In Monday's post, I gave you the straight skinny on my experience during my recent KDP Select Free Days promotion for my romantic suspense Unwritten Rules. If you missed it or would like a refresher, I suggest you read the post below then come back. Today I'm sharing the numbers you really want to see - the reviews and sales figures - as well as what conclusions I can draw after little more than a week.
I ended my Free Days on a Friday night with 19,651 free downloads, so let's look at what happened over the course of the next week. Keep in mind that when I started the promotion, I had just six reviews for this book. I took all counts first thing in the morning.
16 sales, less 3 returns (Fortunately, a friend who had recently gone through this program warned me about the returns. A few people will download the book before realizing it's no longer free and ask for a refund.)
24 sales, less 5 returns
24 reviews; 19 5-stars, 4 4-stars, 1 3-star
31 sales, less 5 returns
27 reviews; 22 5-stars, 4 4-stars, 1 3-star
35 sales, less 5 returns
28 reviews; 23 5-stars, 4-4 stars, 1 3-star
Wednesday (I started to get a bit concerned here)
36 sales, less 5 returns
Thursday (still concerned, but this was Thanksgiving Day)
39 sales, less 5 returns
44 sales, less 5 returns
31 reviews; 25 5-stars, 5 4-stars, 1 3-star
47 sales, less 6 returns
33 reviews; 26 5-stars, 6 4-stars, 1 3-star
55 sales, less 6 returns
Also during this time, Amazon Prime members borrowed 4 copies. Since I will receive almost as much per copy from Amazon's special "pool" for these borrows as I do for a sale, I'm allowing myself to add them to the total count.
So, was it worth it? I think so. Fifty-nine sales are not very many compared to almost 20,000 free downloads, but I'm convinced they're 59 sales I probably would not have had otherwise. The most encouraging factor is that momentum still seems to be growing. During the first day and a half of December, I've had another 6 sales and 5 borrows, as well as another 5-star review.
Now let's talk about reviews. I know many authors say they never read their reviews. I'm not one of them. I always read my reviews. I take great satisfaction in knowing I've delighted or entertained a reader - particularly a stranger - and this free promotion was my first opportunity to reach a significant number of strangers. I've never had more than 5 reviews for any of my previous books, so 34 good reviews tells me I've achieved one of my writing goals - connecting with readers. I pay attention to the elements people say they particularly enjoyed and will use that information when I plan and write my next books.
One of the most gratifying aspects of these reviews is that many of them obviously come from non-romance readers. When they tell me the pacing and suspense elements worked for them, it means something. I've also received three great reviews from men, which tells me my writing may be even more mainstream than I hoped. Here's my favorite:
"As a guy I never thought I would read a romance novel but my wife had this out and the cover did catch my attention. My taste in fiction is pretty much John Grisham but he does not publish enough for my reading. The book will definitely keep your attention to the last page as one clever and mysterious plot line after another leaves the heroine and her entourage in dangerous and endangered situations. The only thing predictable in the book was the eventual romance. As someone who has lived in Chicago, Texas and the Central Coast I loved the detailed descriptions of these three places. The book alternates between writing from the male and female point of view so when I tired of reading about shopping trips I was quickly taken to the male point of view. I will look for other books by this author. This might make a good movie."
How can I not feel good about a review like that?
I know the numbers so far are minuscule for a successful author, but they're huge for me. None of my small-press published books did this well in such a short period of time, possibly because the publisher wasn't taking advantage of this program at the time. However, I have seen a definite bump in sales of my backlist, even though they are Western historicals rather than contemporary romantic suspense. In the week after my free period, I sold 16 of the older books, including 6 copies of a novella that hadn't sold a single copy since January.
Although none of this is going to make me rich, it's a validation that I'm doing something right, and sometimes that's all we need to keep going.