Friday, August 16, 2013

An experiment with FREE

Recently I decided to try an experiment. One of the take-home messages I got from the last RWA National convention was that having more material available, more often, was one of the best ways to get a lot of attention in ebook circles. This is frequently known as “feeding the beast.” So the more material you have out at a time, the better off you will be.

Another technique was to make sure that you have a lot of a particular type of story available at one time, plus be able to put out something new in that area quickly. One person described this as “five plus one in the hole”. That is, release FIVE titles at the same time, then have a sixth title waiting to go out a month later. This should boost ebook visibility and sales.

So what to do if you have a number of titles in one area available but don’t have something ready to go out the door?

Offer one book free. 

But not just any book. This has to be:
  1. Part of a series, preferably the first or an early book.
  2. The best book you have in this series. This is important because this will be the book everyone judges the rest of the series on.
I decided this was the technique I wanted to try. So for my Gaian Stories series, futuristic romance stories about a colony of Earth people who needed women from Earth, I decided the book to make free was Beloved Enemy.

First of all, this is the first book of a three book series that have similar names: Beloved Enemy, Beloved Traveler, Beloved Stranger. It has an eye-catching cover as seen here.

It is an award winning book: a Romantic Times Top Pick, a nominee in that magazine's Reviewer Choice Award, and a FF&P Prism Finalist. By a jury of my critics and peers this was a very good book. 

It is an early book in the series. I have six titles to date of Gaian Stories and while Promises To Keep is technically the first book, Beloved Enemy doesn't depend on PTK for any information. All of the Gaian books were written to be read independently, but this one most of all.

Plus, I really like this story. The reviewer for RT caught on that in part I'd based this book on one of my favorite science fiction movies, Enemy Mine,  about a pair of pilots from opposite sides of an interplanetary war being stranded on a deserted planet and having to learn to work with each other to survive. What I did was make them of the opposite sex and human enough to make this a romance. And, to quote one of my more recent reviews on Amazon, I didn't make the guy a jerk. 

I could make this book free because while Beloved Enemy was originally published by a small publishing company and had the benefit of serious editing by them, I have since gotten my rights back and am independently publishing the book. So to make it free all I had to do was put it free on Smashwords and within a few days it was free at Apple, and now, free at Amazon.

The results? Well first results are promising. I'm no longer making any money on Beloved Enemy, and that was one of my top selling titles. But sales of Beloved Traveler, Beloved Stranger, and Promises To Keep, the three other novels are up quite a bit. And since giving away this book, my sales in Germany are picking up in a way I didn't expect. 

Is this going to lead to higher sales in general and more attention to a series that I'm really very fond of? The future is always uncertain but at least I know over six thousand people have downloaded my book from Amazon in the past seven days and some of them are enjoying the book well enough to buy other books in the series. I'm even selling books in Germany and that's something pretty cool right there.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr


Andrea DePasture said...

I always really liked this book and thought it was one of your best. Hope it leads to great things for you!

Janet/Cricket said...

Hi Andrea! Thanks so much. That means a lot to me.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Sounds great. I picked up a copy and Tweeted! Good luck with all you do!