This weekend has been a wonderful learning experience. To say that I have been blown away with the response to my free promotion would be an understatement. I ran the fill gamut of emotions, from surprise, to excitement, to pinching myself to see if it was real. If the next few paragraphs come across as boasting, I apologise. It’s not. I’m just trying to get my head around it all.
Some authors are against giving their work away for free. I can understand why. When it takes a year or more of hard work to write a book, why should people have it for nothing? I see it a little differently. While I want to earn money from my work, I also know that the biggest challenge to a self-published author is visibility. The more people who see our work, the more chance we have of generating a word-of-mouth buzz. I discovered many of my favourite authors through friends lending me copies of their books. I may not have paid for that particular book but I certainly paid for everything else the author wrote.
Saying that, my expectations for the promotion weren’t high. Having spoken to a couple of authors who ran free promotions at a similar stage in their publishing career as myself, I thought it realistic to have 100 downloads over the two days. My hope was that possibly 200-300 copies would be downloaded. To put that number into perspective, it would be close to twice the number of copies than I had sold since launch. I knew I was being a little greedy but hey, one could dream.
In the end over the two day period my book was downloaded over 1000 times. At one point I was no.8 in the Amazon.co.uk free Science Fiction charts as well as no.1 in the Dystopian and Cyberpunk sub charts. On Amazon.com I made it to no.16 in the Science Fiction charts and No.2 in the Cyberpunk and No.3 in the Dystopian charts. I was also in the top 10 of the UK Thriller charts, top 20 in the US thriller charts. All from a 2 day promotion.
The kindness of strangers
I didn’t pay any money to advertise the promotion. The only promotional avenues I used were via social media. Many friends and family shared my promotion on Facebook, to which I am very grateful. Probably the biggest promotional boost, though, came via twitter. I’ve spoken about how I’ve come to like twitter in the past, how what started as a means to promote myself became a great way to meet like-minded people. I have rarely promoted via twitter but for this weekend only I sent a total of 13 tweets letting people know my book was available for free. I was worried it was too much as I didn’t want to fill people’s inboxes with tweets saying ME, ME, ME!
What happened next was wonderful. Many of the people I had befriended via twitter retweeted my tweets. This meant they were seen by all their twitter friends, some of whom retweeted them on again, and again. Through these acts of kindness, enough people decided to take up my promotion to send my book into the charts. Once visible, it enabled many, many more Kindle readers to find out about my book and download it. If it wasn’t for the kindness of these people, my promotion would never have been as successful as it was.
The fear of success
Of course, having this many downloads means that there are now hundreds of people all over the world who will now judge my work. For somebody as self-critical as myself, that’s a terrifying thought. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to have had a number of good reviews to date, a small part of me is just waiting to be pointed out as a fraud. This isn’t a plea for sympathy, I would much rather be in the position I am in than have nobody read my work, but I’ve now realised that I’ve passed the point of no return as far as critical anonymity is concerned.
Writing is not everything
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that while all this has been very exciting, the thing that gave me most pleasure this weekend was watching my 7-year-old play his first cricket match of the season and taking his first wicket. It put everything else into perspective.