So then, are free books dead?

The results of the free download offer:

In bald figures, there were 99 downloads of Polly Picked the Pistol Up in the USA, 53 in the UK and 3 in Canada. For the mathematically challenger that makes a not so grand total of 155 in five days. Compare that with earlier this year when I offered Kittie Cracks Case as a free download for a 3 day period which resulted in 854 downloads worldwide and also boosted sales for the following month. That may or may not happen this time around. So far the free offering has generated one review, although it was from a close personal friend albeit unsolicited. Hopefully he meant what he wrote. Last time round I got five reviews which were mixed which tends to reinforce the prevalent belief amongst us self-publishers that people are more inclined to complain about something they got for nothing rather than praise it if they enjoyed it.A big thank you to those who did enjoy it and took the trouble to say so.

So free downloads as a marketing tool are dead then?

On the face of it one would say a qualified yes. I did exactly the same marketing this time round, posting on this blog, the sailing blog and twitter. The only variable that I can think of was the book cover. Kittie Cracks Case sported a particularly handsome looking pussy cat on the cover. Might that have made a difference? Well there are a lot of cat lovers out there, it must be said.

I recently read on the BBC website that Zombie films and books are very popular.How about Zombie cats crept from the crypt as a next working title? Allegedly¬† Auberon Waugh, a witty and acerbic English writer and journalist sadly no longer with us as an experiment published a book containing the words ‘dogs’ and ‘Nazis’ on the basis that the English were fascinated by both. According to legend it became a best seller although unfortunately I can find no trace of it on the Internet. Possibly he mentioned the idea in one of his diary entries in Private Eye. Or it may be urban myth.

So what next?

As I find depression too depressing and can’t afford to become an alcoholic I suppose I’d better keep writing. The new Karno is taking shape and actually seems to be writing itself at the speed of a chapter a day. Should I persevere with Karno when he isn’t selling? Tricky question. One doesn’t like to admit failure and it might just be a matter of marketing. I’m not in a position to advertise although it can be done for as little (hah!) as US$100, publicising a free download on a site which lists all upcoming free titles. Karno of course is very English humour so maybe I need a hero with multi-national appeal and a more mid-Atlantic sense of humour. Or should that be humor if I want to attack the American market?

In the meantime I scan my inbox waiting for an email from the American publisher but I have stopped holding my breath. Tempting as it is to ‘take the books back’ and self-publish I’m interested if not positively desperate to see if Solstice market any better than I do. Certainly they claim to be one of the biggest American Indie publishers and one of the fastest growing so it might be premature to pull the plug in a fit of impatience.

All in all, I suppose the answer is to keep plugging away.

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