This past week, Amazon price matched Intoxicated, making it free across all platforms. All in all, it wasn’t as lengthy of a process as I expected it to be. I believe that I started on 5/7/15 by changing the price at Smashwords, then waiting for the trickle down effect to take place.
Every day since the book went free at some of the bigger sites (iBooks, B&N, Kobo), I clicked over to Amazon to see if they noticed. I reported my own lower prices quite a few times, even though I’ve heard that it’s not effective if the author does it. I did enlist a few friends to help, but I’m not positive that more than two other people reported the lower price.
The tipping point in my eyes is when I uploaded Intoxicated to Google Play as a free download. Not because I plan on selling tons of books there, or even uploading the rest of the series there, but solely because I stumbled across advice that suggested this was a surefire way to get Amazon to make your book free. And the logic makes sense. After all, Google is, well, Google. Imagine when the search engine results pulled up for your book, showing free at Google, and paid at Amazon. With the way Amazon dominates the ebook market, it’s not good for them to be publicly undercut.
Sure enough, within two days of my book going live on Google Play, it was also free at Amazon. I had achieved success, and didn’t even know it until I saw the first three free downloads hit on my dashboard, a lovely green color among the (very) sporadic red line of paid sales.
As I expected, perma-free works better on Amazon than it does on other outlets. Though making it free at other retailers has guaranteed at least a few downloads per day, the response elsewhere has been nothing like over at Amazon. It was fun the first day to periodically check my dashboard to see the downloads climbing by what I considered to be leaps and bounds. Mind you, I did nearly no promotion of this – just a simple tweet, a Facebook post, and a mention over on Tsu, so most of the downloads came from people stumbling across it themselves.
For the first two days of free at Amazon, I did so much better than I expected. Intoxicated hit right around sales rank 1,200 of all free books at its peak (at least what I witnessed) and was also (just barely) in the top 100 of both the Romance and the Women’s Fiction categories. Pretty good for an experiment.
The interest has subsided since, which I fully expected. I’ve submitted it to a couple of free book websites for editorial consideration, as I’m hoping I can get some promotion at no charge. I’ve just started a targeted Facebook ad for the next week, but am not throwing a whole lot of money at it. So far, I am the only click, because I couldn’t stop myself from trying it out to make sure the damn thing worked.
What’s my goal here? Ultimately to get people to take a chance on my series by reading the first one for free. And the early results are promising. Prior to Amazon setting it to free, I’ve had a few paid sales of Book Two at the other retailers. And a purchase of the rest of the series at Smashwords, each subsequent book selling two days after the last. And since going free at Amazon, I’ve gotten one new review of Intoxicated, and paid sales of Book Two each day.
Still not setting the world on fire, but it’s a start. I’ll take it.
The bulk of my blog tour has come to a close. Between the last week of April through the first week of June, Intoxicated was featured daily somewhere, in some fashion. Whether it be on Twitter or on another blog, my book was promoted. I am not quite done yet and actually have sporadic stops all the way into the fall. Hopefully by that time, I’ll be close to getting ready to release book two.
I would love to give you glowing results of how this onslaught of attention drove hundreds of people to Amazon to purchase my book. Or how traffic on my Smashwords page skyrocketed. Or that I have thousands of new followers on Twitter, or even ten new subscribers to my blog. If I did that, I’d be lying.
So far during my blog tour I have sold three books. Yes, you read that right. Three.
I’m not exactly sure that my blog tour had anything to do with those three books being sold. If I hadn’t have embarked on this adventure, I might still have the same three sales. It’s hard to tell. But I still don’t think that it was a waste of time (or money) on my part.
You might ask why. By doing the math, if my blog tour cost more than $6, I’d be underwater on the whole thing. Which I am, but I’m learning that being in the red is par for the course. I did enough time in college to sit in Economics class and learn that you have to spend money to make money. I haven’t given up hope that eventually publicity will beget sales.
First off, I haven’t figured out a way on Amazon, B&N or Apple to tell if anyone has downloaded the free sample of my book. If you know of a way, please do tell. I’m optimistic that people have clicked on the buy links at various tour stops and have decided to try before they buy. Personally I don’t do that, but I understand people who do. If someone is taking the time to read my free sample, the possibility is still there to convert that into a sale.
Secondly, I hate begging people to buy my book. I’ve already discussed how I feel icky doing that and how I don’t spam links to it on Twitter. However, if someone else does it on my behalf, it somehow feels more legitimate. Plus, the more places that feature my book, the more eyes it gets in front of.
Doing a blog tour also allowed me to share some bonus content that hasn’t been featured here. I did a top ten list of trivia, a bonus scene written from Matthew’s point of view and a character interview with Gracie. I loved doing those creative pieces so much more than the benign “Let’s talk about writing in the first person!” posts that I also wrote. I kept my sarcasm at bay and was on my best behavior for the methodology posts, which admittedly was hard. No sense in scaring off people; they can be frightened by me on my own website. During the interview questions I did unleash a little inner snark by sharing an anecdote about how I have this (as of yet) untapped urge to accost people in my local B&N, hijack their Nook and show them that I wrote a book. I don’t believe anyone used that answer.
I understand that you get out of a blog tour what you put into it. I spent hours researching the benefits, looking at different coordinators and reading reviews prior to selecting a company. Once it was booked, I spent additional hours writing content and answering questions for interviews. I think for being my first experience with the concept that I did pretty well. In hindsight, I would have written even more content because I grew tired of seeing the same stuff recycled over and over in different places. I wrote a couple more pieces than the minimum suggested, but I still would have liked to have used more fresh material.
One expectation that wasn’t met on my blog tour was that of obtaining reviews. I got one actual review the whole time, yet on my itinerary there were multiple listings where my tour stop that day included a “Book Review” but it amounted to a posting of my sales copy off my Amazon page. The first tour stop where “Book Review” was listed I was so excited and eager to read what someone else thought of my work, only to find the book description that I’d written myself. I thought maybe I’d read it wrong, but “Book Review” after “Book Review” tour stop included nothing different than the “Book Feature” stops. Not to be confused with the “Book Excerpt” stops, which were self-explanatory.
All in all, though, I can’t complain. I feel like I got my money’s worth out of the experience plus some. Would I do this again for my next book? I’m leaning towards yes, but maybe with not such an extended run. I’ve also contemplated attempting the legwork myself and contacting tour hosts directly, but a very large part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and cry at that thought.
For those of you who have experienced a blog tour first hand, would you do it again? How successful was yours? Did it take some time before you saw results? Any lessons learned that you would like to share? For those blog tour novices, any burning questions? Please feel free to discuss.