Saturday, 17 March 2012

A Kindle Success Story

As my first experiment with a free story published through Kindle Direct comes to a close I am pleased to say that in my opinion it was a success. My short story has been free for two days and in that time it's been downloaded almost 800 times and there are still a couple of hours to go. Compared with authors I know of who have had 10,000+ downloads of their free books, this is just a drop in the ocean, but for me it's very exciting. While I have not made a cent from it, 800 people have potentially read my story and been exposed to my name, and in terms of marketing I really couldn't have hoped for more.

I love the fact that you can monitor the downloads in real time. It's very exciting to watch that number creep up and know that somewhere out there, someone is interested in my story. I can't even imagine what it must be like to be a huge author who sells hundreds of thousands of books, I don't think my heart could take it.

I'm realistic that a lot of the people who dowloaded it probably won't even read it. I have a lot of free books sitting on my Kindle that I may never look at, but hopefully a decent proportion of those who dowloaded it will. I initially put my short story up for free to try to promote my new novel, but even if I don't sell a single copy of my novel through this experiment, I'm still glad I did it and I'll definitely be doing it again. I'm not in the writing game for money (although it would be nice!), and now that I've found how effective Kindle is in getting my stories out there, I'll definitely be using it again.

I must say I'm a bit surprised though at the huge discrepancy between downloads of a free book and one sold for 99 cents. It seems a lot of people out there only look at free books or just are not willing to take a chance on unknown self-published writers. I guess this is fair enough, but it does worry me a little that this phenomenon is driving down the price of all books. Authors will be the ones to suffer when readers aren't even willing to shell out the price of a cup of coffee for a book because there are so many available for a dollar or less. 

Speaking of Kindle success stories, who can ignore the phenomenal success of 50 Shades of Grey? This Cinderella story has rekindled (no pun intended), the hopes of all e-published & self-published authors who dream of being discovered and hitting the big time. There's been a lot of narkiness out there towards E.L James, especially from the fanfic community. Others are appalled that such a badly written book could be so successful, because clearly they think their writing is so much more deserving.

I didn't like Twilight much, and after glancing at the first few pages of this book it's not my cup of tea either, but that's my opinion. If people are buying this book then they obviously enjoy it, and that's what it comes down to in this game. Is it another indication that ebooks are erroding quality and making readers less discerning? Probably not because there have always been plenty of trashy books on the bestseller lists, and always will be. The real test of a book is its endurance, and somehow I don't think Twlight and 50 Shades of Grey will stand the test of time.

This parody is hilarious:

To return to the original subject, the highest ranking I achieved with my short story was #400 on the free kindle list for US Amazon (#60 for contemporary romance) and #335 for UK (#47 for contemporary romance). My goal with the next story is to get below #300, and one day in the distant future I hope to crack the top 1000 for paid books. Beyond that I don't even dare to dream. Keep your eyes open for Prude & Prejudice, coming soon (hopefully not followed closely by a law suit for copy right infringement LOL).

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