This post is going to look pretty heavily at the business end of my writing affairs, so if this is of no concern to you, feel free to move on (no hard feelings!).
Last week, my latest novel, Emergence, released. This one is a sequel to my prior novel, Convergence, and I thought I could use the nature of this series as a solid base to build my audience. So, my promotional efforts were largely focused on Convergence, since it’s Book 1, rather than the newly published sequel – although, Emergence did get some central attention in a few areas.
In order to ramp things up a bit, a few writer friends, some of whom were also collaborators on the No Way Home anthology, were kind enough to interview me for their blogs – and, by all means, check out their work as well!
Nadine Matheson at Spectrum Books: http://www.spectrumbooks.co.uk/#!Spectrum-Books-interviews-Michael-Patrick-Hicks/cu6k/55462a000cf24874170861ad
The ARC and Reviews
Here’s where things got a little more difficult.
I had hoped to launch Emergence with a handful of reviews (I had hoped for between 5 and 10), but the final ebook files came in a little bit later than I had anticipated and I was really itching to make my May 4 launch date. This only gave my reviewers and newsletter subscribers, who all got a free ARC, maybe an entire week to read and write their reviews. And that was if they all dropped everything to help me out, which is a pretty unfair and unrealistic expectation.
Next time around, I’ll plan on getting ARCs out sooner and shifting the release window if necessary. Although I didn’t hit my hoped-for numbers I did get four reviews pretty early on, which were spread out between May 6 – 8, and the early response has been very positive. I know there’s also at least one more on the way soon, too.
The Promotional Nitty-Gritty
In an effort to drive more readers toward these two books, I ran a week-long free run on Convergence and priced Emergence at 99c. A short while back, I made the decision to make Amazon my exclusive retailer so I could try out KDP Select.
One of the big perks of KDP is the Kindle Countdown, as well as the option of setting a free run. I also layered a few advertisements, kicking the week off with freebooksy on Monday, and bargainbooksy on Tuesday for Emergence. In between, there were ads in Book Barbarian, Betty BookFreak, SciFi365.net, and assorted others sites via eBookBooster.
The freebooksy advertisement on Convergence paid off immediately, with “sales” climbing throughout the day and hitting a peak of 2,889 downloads. The drop-off in sales from there was pretty steady as the week wore on, but the book was still getting downloaded for free into the early hours of Saturday morning before Amazon was able to revert the title back to its normal price in all regions.
I’m really happy with the results of the free promo, and by week’s end nearly 7,000 copies had been downloaded. The promo also helped push Convergence into some foreign territories for the very first time, with buyers popping up in Germany, France, India, Brazil, Australia, and even one in Italy and Japan! Safe to say, this is the largest reach my debut has enjoyed to date.
On the ranking end of things, these downloads pushed Convergence into the #44 slot in Amazon’s Top 100 Free store, and landed it in the #1 slot for both the Science Fiction category, as well as the Cyberpunk and Hard Science Fiction subcategories.
Emergence also performed above my expectations, which I admittedly tend to keep pretty low, particularly since I’m pretty new to the indie author game. Although the click-through rate between those who bought Convergence and also bought Emergence was very low, the sales were satisfactory enough. In fact, during this week-long release window, Emergence actually outsold the entire first year’s worth of Convergence sales.
Emergence started out strong on Monday with an even 60 sales. Tuesday, though, actually outperformed this, which I’m chalking up to the bargainbooksy ad. Unfortunately, sales had a pretty steep fall-off from there, dropping nearly by half every day following. Tuesday was the high-water mark with 69 paid sales, then 36, 20, 13, 6, and so on as the week continued.
Still, I can’t complain. Emergence made it into the Hot New Release charts for Cyberpunk titles and was even sitting at #1 there for a while (at the time of this writing, it’s #8), and has been pretty tenacious in holding on to its ranking in the Top 100 for the Cyberpunk subcategory. At one point it even broke into the Top 10 for its subgenre, and appeared on the subcategory of Genetic Engineering.
Another benefit of being enrolled in KDP is that it gives Kindle owners access to the Lending Library, and also makes it eligible for borrowing through Kindle Unlimited.
While these are not record-breaking numbers by any means, it does look like the promotion caught the attention of borrowers, particularly in the days following the sale’s end. This past week and early Monday morning (the time of this writing) has seen a handful of borrows for Emergence, and even a couple more sales for both titles.
As an added bonus, my perpetually under-performing short horror story, Consumption, even got a little bit of attention as a result of the promo and got a few borrows (five, to be precise). It’s been difficult to find an audience organically with that particular story, and I don’t do much in the way of advertising for it, so to see a little bit of activity surrounding it was a nice surprise. I’ve taken the liberty of raising the price point for this one and will be running a countdown deal on it next month (likely unadvertised, since much of my promo money went to scheduling ads for Convergence).
Furthermore, not only is Emergence still hanging on to its ranking in the Cyberpunk subcategory, but Convergence has even reappeared there in the wake of its return to the paid store. The borrows and post-sale purchases has put it (again, at the time of this writing) into the Top 50 Cyberpunk books in Amazon, and even caught an additional five-star review.
When I decided to enroll in KDP in March, it was in anticipation of the release of Emergence and my plans for promoting the DRMR novels. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the pay-off and am eager to see how the rest of the month goes. This was a solid release week, and the fairly steady growth in borrows gives me hope that there is an emerging audience (forgive the pun) that is finding and enjoying my work.
Now, back to writing my next novel, this one for the Apocalypse Weird line of books.