This month Ryan and Essie is available for free as part of a giveaway of children’s and young adult books. You'll find lots of books about young people of all ages from preschool to high school. This is the first time in years that I’ve made Ryan and Essie free except for review copies—and it will be the last time for the foreseeable future. So now is your chance to get a rare free copy of this book. Follow this link to see it in addition to books by many other authors.
I have given some books over the last few months because I have a specific goal in mind—to get readers who came because they were interested in these books that I made free. That sounds obvious, but it’s really important. I spoke once before about some of my books receiving disproportionate attention. You might think “well, weren’t those more popular, isn’t that good?” But actually, I felt the situation was a little trickier than that. I have only so much I plan to spend on marketing, so I need to know which books are likely to be smart investments. I didn't know for certain that the books receiving more attention were really the viable ones. Perhaps some of the smaller books had a quiet audience I wasn't hearing about. So while I of course wanted to sell my books, I also felt it was crucial to learn how big a draw each book would actually be if it was easily available (free, for instance) and presented to readers in a way that would draw attention (as free always does.)
I've gone through the majority of the books now using this method. There were no winners and losers, just truthfulness. I didn’t find a book to be inferior or less valid just because it drew smaller initial downloads, if it attracted more active subscribers and fewer freeloaders who never opened even one email. Some books with seemingly successful giveaway campaigns actually gave me a lot of unengaged readers who opened and then quickly stopped reading my messages, which left me with a guess as to how they were doing with the book they downloaded. Then there were promotions in the middle, with some of both. The numbers game wasn’t about aiming for lots of downloads. It was about trying to find a trajectory for both the more talked-about and the less-noticed books on my publication list. And I learned a lot of fantastic things.
Using various books as entry points helped my newsletter to become more balanced. I felt as if I had “voices” for most of my books now whereas that had been lacking before. And yes, some of the ones that had always received more attention continued to get it. But I certainly haven’t committed to free as a promotion strategy instead of sales. In fact, as I also ran paid promotions throughout last year, the books started to develop some interesting demographics based on both free and paid events that helped give me concepts like “people would download this for free, but not buy it,” “this has a small, but sincerely dedicated audience,” “this book is JUST small,” “this one is surprisingly popular,” and so on. I put Ryan and Essie through a sale last year, but haven’t cross-matched it with a free event, which is why I’m doing one now. It needs full representation on my list.
And there will be more updates.
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