October 26th, 2012
Casual Observations and One Quick Review

I’ve seen a lot of authors in the past year and a half offer their books for free. It’s a wonderful marketing tool…or at least it used to be. They’ve all had varying degrees of success by doing so. Up until Phantom Warriors: Riot, I had never put a book up for free for more than a few days, so I didn’t have enough time to determine what if any difference doing so made. Well actually that’s not true. The last time I put a book up for free it didn’t help my sales at all. That changed with Phantom Warriors: Riot. Even though Riot has only been free for a week and change at Amazon, I’ve seen some startling differences in my stats–not all of them good.

On the positive side, the free ‘price’ seems to have brought in a lot of reviews. Which is wonderful and incredibly helpful on sites like Amazon. For a while, the free price also jumped my rankings up on the ‘free bestseller’ list. (I believe I reached number 29.) That particular ride was fairly short-lived, though I am still listed on one or two smaller bestseller lists within Amazon. I was also listed on two smaller bestseller lists when the book was priced at .99. There has been a slight bump in my overall sales this month. I’m sure that both the free price and the .99 price helped my sales.

Now for the bad observations. I noticed that it seems to be much harder for me to maintain the smaller bestseller lists now that I’ve taken the price from .99 to free. I’ve also noticed that when Riot was .99 almost all of my books appeared in the ‘Customers Who Also Bought This Item’ section. Now that Riot is free, all my books have disappeared from that particular (and very helpful) section of the Amazon store. Not a good thing, considering all my paid content still lists mainly my books.

I do know that Amazon has been making a lot of MAJOR changes to their site and that these changes have resulted in disappearing lists, ranking mistakes, etc. They’re working on the problem, but no idea when it’ll be done. Due to what I have observed, I’ve decided to raise the price of Riot back to .99 as of November 5th. I will keep it at that price through the end of the year, then price match the book with the rest of my Phantom Warriors series in Jan. 2013.

I’d be curious what other authors have experienced when they moved from low priced to free. Love to hear all about it.

Now onto my quick movie review. Last night dh and I went to see Cloud Atlas. I had thought the previews were a little confusing so I was less enthusiastic to see it than dh. I admit that the first fifteen to thirty minutes of the movie were VERY confusing. One of the characters was ‘narrating’ in the form of writing a book and begged the audience to bear with the confusing beginning that the story would all make sense in the end.

I can’t say that, that was actually the case, but it did become more interesting as it went along. Basically, the story followed about ten characters throughout several time periods. You’re introduced to each character at a different period of time. As the story progresses, you see how these same characters lives have been entangled. Sometimes in a good way. Sometimes in a bad way. The pattern continues to be repeated. The only connecting thread that runs throughout is LOVE. I suppose ultimately that’s the message/theme of the film. It just uses reincarnation to provide it.

Cloud Atlas is not a movie that’s going to appeal to everybody. It’s complicated. It demands your attention. It’s long (2.5 hrs). It’s ambitious. It’s confusing. It’s impressive that they managed to get it to make sense at all given the amount of story-lines. Dh loved it. I’m still not sure what I think about the film. It’s THAT kind of movie. If you’re patient, love intertwining story-lines, and believe that love can transcend time, then I highly recommend going to see the movie. If you don’t have patience for odd dialogue (at times) or non-linear storytelling, then you are NOT going to enjoy this film.

5 comments to “Casual Observations and One Quick Review”

  1. My buddy, RJ Parker has had great success with ‘free’ as a marketing tool with his non-fiction stuff. I don’t think it works with fiction. When RJ did it with my HARD CASE, it rocketed up to #7, which turned out to be a couple thousand downloads. I’m sure it helped in the name recognition goal, but it did nothing for sales afterward. I’m never doing it again other than the Amazon ‘free to prime members’ which of course is not free.

    Another issue is when I release a book, I’ll get a comment on Facebook or e-mail that someone went right out and bought it. Having a giveaway after a reader plunks down money for the book doesn’t seem right to me.

    Thanks for another great movie review.

  2. Bernard, I’ve had quite a few downloads (a little over 25K) and it’s certainly translated into more reviews for the book and some sales spillover, but I do not expect it to effect my sales when I raise the price once more. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again because I haven’t seen a significant difference between a .99 price point and free.

    Yes, that’s always bad. It’s why I tried SO hard to get the book free everywhere, but unfortunately it didn’t work out the way I’d hoped due to Smashwords delays. I plan to remove it from most of Smashwords distribution channels once the sale ends at the beginning of Nov.

    You’re welcome. I’ll be at Skyfall on its opening weekend. 🙂

  3. ‘I don’t think I’ll be doing it again because I haven’t seen a significant difference between a .99 price point and free.’

    Good point. I don’t either.

  4. Comment from a reader. I had not known of you series, although I had read other some other titles in print, but the reduced price got my attention. Since reading Riot, I am working through your other e-titles. I would not totally dismiss the marketing method for garnering interest if new fans. I have liked all I have read so far, so thank you for the fun read.

  5. Hi Grace! Thanks so much for dropping by. I’m glad you are enjoying the books. I agree that the lower price does help gain new readers, but I’m not sure the free price does. I will experiment more in the future. 🙂