I chose the Select program because I'd learned in the past that books offered for free could initiate sales once they'd gone back to paid status. This works because if you have hundreds of downloads over a period of a day or days, those people eventually get around to reading the book. When they read the book it's usually during or after the free trial has expired and the price has been reinstated. Those readers who enjoy the book and talk it up to their friends or colleagues drive that traffic to find the book, and usually, but not always, a few of those second-hand contacts purchase a copy. It almost works like a bait and switch, where the first customer gets the book free gratis, mentions it to others, and drives those others to the listing where they have no other option than to buy it. If the reviews are extraordinarily great you'll reap some sales.
So I put The War Gate on a 48-hour free trial period and sat back to watch the numbers. You can find the numbers in the report field at the top of the Amazon author's page. The first day I had something on the order of 300 downloads, most of which came from the United States. The UK came in second with a couple dozen, and then Germany came in with a handful. After the second day and the closeout of the free trial, I had just 540 free downloads. The overall free download rank came out at 654, and it hit the #87 slot for mystery/thriller, breaking a top 100 list. Of course, I announced this free trial 24 hours before it went active, and did very heavy promotions during each day of the free trial. I decided to drop the price to .99 at the end of the trial. But because of the larger book file size, I was forced to set the price at $1.99. It was still a discount of a dollar from the previous paid listing
When the dust settled I'd sold two more copies, for a total of four paid. The total paid days, so far, are six. So that's four copies in six days. What really surprised and irritated me me was that I did not see a hefty sales spike for the two days after the free trial expiration. I'd seen massive jumps in rank and sales with a previous SF title, sending it into the top 100 paid genre lists at least six to eight times. Every time the SF book went up for free, the following paid days showed very good sales spikes which lasted for three or four days running.
I did not see that for The War Gate. I know my promotion for The War Gate was much more extensive than the SF title. I also believed that the genre popularity of paranormal romance/thriller interest would beat the SF genre and its sub-genres hands down. I was wrong. I did some investigation and inquires and came up with the general explanation that the month of August was a poor book seller in comparison with the beginning of the year, the time when the SF novel hit. I still didn't believe it. I was denial. So I entered the Kindle boards and did some heavy promotion there, joining in on as many discussions and topics as I could tolerate.
Today, there's still no change. Four copies sold. The rank sits at 182,000. Consequently, all my other books and stories have hit the doldrums too, with no sales for the past eight days.
Where did my sales come from? I know that three sales originated from members of two large writing groups, where I'd been a member for some time. I know this because they told me they'd bought copies and began reading. I have no idea where the fourth sale came from. Perhaps a fluke sale from a display site. It might have been a browser/spontaneous sale.
What have I learned?
It seems that all the self-promotion in the universe is nearly useless. That's a fact. For the amount of time and energy spent on blasting the media since the book's first release, the returns were pitiful. But...I do consider that average--a truly sobering reality. Right now I'm compiling more possible media outlets, venues, display sites and writing forums. But you just don't sign up somewhere and plug your book out of the gate. YOU HAVE TO INTERACT AND SOCIALIZE FIRSTHAND. Nobody wants a used car salesman crashing their cozy little party. So any new memberships will take some careful cultivation and etiquette. I'll look for sig line optimization and use that. I'll find the specific promotion, goals and press release threads, and list in them properly and by the rules.
It's been said that if you give up early in the game, then you never wanted or believed you deserved it in the first place. I don't quit. So see you next time with hopefully better news.
To be continued...