The Great Experiment
Last week I put up my short story “Hiroko’s Tale” (Fables for Japan) for sale on Amazon. Now, I pretty much went in with the expectation that this short story wouldn’t generate much traffic. But I wanted to use something I felt proud of, to test the entire process. Using Scrivener‘s capability to compile a .MOBI file, I uploaded the story. This was January 17th.
The process was easy and straight forward. I have to hand it to Amazon, they’ve done an amazing job putting this together. I only ran into one hiccup, which ended up being a user error. Once I got over my stupidity the story was up and ready to download. I also made sure to enroll the piece into the Kindle Select Program (more on that later).
One option Amazon gives you is the ability to set up promotion days. Each month you’re given 5 days to make the book free to download. So, I decided to use all my five days right off the bat. January 19th – 23rd; I wanted to wait until after the black out day on the 18th.
My thought process was that by making it free for that time I could generate some traffic, some page rankings, maybe even pick up a few reviews. On the 17th and 18th I had three downloads; actual purchases. These were from three friends. Which I’m very grateful that they were willing to shell out $.99 for my little story. One of them even left a review, which was pretty sweet.
I went to bed on the 18th. At 12:01 a.m. the story went free and when I woke up my number of downloads had jumped to 22. In just a few hours of going free, it jumped just a little over 7 times my starting number. And the day just kept going like that. It skyrocketed! I was blown away at how many people were downloading it. By the end of the day I had roughly 260 downloads (I’m now kicking myself for not keeping a tighter track record).
The story had reached #1 in the Asian Arts section for free downloads (granted there was only one other option). But it was getting some attention, so it was exciting.
Here is where things changed.
The next day, the downloads slowed way down. And they kept slowing. Day after day they really started falling off. By the end of my 5 days I ended up with 400 free downloads. I think that’s pretty commendable for the style and length of the story. But it is what has happened after this that I find interesting.
It has stalled. 100%
I haven’t seen a download in days now. Which is rather impressive and speaks to just how powerful the free downloads are. But only to a point. The first day was HUGE, but after that I’m not sure it is worth it.
Kindle Select Program
Amazon also offers an opt in service they call Kindle Select Program. If you enroll, you offer your book to be “checked out” for free from the Kindle Library. The user must be an Amazon Prime member and they will have the book for somewhere around two weeks. Much like a normal library.
What Amazon has done is to set aside a pool of money (in the case of January it is $700,000) as an incentive for authors to enroll in the program. Then the authors are eligible to receive a portion of this money based on the number downloads they get for their book. The only stipulation is that your book cannot be sold anywhere else.
Not a bad deal if you ask me. I enrolled “Hiroko’s Tale” but so far haven’t had any bites.
The Next Step
I’ve got one more thing I want to test. For the last few days of January I’m going to pump the price up. I want to see how pricing makes an effect. The story is only 1250 words long, so I feel bad charging more than $.99, but in the spirit of science I need to see what will happen.
Come February I’ll drop it back down to $.99 because I have an ad placed in the upcoming eFiction magazine, so I’d like to keep from false advertising.
I also have a slew of short stories I can upload as well. I just need to find time to make covers for them.
But it is not like I’m busy writing a novel or anything, right? Write.