Right-e-o here I go as promised, or threatened, on my last post (I’m sure I can hear a trumpet as I write that?) the reason/reasons why I won’t give freebies. Freebies meaning books, you understand?
If I go back to the beginning – sometime last year – when I put my first book on Amazon, I have to confess to being ignorant to the workings and wonders of self-publishing. Mulligan’s Reach was kindly formatted and uploaded to Amazon for me by a newly acquired writer friend. I then hid for a week or two, terrified of someone actually buying it. Don’t ask me why, I’m just weird that way. It turned out to be a pointless worry because no one bought it anyway. Why would they? No one knew it was there.
So, the next plan was suggested to me. Get another book published. This I did, and again I was lucky to have the same lovely person format and upload to Amazon, Starfish. I hope you are still with me? Simply, I now had two books on Amazon, neither of which were selling because no one knew that either of them existed.
Just to give the nail a final wallop into the coffin, my friend uploaded a third book for me, Eternal, a collection of short stories.
So there I was, three books on Amazon. Three books that no one knew, or cared, existed.
This is where the dastardly plan rears its pretty head. All that was required was ‘to be seen.’ Make Starfish visible and people would see it, buy it, like it (?) and look for other works by the same enchanting author. Simples! And the way to be seen? Freebies! Lots and lots and lots of freebies. My magic fingers and my stupid brain joined forces long enough for me to go through the Amazon system and put Starfish ‘up for free,’ for the weekend. I had received all my instructions and apparently all I had to do was to sit at the computer from Friday to Sunday night and spam, spam, spam. This I did.
Because I was a newbie to the scene, and pretty stupid to boot, I think my twitter friends took me to their generous bosoms and they retweeted like their little hearts depended on it. As I reluctantly, half dying from key pad fatigue, dragged myself away from the computer on the Sunday evening, around midnight, Starfish was sitting at no 2 on Amazon!
Monday morning, 5am, and Starfish was on the no 1 spot, with Miranda Hart’s book at no 2. It had received 7,500 downloads. It didn’t stay there long and afterwards it probably ‘sold’ another 250 copies before once again dropping from sight.
Sometime later I put Eternal up as a freebie. Around 100 copies were downloaded – short stories never, in my opinion, do very well. This did nothing for sales.
Now the autopsy… I will never put a book of mine up as a freebie again because, well, frankly, why should I? Why should I give my book away? Do readers actually have any idea how much time and effort goes into writing a novel? Is it to be expected that all that effort should cost nothing? Would they seriously expect to walk into a supermarket and fall over a display with a sign saying, ‘Tuna in brine – FREE today?’ Would they take their poodle to the vet and be told at reception, ‘No charge. Today all consultations and treatments are FREE!’ Bugger off. No they would not.
My books may not be War and Peace and they may never be best sellers (well, actually Starfish was), but I have read (until approximately page 4 or 5 – I have a very short crap-level tolerance) far more boring books than mine and if I don’t value my work why should anyone else?
Often, the giving away of books is to produce reviews. Reviews help to sell books. Do they? Consider this, of those 7,500 books given away I probably received a handful of reviews. This is because most people (often other writers/authors) download your book to be helpful (which is lovely) but they never read the book. It will sit on their kindle, along with the other hundreds of helpful downloads. Even I have to confess to having downloaded books that I haven’t yet glanced at.
In a way, in my opinion, Amazon self-publishing has fallen on its own sword. Thousands, it could be millions, of authors (myself included) have jumped on the Amazon self-publishing band wagon and now the wheel has fallen off. A massive tsunami of books have swamped the market and it’s any wonder that anyone’s book can be seen. But, like the agent/trad’ publishing market, something will have to give, somewhere, sometime.
I now have little desire to chase sales. I have a life outside of this. Don’t get me wrong, EVERY single book sale is valued, cherished and appreciated. If you knew HOW much you would actually feel sorry for me! But, for as long as books are free, and web sites, giving away free books are springing up everywhere, we may as well whistle in the wind, because there’s little chance of being heard.
I’m sure there will be many who disagree with my comments – and you know you are perfectly free to do that, (bugger! There’s that other f word again!), but these are my opinions based on facts and experiences over the last year. I’m thinking that a year is a mere blink, in the eye of time, and that self-publishing is a long haul? I’m not disillusioned at all and I shall stay for the long haul – until the time comes, if it does, when it no longer suits me to do so. After all, we are all in this by choice.
So, later I shall be spamming like a demented monkey and yelling from the tree tops, ‘Oi, go and buy my book!’ JOKE!! I won’t. Well I might? NO I won’t.
Having said all this, I am intending to lower the price of my books, sometime soon. Why? Because I can. I have the power and the control (mwahhhh!!) and it really isn’t about the money. I also like to think that I am annoying Amazon by constantly changing things! Yes, I know, petty, petty, petty. But whatever gets you through the night, hey?