Phantom Energy

So E-Far, So E-Good

The free promotion for Man of Wax and Phantom Energy started just this morning, and already Man of Wax has gotten here:

Yes, that's right -- it's in the top 100. After No Shelter had managed to sneak into the top 100 last week, I doubted Man of Wax would be able to replicate the same success. In fact it's done even better. Why? Who knows. There really isn't any rhyme or reason for why a free book is downloaded more than another free book, as far as I can tell, and the only promotion I did was here on this website and links posted on Twitter and Facebook.

As of right now, Man of Wax has been downloaded over 14,000 times since this morning. Phantom Energy? About 150.

Anyway, the inevitable response will be something along the lines of Yeah, that's great and all, but why in the blue blazes are you giving away your stuff for free anyhow?

I was actually asked this question just the other day, and my answer then was the same as it is now: Why not?

If you believe that every free download is a missed sale, you have a lot to learn about the publishing business -- or practically any business. Companies -- such as, you know, publishers -- give away products all the time. Free is always the best form of promotion (which isn't the same as pirating, but that's a whole other discussion for another time ... though I will say that, while I think pirating is wrong, I don't lose sleep over the fact that several of my e-books are currently available on torrent websites).

Of course not every person who downloads the book is actually going to read it, but for the few seconds it took them to download it, they at least saw the cover and title and my name. And who knows, maybe they will read it at some point. Yet out of the 14,000 downloads so far for Man of Wax, how many readers will actually try the book? I'd be happy with even a tenth of that number, but I think that's being too generous. Then again, maybe not. After all, the whole point here is to be read, plus -- wink, wink -- the second book in the trilogy is slated to be released this April ...

The downside of free promotion, however, is that not everyone is going to like whatever it is that's free. This seems to be especially the case with free e-books. In my experience, many one-star reviews are the result of free e-books. It seems readers who don't care for a book they didn't pay anything for find it their duty to tell the world. And you know what? That's okay. No writer's work is ever universally loved.

But you know the massive upside of free promotion, especially at Amazon? The more free downloads, the more your book gets recommended, both during the free promotion ... and even after.

Last year No Shelter sold around 300 copies. That's 300 copies for the entire year of 2011.

After last week's free promotion, No Shelter sold nearly 300 copies in just one day.

Let me repeat that -- No Shelter sold nearly 300 copies in just one day.

So think about that.

And while you're thinking about it, download Man of Wax and Phantom Energy if you haven't done so already. Did I mention they're FREE?

An Encore Of Free

Last week's free promotion of No Shelter and The Dishonored Dead went so well, I decided I wanted to do it again. So for the next several days, the following e-books are free in the Kindle store -- that's right, FREE!

Kindle US / Kindle UK

Kindle US / Kindle UK

Again, these two e-books will be free for the next several days, so please do help spread the word by tweeting it, Facebooking it, Tumblring it, sky-writing it, and, if possible, telepathy-ing it to all your friends and family and neighbors. Thanks, and enjoy.

Story In Review

Tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of the special I'm running on all of my paperbacks. Thanks to everyone who has already ordered; those will ship out Monday, if not tomorrow, and make their way to your door by Christmas. And, of course, the Man of Wax special promotion where you give one ebook, get two ebooks free, takes place all month long. Thanks to everyone who's already participated!

Finally, I usually share reviews of my work that take place at blogs or elsewhere but never reader reviews from, say, Amazon. Not that I don't appreciate reader reviews -- I truly do, even when they're less than stellar -- but usually there isn't much to share. Except there's a review today for Phantom Energy from a reader whose handle is Bartleby that's just too good not to share. It's a story in review, if you will, and whether or not any of it is true, that doesn't matter because it's just so entertaining. Thanks, Bartleby! Enjoy, and make sure you check in Monday, as I hope to present you with something very exciting.

She was making a racket in the bedroom today. Books off the shelves. Stuff out of drawers. Closet a mess. All he wanted to do was sit on the couch and play Halo. But no. She comes over to him with a book, very excitedly, and thrusts it at him. "You have to read this. It's called Phantom Energy, by this guy Robert Swartwood. It's so freaking good." He barely looked at her. "Yeah, um, I'm not a big reader?" he said. That's what he always said when she tried to get him to read. Not a big reader, he'd say. You're the reader in the house. Stuff like that. But she was making those eyes at him, ones she hadn't made in a long, long time. "Is there like something funny in it?" he said. She smiled and said, "The stories are short. They're like little puzzles. You'll be done in no time." Well, she was right. The stories were short, interesting, puzzling but good. Only it didn't take him no time. He. Was. Not. A. Big. Reader. So he was there on the couch for the rest of the afternoon, until darkness closed in around him and he was reading by the light of the stalled video game. "Geez," he said. "That was good. Real good. Honey?" he called. But there was no answer. Her books, her clothes, his wallet and his car were gone. Long gone.

Phantom Energy Now Available In Paperback

The paperback version of Phantom Energy is now available via Amazon for $5.95. All pre-ordered copies were shipped earlier this week. If you missed the special offer, you can still purchase signed copies from me, though I'm no longer offering free shipping and the bonus two-word Hint Fiction story (that's the point of pre-ordering, duh!). Email robert (at) robertswartwood (dot) com for details.