Free Down Loads On Kindle

By Mike Long Until recently I’ve steadfastly resisted giving any of my books away. Sure, I sent copies to folks for reviews (with mostly good results) and even donated a case to a US Army aviation unit in Afghanistan – but that’s not the same as listing a book as ‘Free’ on Kindle for several days. Why on earth would a sane person do that? I’m not sure why sane folks do anything, but what pushed me to try a ‘free download’ promo was the fact that I just wasn’t selling many copies as E-books. I had my first novel (No Good Like It Is) and the sequel (Dog Soldier Moon) available on Kindle, Smashwords, Sony, Nook, etc., but was only moving maybe twenty or twenty-five on each per month. I’d already gone through the Kindle pricing drill, starting at $9.99, then $5.99, then 99 cents and finally establishing my ‘sweet spot’ as $2.99 per. At that price or higher, the author gets 70% of each sale; below that, it’s only 35%. And when Kindle offered their Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL), I was slow to join up (why loan books for free, rather than sell them?) – until I learned that the KOLL program actually pays a little to the participating authors. You do have to give Kindle an ‘exclusive’ on your books, but I’d never received a penny from Sony, Smashwords, Nook, etc. anyhow. Another no-brainer, once I studied it. And all that led me to the free download promo. A friend explained that the folks who hold out for freebies on Kindle were probably never going to pay for one of my books – unless maybe they got the first one free and just had to have the sequel, especially if it didn’t cost much. I ran my experiment Nov. 26-30 2012, after a good deal of mostly free advertising. I used Facebook (all my groups therein) and LinkedIn, and found more than a dozen sites that would blog or advertise my effort for little or nothing. There were over 6500 free downloads during that five day promotion; most (6200) were in the first three days, so a two or three-day promo is probably enough. But what happened afterward is what has really surprised me. In the nine days since I stopped the promotion, I’ve had over 220 paid downloads (purchases, KOLL Loans) of my first novel; the figures on the sequel aren’t in yet. Remember, I was only doing about 22 of each per month before. I don’t expect this pace to continue, but it’s sweet now. And there are still 6500+ potential buyers for the sequel. Write On!