KDP, which is Kindle Direct Publishing, recently changed their rules, and are allowing self-published authors the chance to offer their books for free, up to five days per quarter. Previously they would only allow it if your titles were already free on the Barnes & Noble or iBooks sites.
Since Crossroads Road has been out for a year, and sales have slowed to about one Kindle copy per day, I decided to test it out. Just as an experiment… I did a little research on some writing forums, and, based on what I read, I expected about 1000 to 1500 downloads across two days. That’s a lot of extra copies in circulation, and that’s a positive — even if I don’t earn a penny from it.
I chose this past Friday and Saturday for my little test, because I’d convinced myself those would be the best possible days to try something like this. It would become free on Friday at 3 A.M., which is midnight Amazon Standard Time. And it would remain free until 3 A.M. Sunday.
And when I got out of bed on Friday morning, there had already been almost 500 downloads. I hadn’t promoted it, whatsoever. I couldn’t believe it.
I started tweeting about it, sent out an email to the Surf Report mailing list, and mentioned it a couple of times on Facebook. And it went crazy. I was expecting 1000 downloads, and got — are you ready for this shit? — 17,322. It blows my mind.
I told my agent about it, and she was amazed. That’s a hell of a lot of activity. Probably three times as many, in two days, than the amount I actually sold via Kindle in a year. I love it. At this point I just want people to read it. I know that a certain percentage of those downloaders will never read it, but many of them will. And, again, that’s a positive.
I was excited by all this, and told my dad about it on the phone this morning. Here are a few of his reactions.
Well, that’s 17,000 people who will never buy it.
You can’t get anyone to buy it, but they’ll sure take it for free, won’t they?
Now people will know to just wait, and it’ll be free again, eventually.
Good ol’ Dad. Always so positive and encouraging. I especially enjoyed the “you can’t get anyone to buy it” statement. That book has sold really well. It didn’t explode, but it’s done great. Sheesh. Most people have self-doubts, but I also have my parents to confirm all of them for me, and also bring up a few that I hadn’t yet considered.
Also, there have been about ten people who RETURNED the book to Amazon. They didn’t just delete it from their Kindles, they made a point of returning it, to make some kind of statement.
It’s that first chapter… It sets the tone, immediately. And if someone is expecting gentle humor, like Garrison Keillor or whatever, that first chapter is a shock to the system. Plus, there’s a certain segment who HATES the Sue character. Almost all of the criticism I’ve received has been Sue-based. Oh well.
I did receive an email from a woman who is reading the book, and is enjoying it. So, that’s encouraging. And she says she especially likes Sue. It’s bizarre.
So, we’ll see what happens with another 17,322 copies of Crossroads Road circulating out there. I hope it leads to something interesting. It’ll almost certainly garner a few negative reviews, because it’s probably fallen into the hands of some people outside my target audience. You know, the people who don’t share our twisted sense of humor? But I’m hoping there will be many more positive reactions, than negative. Time will tell.
And I’ll be back tomorrow with a regular update. I’m going to work now.
Have a great rest o’ the weekend, my friends!
Now playing in the bunker
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WB in OH says
Holy shit! 17k is awesome. If half of them like it and tell a friend…you might be able to quit pestering us for beers. ha!
Cool beans! Those twitter and facebook tentacles really get out there.
Wow! Congratulations on such a LARGE number of downloads and also for sharing with us an idea of how many you DID sell. Always curious about that.
I have my signed hard copy. Nearby.
Good ole dad, but you know to chalk that up to crotchityness and over all lack of a grasp of how successful your project was.
Sadly, I never pushed it. I felt it cheapened it a bit, too, and did not want to share out the link that reason.
Alice in WV says
17K+ … that’s big deal, maaan!
I’m ready for the next book, a follow up or even a completely different venture. I enjoy your writing, and am hopeful that you won’t give up. Friends are Gods way of saying sorry for our parents! Keep it up Jeff, you have lots of web friends out here cheering you on!
Congrats on 17,000+!!
I just peed a little when I read17000.
I wish I could get my music to a tenth of that – whether they pay or not.
That’s a great base to have waiting on follow up work.
I bought it when it first came out and didn’t regret a single penny OR a minute reading! 🙂
Chuck in Belpre says
Nice work, Jimmy! I know how you feel about the critical parental unit. Mine always asked me when I was going to get a real job when I was playing every week end. I finally gave up the music. Wish I hadn’t. Anyway…congrats on the 17k.
who the hell is Jimmy?
Sounds a lot like what my dad would say, he never has anything positive to say. I purchased the nook book for 2.99 which I thought was a steal. Loved it, can’t wait for the next one.
Did you know that Moby Dick only sold 3600 copies in its first 30 YEARS of circulation? By that standard I’d say your book is doing spectacularly well.
Moms will go on about how proud she was of your very firt shit. Dads will always think you have never figured out which hand you should use to find your ass.
I don’t facebook. I’m sure any follower I would attract is barred for using a computer. My wife does and has about 300 lunitics who I think can still read…dunno? I’ll enlist them next time you do this. None of them can afford a lawyer so I shouldn’t get any heat from it.
***these last three beers in my twelve pack (hey…I got up at 4AM) are in your honor. 17K coolness Jeff!
Are any of your friends named Kevin Mitnick?
Chuck in Belpre says
That’s some funny shit right there.
Jeff, I thought it was a smart promotion. You have 17,000 potential buyers for your next book(s). Congratulations!
It was up to 14000 when I downloaded it. BTW – I bought a hardcopy when it came out, the kindle version was just a nice bonus. Had to download the software before I could “buy” it though.
I’m waiting for the pdf version…
great work! I bought a full price Kindle copy back when you first released it. Really enjoyed it. I’m glad so many others will get a chance to read it and anticipate your next project as much as I do.
Keep up the good work!
Lisa McCue says
I have three books of mine on KDP Select, under the pen name McCarty Griffin, and unfortunately, the comments your father made definitely apply to my books, especially “You can’t get anyone to buy it, but they’ll sure take it for free, won’t they?”
By the way, I love your blog. I found it while searching for sites about home, by which I mean West Virginia, naturally. I’m a displaced hillbilly out here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m so homesick, I set all three of my books in West Virginia and the fourth one I’m writing now as well.
Congrats on the 17k!
I bought three copies early on: one e-, two signed paper.
Shortly all those fine folks will think to google the authors name, and they’ll end up here. 17,000 new site visitors. Can the servers handle it, Jeff?!
Please get rid of the picture of the hipster douchebag pushing the cartoon-looking dog down the slide.
…and ya know what?…I think somewhere…Jimmy Khun just spurted when he read about your 17K.
Evil Twin's Wife says
I didn’t download the book to my Kindle…My husband designed the cover and we have a few copies here at the house. I’ve read it and loved it. Keep up the good work (I know you will!). 🙂
I loved the book. Your Dad sounds like mine – nothing but negativity. Keep up the great work.
I bought it, and thought free would have been to much.
I am nice; at least I didn’t reurn it to amazon. Also, I’ve purchased t-shirts, and most important made donations for beer.
The Kuban says
Who approved this message??? I think the moderator needs to be a little more choosey. Wotta douche.
Some Guy on the Innernets says
Interesting episode. Publishing is such a weird business.
This is not exactly a current reference, but I recall reading something Mark Twain wrote about authors griping about people reading their books for free because of all the libraries just “giving it away,” even though they knew that every copy in a library sold several more. Or something like that. Sort of like paying a good agent, I guess.
Also, I want to pass this link along. This is awesome!
Cingratulations! Now you have 17,000 more readers anxiously awaiting the next tome.
The Kuban says
Why are people so upset by the Sue character? Because she’s fat? I don’t get it. As far as I know, the majority of people are fat because they directly caused themselves to be fat, amiright?
Isn’t 17,322 the Mayan equivalent of 666?
Fan-damn-tastic Jeff! That is just amazing. I would have crapped a cow too. The internets is a wonderful thing.
Jeff Bauer says
Some Guy on the Innernets said: “Publishing is a weird business.”
So is marketing, especially the printed word. Might I try to guess at the logic Jeff’s father was using?
The Kindle Edition at Amazon is 99-cents. Multiply that by 17,322 and there’s $17,148.78 in potential sales that was given away. That would be like giving away about 1,230 of the print editions for free.
Oh yes, there’s new exposure and all, but that’s immeasurable vapor.
If one could turn back the clocks, a different approach might have been to only make the book available in print form. Then at some later date, make a similar pitch, only the pitch would be something like a special weekend where the novel would be available in a Kindle Edition for only 99-cents.
Now 17,322 downloads on that weekend would be something to crow about.
Thank you for the free book, just finished reading it last night. I didn’t want it to end. I gotta tell ya, I have depression and not much is funny to me, but I was reading and laughing out loud, repeatedly (crazy!). Please come out with more books – I’ll buy them! Just LOVE your sense of humor!