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On January 13, 2012 I attempted an experiment to start the process of getting a free copy of Coventry House, my best known work, into the e-readers of as many people as possible.

In case you still want your own free copy, you can go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79543 and use Coupon Code AR26U

On the 13th, 60 people went to the web site. Six people downloaded the book.

On the 14th, 80 people visited the site. NOBODY downloaded the book.

On the 15th, 28 people visited the site and once again, NOBODY downloaded the book.

On the 16th, 40 people visited the site and 7 people downloaded the book.

On the 17th, 20 people visited the site and 2 people downloaded the book.

By the 29th, site traffic returned to normal.

Bottom line, out of 228 people, only 15 people downloaded the book. That means out of all the site traffic over a five-day period, only 6.6% of the site’s visitors downloaded a FREE book with all POSITIVE reviews.

I consider this a failure. Why did this happen?

Thesis #1: Free equals junk. Nobody wants to download junk even if the reviews are positive. (1)
Thesis #2: Very few people want to go through the trouble of registering an account with Smashwords even if they get a free book out of the situation.
Thesis #3: ?????? Anybody got any better ideas?

In talking with a marketing buddy in Australia, he came up with two separate experiments that may show better results:

Experiment #1: Writing a braided novel (2), allow the first chapter which is a stand-alone story to be given away for free, but sell the complete novel for a much larger sum of money that is still competitive with the market.

Experiment #2: Writing a braided novel, allow the first chapter which is a stand-alone story to be sole for $.99, but sell the complete novel for a much larger sum of money that is still competitive with the market.

Fortunately, I am presently writing a fantasy braided novel and when my previous writing commitments are done, I will try the first experiment at a later date.


(1) Marketers at Amazon have discovered that a book that has some negative reviews sells better than a book with no negative reviews as the group assessment takes on a more “legitimate” air.

(2) I first heard of the concept of a “braided novel” from Ken Pick, my writing partner, who may have coined the phrase though author Frank Creed has also used the term in his blog. A braided novel is a novel composed of individual stand-alone stories that when combined tell a much larger cohesive tale.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Well, I see you already have M.C.A.Hogarth friended, so I can't recommend you friending her and studying her business model. I know it has worked really well for her and I've got Warren looking at what she's been doing since he wants to break into the writing business as well. Of course, her stuff might be selling better because she includes art with her writing. Honestly, I am amazed at how well she does. Publishing, including self publishing, and making money from it, are extremely difficult areas as I am sure you already know.

I am not sure how comfortable you would be to at least set up a PayPal donate button and offer shorts in your journal. I know, every now and then you write something that I think is absolutely spectacular. Like the last post about The House. Absolutely brilliant. I would throw a few bucks your way if you were to set up a donate button. And then I could recommend you to all my friends on LJ and F/b, not that I have many friends, but you know what I mean. Word of mouth. If you got everyone on your friends list to spam about your writing maybe you could get a larger following.

I think it's a good idea to offer some freebees, but not a whole novel. Offer the first chapter or a couple of short stories first. Get some reviews going. Then offer other short stories for a low price. If you can get the volume in sales, then even with TPTB taking their cut you will still make money. Then sell a novel or two at a reasonable price, but don't undercut yourself.

Right now Warren has been working on a novel or novelette. He has just been writing his story out and it will be as long as it has to be. Once he's done I am reading and editing and giving suggestions on what I think he needs to change. He also wants me to illustrate parts of it. And that's another thing. People like pictures. If you can get someone to illustrate your books, even if it's only a few pages of illustrations, they would probably sell a lot better, but I am mostly just thinking of the fantasy/sci-fi/furry genres. You do have to consider who your audience is.

Ok, I'll stop lathering on now. I do have breakfast to eat and it's already after noon! haha
Feb. 7th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Could there be other factors. One you are not a well know famous author, If it was Stephen King the server would crash. Second the where you marked your book. I not sure where you posted your announcement (as where I seen them) would not be the market for that book. For me it was Science Fiction anthro or otherwise; I had no interest in reading the book.
Some observation I would make if online publishing is no excuse to have a good marketing plan.

There still the question about giving way or online publishing: will it lead to the You Tube- zation of the literary market,I having to wade through a tide of narcissistic pulp to find one diamond
Feb. 7th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised you got such a small return for that many visitors. Part of it may be people not wanting to sign up for another service. I imagine you would've had a better return on Amazon. Does Smash Words allow you to take their formatting and sell it on Amazon? They probably don't but if you could get on Amazon it would be a wider distribution network.</p>

Amazon would allow you to give a free sample of the book too as well as offering it for a reasonable price.

Apr. 6th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
I was only being lazy. I like free fiction. I stick it in my text reader and draw pictures while the computer reads it to me. Mostly I've been reading fanfiction, but I decided to try yours out. Coupon code is expired, but I'm not a cheap bastard, so here's your dollar tip.
Oh yeah. It's only a dollar, so I'm still a cheap bastard. Yay me.
Once I'm done reading, I'm going to post a review at Phantasmo's Cheese Factory. There will be a few excerpts, but it will be less than 15% of the total work, which should be Fair Use.
Apr. 17th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
Here's your story review
You actually scored pretty good on the checklist. Most authors (bad ones) I review end up with hundreds of cheese points, and yours actually ends up without any.


Nobody looks at my blog, so don't get too upset.

If something needs to be removed off the page, let me know, but be aware that my response may not be immediate because I don't check my e-mail every second.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )