Phew! Five days ago I started a promotion in which I gave away, free, gratis and for nothing, the Kindle version of my gothick horror detective novel By The Sea to coincide with the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival. Five days later, as a result of relentless social meeja advertising, the Festival and many other people for Facebook shares and retweets – and friends such as Mr B. C. of Swindon for extra publicity – I can now announce that I have given away 557 copies.
At this point I owe everyone something of an apology. Last night, thinking that the total had stuck at the high 200s, I urged people to make a final push to get the great gothick giveaway to a grand thermoplyaean 300. So wherefore 557? Well, I had forgotten that Amazon sells in a multiplicity of domains, and I was only looking at the reports from amazon.com. When I found that each domain sells separately, and added everything up, the breakdown came out like this:
making a total of 557. I apologise to anyone who was misled. I also apologise to those who failed to download a copy in one domain when they could have done so in another. Well, I’ll know for next time.
So, what now? What does it profit me to give my book away for nothing? There are those, such as my former Nature colleague Chris Anderson, who think that giving things away for free makes for a clever business move. Those of us of an older generation might call it speculating to accumulate.
What writers want most of all is for people to read their stuff. Being self-published, By The Sea wasn’t going to sell much anyway from a standing start, certainly not enough to make any appreciable royalty. Thanks to promotion by Dr J. L. R. of this parish, it did get an initial boost sufficient to get one or two nice reviews and endorsements, which helped. Even then, very few people had actually read the book. No more than 100, I’d guess. So the advantage of a free promotion over continuing to plug away at the paid sales route had the attraction of getting the book in front of a lot of new readers. Which is great.
The return, I hope, is that by giving away lots of copies, and getting a lot of new readers, the book will get a lot more attention – increasing the vital word-of-mouth publicity route that all books need to really get sales going, and acquiring more reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing and so on and so forth in like fashion.
So, if you are one of the Noble 557 who’ve downloaded By The Sea for free: this is what you can do for me, in return for getting the fruits of my intellect and hard labour for nothing.
If you enjoy the book, or even if you don’t, tweet it. Blog it. Review it. Most of all, tell your friends. The book is still for sale on Kindle in the US, UK and elsewhere. If you don’t like reading on a screen and prefer it the old fashioned way, you can order it as a print-on-demand paperback. As the man said, being talked about is so much better than not being talked about.