The View From the (Almost) Top

Let me tell you about the past few days.

About a month ago, I decided to enroll my book, Better Off Without Him, in something called KDP Select. That’s a program at Amazon where you promise to sell your eBook exclusively through them, and they give you the opportunity to schedule ‘free days’ for your book.

Now why, you may ask, would you want to take a book that some people are willing to pay perfectly good money for, and offer it for free?

Well, the theory here is that if lots of people download it for free, and like it, they will tell all their friends, all the folks in their book clubs, the pool-cleaning guy – you know, everybody – and all those everybodys will go out and pay for it.

There’s also the theory that if you have other titles available, those people who loved the freebie will be willing to pay for other titles by their new-favorite writer.

So, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I pulled my book from Barnes & Noble. This hurt, because I work for B&N. But the truth is, I was selling very few books there, and even though I have been a sterling employee for over six years, when I asked Corporate if they would give my title any extra consideration on the B&N site – you know, me being a fellow drone and all – I got a resounding ‘NO’. So it didn’t hurt that much.

Then I pulled the title from Smashwords. Now, let me tell you, Smashwords is a pain in my butt. It was really hard for me to get my book formatted properly for them, and I hardly ever sold anything with them, but they were the first guys to publish my book, and I felt really guilty about this. But I was all in for Select.

I started reading everything there was to read about how to have a successful run on those mysterious and all-powerful ‘free days’. Let me tell you, the authors who post on Kindleboards are the nicest, most generous people in the world. I cut and pasted every piece of advice I could find until I had over six pages of sites, suggestions and lists. The only thing that was missing was – another title.

That’s when I pulled my first book out of cyber-storage, dusted it off, made a cover, and threw it out there. For those of you who liked A Different Kind of Forever, I might have never thought about publishing it had it not been for putting BOWH in Select.

So – I began sending emails to places like Pixel of Ink and ENT. I oiled up my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I contacted bloggers who had liked BOWH and let them know when it was going ‘free.’ I went through my Select Advice file like Sherman through Georgia until I had (hopefully) covered all of my bases. Then, at 5 am on Wednesday morning, I woke up and sent out my first Tweet. I spent over an hour posting and Tweeting my little tush off. I sacrificed my old paperback version of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the Select Gods and went to work.

I have access to the Internet at the store, of course, so I could sit and watch my little title working it’s way slowly through the Kindle Free Bestsellers list. When it got to 114, I was thrilled. I remember reading something about breaking into the top 100 being a really big deal. Then, it happened. Pixel of Ink featured my title in their afternoon feature. By the time I got home from work, I was #9.

As I mentioned to the folks on Kindleboards, writers should always marry writers. My husband could not understand what the big deal was. Free? That means no one paid for it? Why was that good? Will Amazon place you in a position of importance? Will I get lots of reviews? Sigh…at least some of my Facebook author friends were excited for me. Then I hit #4.

This is where panic set in. I was running the book free for two days. Here I was, at the end of day one, sitting at #4. The whole idea was to end on a high note and let all that momentum carry my title into sales and fame and fortune. I had another whole day – I could easily slide back into oblivion and all my hard work would be lost.

But – the next morning, got up early, Tweeted, posted, went to work, and promised myself I would NOT check the standings every five minutes. So I didn’t. I only checked every hour.

Everyone in the store was on Kindle Watch. They all heard the updates. When I went to #3, they all cheered for me. My fellow bloggers posted the whole Amazon page on Facebook, where my pink cover was shining out bravely. I kept checking to see if the local NBC affiliate had sent a news truck to the store, but, obviously, it was a heavy news day.

When I got home, I was #2. Pomegranate martini time. Even though it was Thursday.

This morning, my pink cover was gone from the Bestsellers page. The little hussy who was #1 yesterday is #1 again today, but that’s okay. My ranking is lower than it ever was, but I know it will creep back up. I’ve already gotten emails from readers saying how much they loved my book. And so far – 6 sales of A Different Kind of Forever.

Final free downloads – 33869.

Thank you, Amazon readers. This was the wildest ride of my life.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tarin
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 01:43:13

    I am about 90% of the way through Better Off Without Him and the only disappointing thing I can say is that I can only find one other book written by you! I’m so excited to read that one b/c of how much I love this one! Hope to see more from you soon!

    Reply

  2. Ami Blackwelder (@amiblackwelder)
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 00:22:49

    GREAT JOB! My highest was 8,500 downloads in a couple days and so compared to 33,000+, I can only say WOW! I bore the top lists and made #1 on a few…but yours did amazing! Something to watch out for! Good job!

    http://amiblackwelder.blogspot.com

    Reply

  3. Kristall
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 23:16:30

    Your book sold because it was well written and fun and satisfying. Well done! Now light a fire under that agent of yours!

    Reply

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