I waited until this last free promo on two of my books to weigh in on anything worthy re the matter of Amazon and free promotionals of indie authors' books, both new product and old. I did so because I have received a very mixed bag of nuts in terms of returns and in terms of what has already been stated (or gloomily predicted and analyzed thus far) vis a vis free promotionals and revenue from book sales and if indeed, as illustrated by some, the landscape for the indie author is presently as lifeless as the lunar surface.
To begin, and again, others have analyzed the problem far more exhaustively than myself; I refer to those parties and analyses attendant thereto in the following: The excellent blogs on the subject by Russell Blake, Phoenix Sullivan and Ed Robertson can be referred to for in depth analysis. As I did before, I include the links now, in order, for comprehensive nuts-and-bolts commentary on the algorithm shifts/sales. For Russell Blake: http://russellblake.com/how-it-works/; For Phoenix Sullivan: blog on the topic here; and for Ed Robertson: nice rundown on the evidence.
I released my latest book, The Last Harem, on a 2 day promotional almost two weeks ago. The genre is very specific and perhaps damning in terms of any kind of book-buying audience. It was placed by Amazon (and myself) under Rich and Famous, as it dealt with a famouse personage of royalty and my ex-fiance; it was also an autobiography. It had no place under mass appeal genres like straight fiction, romance, science fiction, or mystery. It was niche to the max.
Thus far, sales have been disappointing. Can I blame the algorithm shift by Amazon on dismal sales? Perhaps. Or perhaps it could just be the subject matter of my book which few people show interest in availing themselves to.
In the past 48 hours, I have completed a 2-day promo on past books, one a hard-boiled mystery, Gray Area, and one, a young adult fantasy, The Last Elf. Both books upon their initial introduction into the world proved enjoyable re sales, particularly, the hard-boiled Gray Area. This is Area's third intro as a 'freebie' item, and it has surprisingly, as of this morning, already sold almost 50 books, and is in the top 100 of Amazon best-selling hard-boiled mysteries, 12 hours after the 2 day promotional has ended. Conversely, The Last Elf, has not enjoyed one single sale, despite good reviews and an audience which, at least in the movie world, is more than alive and well. Witness this past week's enormously successful film "Brave." Same age range that the Last Elf targets. Yet my sales are negligible in the same genre.
My conclusions? Well, the algorithms have affected all indie authors, admittedly also by those indie authors of considerable success. Fine, we can't get around that. But, as one of my favorite indie authors stated: If we're expecting to get rich by writing, it's a lousy reason to write. Bottom line, we should write because we love to write - we need to write. And it is why, despite this time of relative algorithmic privation with reference to our sales success, we must continue to write.
I believe these hard times will pass. Something will change, new marketing devices will be found that will assist us all in increased marketability promise. In the meantime, we ride out this current tide of difficulty, and mush on. Writing and selling books is hard, hard work. It is not an easy businesss. But that is what makes the whole game great.
So buy another one of my damned books, mix yourself a martini (or tea, if that be your demonic beverage of choice), buckle up, and get back to the keys.
And don't forget to walk your cat.