Free Free Free Blah Blah Blah

The other day Kevin Lucia did a blog post about the constant bombardment of the OH MY GOD MY EBOOK IS FREE TODAY AT AMAZON ORDER IT AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS!!! you see constantly on Facebook and Twitter. I don't really have much to add to that other than yes, it is troublesome. For newbie writers to grow an audience, how do they find readers? The 99-cent price point is a waste, in my opinion, so obviously the next step is free. But then if readers know you've made your book free once, they might assume you'll make your other books free, and won't buy your stuff. So ... what are you left with (besides, potentially, just being really annoying)?

Anyway, as I discussed recently, I enrolled some books into the Kindle Select Program to test it out. The deal, in case you aren't aware, is making your ebook available exclusively to Amazon for 90 days, in which Amazon Prime members can then "borrow" that book (members can borrow only one ebook a month, and Amazon kicks in a kitty of over $500,000 to the participating writers and averages out that amount to all the borrows at the end of said month). One of the perks, however, is being able to make your ebook free for up to five days. This can have a tremendous impact on your book. In fact, last month it helped my thrillers No Shelter and Man of Wax sell a ton of copies, and brought me even more readers. So I consider it a success.

My point? Well, I had three free days left on No Shelter, two free days left on Man of Wax, so yesterday I made No Shelter free, and today I made Man of Wax free to close out the month. The exclusivity is up at the end of March, and I plan to enter them back into the other stores and see how they do there (my NOOK sales have begun to pick up, and I wonder what having more titles available will do).

Anyway, so I made both ebooks free, and didn't realize until today that making both titles free at the same time might not be a good idea. After all, they had both sneaked into the Free Top 100 at different times, and on its first day No Shelter reached the Top 100, so maybe that would somehow keep Man of Wax out of the Top 100.

Nope. They're both there in the Free Top 100, where they will hopefully stay into tomorrow night when the promotion ends.

And before anyone asks -- no, I have no idea how they got so high up in the ranking. I really didn't do much except mention they were free on Facebook and Twitter, and even then their rankings were pretty high. Maybe they reached the Top 100 because they had been in the Top 100 before, but again, I have no idea how it happened. As with everything, the answer is luck.

However, wherever there is luck, there is also unluck (which I'm saying is a word). For some reason, Amazon is acting up and messing with reviews. I noticed it late last night how some reviews would disappear ... and then reappear a half hour later. I did some quick research and found this was indeed a bug in Amazon's system that they were trying to figure out. Which is all fine and good, but reviews are crucial, especially when a title gets all the way up into the Top 100 where it's most widely seen.

Case in point: before the free promotion today, Man of Wax had 19 reviews, 11 of which were five-star. Then, maybe a half hour ago, I checked the ranking and for some reason saw that Man of Wax now had only 5 reviews: 1 five-star, 1 four-star, and 3 one-star. Obviously I saw this as a problem in regards to finding potential readers. Then again, while the one-star reviews don't help with the algorithm, they do alert potential readers to the fact that the book is indeed dark and disturbing. This is good, because not every reader likes dark and disturbing, so if a reader is turned off by the book based on that one-star review, then that's probably for the best. At least they didn't try reading it and hate it enough to then leave their own one-star review. On the flip side, a one-star review that complains the book is dark and disturbing can actually motivate some readers to download the book, so there's that.

(And then there's the reader who says they loved No Shelter so they tried Man of Wax and thought Man of Wax was awful so they left a one-star review ... despite the fact they didn't leave any review for No Shelter. Say whaaaaat?)

But now I just looked again and all the reviews seem to be restored for Man of Wax, including two additional reviews, bringing it to 21 overall. So there's that. But no telling how long before some of those reviews disappear again.

So again, my point?

Well, that you have one more day to download No Shelter and Man of Wax while they're free. Go grab 'em!