Thursday, September 26, 2013

Free E-book Experiences with Jinx Schwartz

Thanks for hosting me today, Dani.

I'd like to share with you today my FREE day results over the past year, but first here's how I got there: Wrote some books, self-published them, got picked up by a small publishing house, then decided to go indie. Simple, huh? Not so much.

Back before Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace, self-pubbing wasn't all that easy. Sure you ended up with a book to show off, but without good distribution and a publisher to help successfully hawk your wares (thus the split with my publisher) all you end up with is a closet full of books you lug around to book signings.

But then a miracle occurred: Kindle Direct Publishing Select, and with it a chance to get your books out there. Of course by now I had re-re-re-edited my books into what many consider a good read, so that helps. No matter how much you spend on publicity, or how much social media you ascribe to, if you don't have a well-written and edited book to offer your readers, they won't bang your drum... and that is what a writer needs: readers who love your books.

Yabbut, where do you find them? Enter (drum roll) BOOK BUB! Which brings us to the topic of the day: Do freebies work?

I know, your mother always said, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?" Of course, we all know she wasn't talking about books, but you get the idea. Why, indeed, would anyone give away books? Because it works, that's why.


My last freebie, Just Add Water, first in my Hetta Coffey series (she's a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht and she'd not afraid to use it!) was free on Amazon from August 16-18. But let me back up a year, when I first entered KDPS. During that time, I gave away approximately 60,000 books, and sold 6,000. My sales tanked over the winter when I was on my boat in Mexico without Internet (and if you don't think social media works to find new readers, quit using it for four months like I did and see what happens!).

In May I got back into marketing, and was slowly, and I do mean slowly, gaining ground, but it was the August Freebie that did the job.

August 15 Only 100 books sold for the month to date...pretty danged dismal

August 16 First Free Day, hit #1 on Amazon free list

Sold 280 other books, especially others in the series (there are five)

August 17 Still #1 Sold a bunch more books

August 18 Almost 50,000 free downloads. That means 50,000 new people now know my name!

August 22 Just Add Salt book 2 in the series hits the top 5000 in PAID on Amazon

August 29 1200 books sold since promo

Bottom line: I spent $240 on Book Bub, another $40 on other freebie promo sites, marketed the living daylights out of the freebie, and a month later my earnings are right at four thousand bucks since the promo. Not going to order a new boat on that kind of money, but what the heck. With my publisher I never sold that many books in a five-year period.

Will I do it again? You betcha. Matter of fact, my thriller, Troubled Sea is free from Sept 25-29, so grab a copy. Warning though, while Troubled Sea is about Hetta and Jenks, it is set in the future and not really part of the series. That's what happens when you write a stand-alone and then decided to back up in time and write a series based on WHEN HETTA MET JENKS.


Raised in the jungles of Haiti and Thailand, with returns to Texas in-between, Jinx Schwartz followed her father's steel-toed footsteps into the Construction and Engineering industry in hopes of building dams. Finding all the good rivers taken, she traveled the world defacing other landscapes with mega-projects in Alaska, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Like the protagonist in her mystery series, Hetta Coffey, Jinx was a woman with a yacht—and she wasn't afraid to use it—when she met her husband, Mad Dog Schwartz. They opted to become cash-poor cruisers rather than continue chasing the rat, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, turned left, and headed for Mexico. They now divide their time between Arizona and Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Connect with Jinx at her website, Facebook, blog, and Twitter.

34 comments :

  1. Jinx, I'm delighted to note that this flies in the face of so much I've heard about the Internet and social media not working to sell books. Thank you for sharing your experience and renewing my hope that I can actually use this fantastic international marketplace. :-)

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    1. Thanks Linda, for stopping by. I think the free thing is most successful for series, but my thriller is free right now and we shall see!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I tried BookBub, but they are very exclusive, and apparently I didn't have enough reviews to be accepted (I blogged about that Catch 22 here recently). I had better success with Pixel of Ink which picked up a temporary price reduction in on of my books--and I didn't have to pay. Heck, I didn't even know they'd picked it up until someone told me. There IS a lot of varying mileage with giving away books. Some say it's the best way to market; others point out those who grab free books rarely read them, so they won't review it or recommend it to others. I've never gone the free route for the simple reason that I refuse to give Amazon exclusivity for 90 days because I firmly believe in being in as many markets as possible. You never know where someone will find you.

    You do make an important point--that if you don't have other books to 'back up' your freebie, you're probably not going to get very far.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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    1. "I've never gone the free route for the simple reason that I refuse to give Amazon exclusivity for 90 days because I firmly believe in being in as many markets as possible."

      I agree, Terry. Smashwords' distribution system is doing well for me, and I'd lose them with KDP Select. I did try it for a while, and it didn't lead to increased sales.

      I have hundreds of freebies on my Kindle, and I doubt that I'll ever read most of them.

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    2. Like I say, doesn't work for everyone, but works for me, for now. I never sold much on Smashwords, but everyone's experience is different.

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  3. Jinx, thanks for sharing your experiences. The experimental KDPS short story collection the BBT Cafe authors put together last summer gave very much the same results. With each round of free days, we had increased sales after. And I claim the prize for downloading book #1 in a series, then buying subsequent books to gobble up if I really like the first "taster"!

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    1. Thanks, Dani, for hosting me today. We shall see how Troubled Sea does. So far today 30,000 giveaways, and #1 in Action and Adventure, but since a thriller (book bub's choice of genre) and a stand-alone (sorta...read blog:-) may not result in such great sales after. srceea

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  4. Wait ... just a minute ... let's go back to that statement, 'on my boat in Mexico without Internet' ... kinda breezed by that ... how do you make THAT happen?

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    1. Ha, caught that, huh. I spent the winters aboard High Jinx in the Sea of Cortez, and have done for many years. That's when I write like crazy.

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  5. I don't think I could handle Internet deprivation!
    Your results are encouraging, Jinx!

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    1. Thanks Morgan...it was tough at first, but I got over it! Being at anchor in the Sea of Cortez makes up for a whole bunch of other stuff. Gives us a break from TV, Telephone and Internet. I think my blood pressure plummets...right along with my sales:-)

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  6. Thanks for adding to my KDP knowledge base! I'm trying to learn as much as I can before I dive into the pool.

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    1. Oh, go ahead, Elspeth (love your name) take the plunge!

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  7. I've had much the same experience, Jinx, and I'm posting here tomorrow to give my report. Hope you have many sales following your free days.

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    1. Looking forward to your take manana, Polly. j

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  8. I found the Kindle select to be useful as well. I've recently put my books back up on Nook Press, but if I don't see significant sales there, I will take them down and rely solely on Kindle.

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    1. We have to try it all. There is tough competition out there, so we want to give readers what THEY want: good books at great prices. Thanks, Diana, for visiting.

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    2. I agree, Jinx. You have to be available for readers everywhere you can. Even if the community doesn't seem large to you, a few disgruntled users just aren't worth it. Be available on every platform you can get on including iBooks although I've heard that can be a nightmare. What's your take on that platform?

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    3. And I agree with you, Dani. I don't speak of it tomorrow, but I'm in the process of getting my books on different platforms to expand my readership. This means I might take a hit on my earnings, but I'm looking for a long-term career--as long as these arthritic fingers can type away.

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    4. Baoding balls, Polly. Maybe I'll put up a YouTube this weekend. I'm not very good at using them, but I sure notice a difference with the stiff fingers.

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  9. Thanks Jinx, between your report and Terry's this is quite a meaty day at the BRP!

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    1. When you get authors talking...can't stop 'em! Thanks

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  10. I keep using your blog as a reference for other authors I know. I love it.

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    1. The BRP? Gosh, that's nice to read, Rebecka!

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  11. BTW, I haven't looked into ibooks, but I do know there is a app for that:-)

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    1. There must be more here http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/ and that looks like another blog post we need to write.

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    2. I use a site called Draft2Digital to get my books onto iBooks. It's not direct, but it's super easy, and you get a better sales reporting (and more frequent payments) than via Smashwords.

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  12. Jinx, I just noticed your book cover disappeared when the blog published. Sorry about that.

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    1. I didn't even notice. Oh, well, great blog stop you have here!

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  13. "No matter how much you spend on publicity, or how much social media you ascribe to, if you don't have a well-written and edited book to offer your readers, they won't bang your drum... and that is what a writer needs: readers who love your books."

    This is so very true. Excellent post!

    I appreciate your insight into KDP very much. Thank you!

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  14. www.jinxschwartz.comSeptember 26, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Thanks, Pam The cream always rises, as my granny always said...not that I am saying my books are the cream:-) but I do my best to put out a good product. I am constantly re-learning the craft of writing, and tweaking my books so they represent me, and my writing, in the best way possible.

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  15. Wow, what a terrific conversation! I hope you had lots of downloads, Jinx. Thanks for visiting!

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  16. Jinx, I can't imagine living without the Internet for four months, but I'm glad to hear that you find using social media does make a difference. I've had good experiences with KDP and with BookBub, but it's much better if you have more books out. Working on it! :-)
    Good luck to you!

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  17. Yes, Ellis, more books are good. I have 8 out now, working on #9. Thanks for stopping by.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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