A Book-Promotion Experiment: The Book as Soap Sample

My first novel, THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS, is a story about a young woman who must go home and confront her past when she learns that her mother — to whom she has not spoken in several years — is dying. It won the Writers Guild of Alberta award for excellence in Writing, Novel Category waaay back in 1988.

As a promotion of the impending release of the Kindle version of THE WHOLE CLOVE DIET, The Woman Upstairs is downloadable on Kindle at no charge for four days only (March 25 to 28, 2012).

In other words, I’m using my first novel as a free sample for a few days, like a little box of soap flakes, to promote my new novel.

Last year I rereleased The Woman Upstairs (NeWest Press, 1987), which had been out of print for two decades, as a POD and an e-book through CreateSpace. It only cost me a couple of hundred dollars to have it scanned in. Plus I had a new cover made because I didn’t own the rights to the visual. I have done nothing to promote it aside from posting links here and there: I just figured that it was available and maybe some day, when I published another book, it might sell a few copies.  I wanted it to be available in case.
As most readers here know, I am self-publishing my next novel, The Whole Clove Diet (it’s available now as paperback). I decided that, in anticipation of the release of the Kindle version of The Whole Clove Diet, I would test out the Kindle Direct Publishing “Free Promotion” option with The Woman Upstairs. This allows ebooks priced at $2.99 or more (which is the price point for accruing 70% royalties; anything less and you are down to 30%) to be given away for up to five days. (Of course, no royalties accrue on these books. Nothing times 70% is the same as nothing x 30%.)</div

So I started the sale Sunday morning, and I did not notice where the ranking was at that point, but I would guess The Woman Upstairs was probably a millionth or so on the best-seller list, like the paperback is. It was at about #4000 in the Kindle Free Store when I first started watching a few hours later.
I have been promoting it as much as I can on the social media, but that does not explain what has happened to it — there must be a lot of people who are finding it on some “free books” list somewhere from which they download everything in sight. In the past day it has moved up to #11 in Kindle Literary Fiction and #17 in Kindle Contemporary Fiction. But what really blows me away is that 1200 people have downloaded it. That’s almost more than the first print run, I think.
Who knows how many people who have downloaded it will ever get around to reading it, and better yet like it enough to pay for the new book (which is my master plan), but it’s been an interesting process. Here’s the link if you’re interested in watching what happens.
At the end of Wednesday, it will go back to $2.99, at which point I expect it to fall off the face of the earth again. But it’s the long term impact I’m interested, and I guess I may never know exactly what that is.

If you had told me five years ago (or even two) that I’d be giving my first novel away – even as an e-book and even only for four days – as a promotional device, as though it were a sample package of soap, I would not have believed you. But these are interesting time, and they call for creative approaches.

This is (one of) mine….

I’ll report back at some point on how this and other strategies for book promotion re: The Whole Clove Diet have worked out.

By the way, I have started yet another blog (my 10th, I think) for items related to The Whole Clove Diet, and diets in general.

And again, here’s the link to the free Kindle version of The Woman Upstairs.

(On March 29, it will go back to its usual astronomical ;) price of $2.99.)

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