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.