Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Does Offering A FREE Book on Amazon Help?

Solstice Publishing offered my novel, The Substitute, for "free" on Amazon from October 31 through November 2, 2014. Not knowing what impact that might have on the ranking of my other novels, I wanted to try that as well. Here is what I learned. The first chart below shows what happened to The Substitute sales ranking during the "free" period. If the chart is to be believed, "free sales" went through the roof. I advertised on social media a lot, so that was a good thing. What happened to the other books in the Miss Havana series; however, surprised me. 

The next chart below shows the impact on the second novel in the series, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! To my surprise, there was a jump in ranking there as well. Although I promoted all four books in the series during the "free period" for The Substitute, I did not expect dramatic changes in the ranking of any of the other books, at least not right away. My hope was that, if a reader tried the first book in the series, then perhaps the same reader might be tempted to read the next, and so on. After all, temptation is what Miss Havana is all about.

Next I looked at the ranking for The Trophy Wife, as shown at left. Again, there is significant improvement in ranking. However, this time I also note the bi-modal appearance of the chart. I have no idea why the first spike is in the diagram, and can only conclude that very few sales can lead to large changes in the book's Amazon ranking because my sales are traditionally not all that great. What is clear is that the "free period" for The Substitute did impact the ranking for The Trophy Wife as well. Again, that was a surprise because I expected any increases in ranking, assuming there were some, would come after the promotion period for The Substitute was complete.

Finally, I considered the Amazon ranking for The Training Bra (left). That surprised me too, but only because it shows what I expected from the other books in the first place. For that book, the ranking looks dismal with no change to the downward trend. That's disappointing from my point of view for obvious reasons, but I will now use that novel's Amazon ranking to subsequently determine if the "free period" for The Substitute was worthwhile. In other words, if people like what they found in The Substitute, The Trophy Wife, and Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! ... then they might buy The Training Bra as well. Only time will tell.

There was another surprise for me in the ranking charts. That is, the book that consistently enjoys the best ranking is Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! That novel also has consistent five-star ratings. Why is that a surprise? Because it is the only one of the four novels that has a socially redeeming point. The others are written for comedy alone, not for social statement. Maybe there is a message there. From my perspective, however, I would rate on comedy alone, and I consider The Trophy Wife the best, followed by The Training Bra, The Substitute and then Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! That's just me. I not at all sure that anyone cares what an author thinks about his own books.

I hope this has been helpful for those of you considering offering your book for free on Amazon. I'll let you all know in time if there was a sales impact as well as a ranking impact.

Thank you for reading,

James L. Hatch


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, James - thanks for the insight on freebies and what they can do for sales.

James L. Hatch said...

Thanks, Tina. I thought it was interesting and I've never seen anyone actually post what happened to their ranking. I will post my experience with sales later, as well as my experience with "Thunderclap." BTW, thank you for your support for that effort as well.

jean hart stewart said...

Very interesting, James.

James L. Hatch said...

Thanks, Jean. It's hard to find any data. More interesting, however, will be to see if there was any impact on sales. I'll let you know.

ryan field said...

Good post. I would love to do freebies on Amazon just for readers alone, but the problem I always find is that Amazon wants to lock me into an exclusive, which ties me up with other distributors. And I like to support Smashwords and sites like ARe.

James L. Hatch said...

Very interesting comment, Ryan. I did not know that. In fact, my editor told me she would be listing my books on Smashwords just to enable readers to download the books in Nook format. Now, I have some checking to do.

Thank you for your input!