If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw


Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.


Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/


Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)


Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:


Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Early Results from a Free Book Promotion


Not quite a month ago my WWK blog Free or Not to Free—THAT is the question addressed my assumptions about what would happen when I offered the Kindle version of the first in my Seamus McCree series for five days for free. Here is a summary from that blog:

My hypothesis goes something like this: For every 1,000 downloads, say 10% read the book. Of those, say 10% become fans and read the entire series. At current pricing, it costs them $15 to buy the other four books. Under those assumptions, each 1,000 downloads will result in $150 of sales ($100 of royalties). Plus, I expect I’ll end up with more read Kindle Unlimited pages, and I hope the publicity will spur sales of other books in the series to people who have read and liked my novels but not been motivated to buy the next in the series.

To estimate the effect of the giveaway, it’s necessary to develop a baseline: what might have happened had I not offered the five days of free downloads. During the thirty days before the five free-promotion days, I had no promotions in effect and sold a walloping nine Kindle books. Kindle Unlimited reads during that period totaled a paltry 3,637 pages. Total earnings for those thirty days: $42.

Results of the promotion

The ad cost $150 and resulted in 5,961 downloads of Ant Farm. During the promotion, Ant Farm reached #1 bestseller for free Kindle ebooks in the Suspense and Private Investigator categories, and #22 overall.

Given the nearly 6,000 downloads, my hypothesis proposes I should gain long-term earnings of $600 from Kindle books sales. In addition, I expected to significantly increase the number of Kindle Unlimited Pages read. The chart below shows the results for the twenty-four days starting with the first day of the promotion (through June 10, 2018 – the day I wrote the first draft of this blog).

Book
Kindle Sold
Royalty
KU Pages Read
Estimated Total Revenue
Ant Farm
5
$14
24,782
$125
Bad Policy
31
65
18,446
148
Cabin Fever
21
59
12,937
117
Doubtful Relations
17
47
9,993
92
Empty Promises
13
36
9,549
79
Total
87
$221
75,707
$561

My expectation was and still is that the hoped-for $600 earnings from Kindle ebooks will occur over a long period (and therefore be difficult to measure precisely). However, I have already earned about a third of that amount.

I also theorize that “binge” readers of Kindle ebooks belong to Kindle Unlimited because it makes economic sense for them to pay $9.99/month rather than buy individual books. If that assumption is correct, KU pages read resulting from the ad will be front-loaded relative to purchased ebooks. The first twenty-four days of KU reads produced an estimated $340 (at $.0045/page). The rate of pages read quickly reached 2,500 a day, eventually increased to as many as 5,000 a day and has dropped off to 3,000 a day. I’ll be interested to see how long the tail of the distribution is. Also fascinating to me is that many KU readers don’t bother downloading free books; they prefer to read them through KU. That’s great for me because the nearly 25,000 pages of Ant Farm they have read generated over $100 of income for me.

The ROI on my $150 investment has already reached 350% —clearly a terrific investment. As a bonus, the number of Goodreads reviews and ratings has increased, pushing the series total to more than 200 ratings, averaging 4.33 stars. Amazon ratings have also ticked up a little (the series now has 148 reviews averaging 4.67 stars).

Considerations and Unknowables

A single ad. I decided to run only a single ad for this promotion besides announcing the free days in my newsletter. Had I purchased other ads, I would have generated more downloads at an increased cost. As the results for the month before the promotion illustrate, without promotion, sales of the series die. I chose to save those other advertising possibilities for future promotions. Their mailing lists will have considerable overlap with the one I chose, but each has unique subscribers, and periodic promotions will (a) reach new readers, and (b) remind others of the series. Time will tell.

Amazon-only ebook distribution. My overall sales strategy is predicated on granting Amazon exclusive rights to sell my electronic books. There is no way to measure what might have happened with a similar promotion had the electronic books been available on all platforms, but unavailable on KU. I have noted in earlier blogs that when my publisher used a wide distribution, non-Kindle ebooks ran about 25% of Kindle sales. My KU revenue runs 53% of ebook sales. That percentage will increase after this latest promotion. Single-sourcing electronic book sales with Amazon has been a good decision for me—so far.

Diminishing returns. This promotion was the first time Ant Farm was offered free, other than the free books provided at the book’s birth as a Kindle Scout selection three years ago. I plan to make Ant Farm free again in the future, and I’m anxious to learn how effective periodic promotions will be. As more people have the opportunity to download the book, returns should diminish. The 6,000 readers represent a small percentage of the potential market for the series making it uncertain how steeply the returns will diminish.

Uncontrollable. There are many things that can affect my results I cannot control for in this experiment. I didn’t check the moon phase, whether Mercury was in retrograde, or another astronomical phenomenon. I don’t know whether mid-May works better or worse for a free promotion than other times of the year. I have no ability to test whether changing the sales copy for the free promotion could have resulted in more downloads or sales. So many unknowns, so little certainty.
My experiments will continue.
* * *
James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. Empty Promises, the fifth novel in the series—this one set in the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—is now available. You can sign up for his newsletter and find more information about Jim and his books at https://jamesmjackson.com.

10 comments:

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks, Jim I appreciate you doing the experimentation and analysis and then sharing it with us.

Of course, one of the factors it's hard to judge is how much the results, especially sales of other books, are due to how good a read your books are.

They are a very good read, so I think getting the one book free does encourage people to buy the others,

Jim Jackson said...

KM -- Your point is well-taken: that having a well-written book helps. However, as we know from many poorly-written books that are mega-bestsellers, writing is not necessarily the most important aspect in determining book sales.

Annette said...

Fascinating information, Jim. As someone whose eyes roll back in her head when forced to crunch numbers, I appreciate you taking the time to break it down and share this with us.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Very interesting. Keep us updated.

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Great analysis, thank you Jim

Warren Bull said...

Absolutely essential to have an excellent first book in the series, which you do.

Kait said...

Terrific information, Jim, please keep us updated!

Nupur said...

Great analysis! And it looks like with the total revenue, you’re close to your estimated total royalties of $600. Even if they haven’t all come from sales, you have reached about as many readers as you expected to. With word-of-mouth, you’ll reach even more.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks for doing all the analysis. I look at writers investing money in different types of promotion activities, and it makes me wonder if it is worth their investment, especially when I read where someone paid $400 for a book trailer. We need to look at ROI, and I don't think some people have a clear idea how to do that.

Jim Jackson said...

Grace,

I'm a finance guy, so looking at my writing business through that lens comes naturally to me.

ROI (return on investment) is simply the revenues received divided by the expenses incurred to generate the revenues. To measure the effect of my five-day free Kindle book promotion for Ant Farm requires me to take the revenue earned and subtract what I would have otherwise expected without any promotion, and then take that net amount and divide it by the cost of the promotion.

Given authors do not include a cost for the time they spend creating a promotion, the ROI must be much higher than for a typical business (where 125% is usually pretty good and 150% quite excellent). Because I "give away" my time to create the promotions, I figure anything less than 200% ROI means I should have been doing something else.