Lots of successful self-published authors (I’m talking about the big names: Konrath, Howey, Freethy, Andre) when asked by newbie writers to reveal the secret of their success are very often genuinely stumped. They can attribute some of it to clever social media marketing, perhaps some advertising via Bookbub, Pixel of Ink et al, and of course they always advise the importance of writing a great book, making a great cover, then rinsing and repeating. But when it comes down to what tipped them from the ranks of the also-rans to the giddy heights of superstardom they shrug and suggest luck may have played a part.
Well something happened to my sales this last week that I had absolutely no control over. I can only attribute it to plain, dumb luck.
Here’s how it happened (I think – could have been a big fat coincidence, but as a writer of mysteries, I tend not to subscribe to those)…
A few weeks ago I made the first book in the Women Sleuths series, The Loyal Servant, free on Smashwords and waited for Amazon to price match. Which they duly did. Nothing much happened to download numbers in the US, but gradually, here in the UK, lots of readers took a chance and added the book to their reading lists. Around 40,000 of them. This meant that I scaled the heights of the free Kindle chart, making it (albeit briefly) all the way to the number 1 slot. Lots of people then read the book, enjoyed it, and some were kind enough to leave me lovely reviews. This activity boosted sales of books 2 and 3 in the series: The Senior Moment and The Third Estate. Which was fantastic – a sales strategy (as outlined on the Self Publishing Podcast here by Ed Robertson) actually came good for me. Hurrah.
But then at the beginning of this week something peculiar happened. Following the WHSmiths/Mail on Sunday furore and the subsequent withdrawal of most (if not all) self published titles on the Kobo book store, The Loyal Servant reverted back to its list price on Amazon of 99p. When I discovered this on Tuesday morning, not wanting to lose my top 5 ranking on the free chart, I quickly tried to get Amazon to price match via Nook, which didn’t happen. I then watched from the sidelines, unable to influence events in any way, as the book started to climb up the paid Kindle chart. The little blighter got all the way to number 45 before losing momentum, bless it.
The increased visibility also resulted in higher sales for the other two novels and even the two short stories I have available. A fantastic result. But not one I was in control of. Although that has been frustrating, it’s also been rather a thrill.
I’d never thought I’d say this, but thank you Mail on Sunday and your Mary Whitehouse tendencies – you played a blinder!
For those of you interested in picking up a prize-winning political thriller for a mere 99p, you can find The Loyal Servant on Amazon UK here.
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