Prime Time!

 

Writer’s diary: stardate: 21.11.2013.

Every now and again I write an entry in my writer’s diary that might interest someone other than me. Even more rarely I write a blog post that might be of interest to other writers hawking their output on Amazon or thinking about it. This could be one of them.

A little while ago I enrolled all of my books in Amazon’s KDP Select Programme. I noticed that other canny self-publishers with several books to their names had all of theirs available in this way. Working on the twin principles of, if-it’s-good-enough-for-him-it’s-good-enough-for-me and there must be something in it, I belly-flopped in.

As part of this initiative paid up, card carrying members of Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library have the opportunity to borrow books for free. The monetary benefit to the author is that every recorded download entitles one to a share of the monthly global fund! I’ve seen others complaining that this big Amazon incentive is not as potentially profitable as one might think. (By the time the global fund of maybe a million dollars or thereabouts is split between a few hundred thousand downloads of a few hundred thousand author’s books the dividend per book is not worth much.) But still, as an indie-desperado I’ll try any gimmick that might raise the profile and readership numbers of my books. Even giving away my books for free.

This month I scrutinized my Amazon royalty payment schedule a little closer than normal and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve had a few downloads of my books through the Prime programme. When I sell one of my 77p books through Amazon in the normal way I receive 25p profit. According to my remittance advice for last month, every time a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library member downloaded one of these same books I received £1.56 – six times what I get for a normal sale. That was a surprise.

It made me think of the people I’ve seen moaning about the money involved. Probably they are the writers who are selling their books for a few quid each in the normal way and therefore making a few quid per download. £1.56 would seem rubbish to them. But to me, every download is another can of Special Brew. Cheers!

The price of free publicity.

 

Writer’s blog: Stardate: 26.09.2013

Tuesday

Last Friday I decided, pretty much off the cuff, to enrol my books in the Amazon KDP Select lending programme. Sales of the R&M books have looked stale for a while and I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t try something to inject a bit of interest into the books and maybe provide a boost to sales and, of course, it gives one a few days in the ninety day enrolment period to give one’s books away for free (if one can). I also thought that the initiative would be an opportunity to give the Acer Sansom novels a boot up the backside. I keep abreast of a few of the big selling ebook authors and I’ve noticed that several have all their books enrolled. They must know what they’re doing, right?

I didn’t sign up in the expectation of earning trillions from Amazon’s monthly fund, but rather in the fumbling-around-in-the-dark sort of hope that, like a generous omniscient deity, Amazon, the all seeing and all powerful one true god of ebooks – peace be upon it – would see my act of giving – not to mention the benefit to them (like me joining in with a give-away programme) – and then there might be algorithm benefits – crumbs from the table, looking after their own, a bit of mutual back scratching. What’s the worst that can happen? I thought.

I scheduled Sunday for a day of give-aways. Strike while the iron is relatively warm, I thought, and before I had a chance to think the whole thing through and wonder what the hell I was doing. I harboured fantasies that these give-aways might also have some relevance vis-a-vis those algorithms – you know, Amazon gives some credit to the author in the form of a positive influence on the book’s ranking. (I have noticed that everything I seem to do lately has an ulterior motive, which ultimately has my selfish interest at heart. Like there’s no ‘i’ in team, there’s no ‘I’m-gonna-get-double-rich-and-double-famous-in-double-quick-time’ in altruistic.)

Well, it certainly had an influence on my rankings. But it wasn’t the one I’d hoped for. When Sunday’s promotion came to an end my title, Making a Killing (The Second Romney and Marsh File), had dropped out of the top 100 chart of the sub-category: fiction – crime/mystery/thrillers – police procedurals – British – set in Kent – without pictures – occasional swear words – between 230 and 240 pages long, where it had been languishing in the late nineties for a couple of weeks. On top of this Dirty Business (The First Acer Sansom Novel), which had been clawing its way up to the low thousands in the sales rank had, like the unfortunate climber whose grip fails him, fallen off the face of the rankings cliff to disappear without trace into the ebook abyss below. This must have been because I had been busy giving away my books instead of selling them. Why does that seem unfair to me?

On the free day I gave away over 900 copies of Making a Killing. I’ve spent much of this week trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t have sold them, would I?; that I haven’t just done myself out of £900, have I?. Oh Amazon, I haven’t have I? What was I thinking?

I made two (other) mistakes regarding the promotional day that I am regretful of: 1) I neglected to mention it on any of my social networking sites – doh! 2) I forgot to download copies for myself – double doh! I really wanted to see my covers on my Kindle fire, but I’m not buying my books for the privilege.  I’ve got better things to spend my hard-earned on.

One other awkward mistake I made in the whole initiative was to register Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) with KDP Select when it was still available through Smashwords. In doing this I have fallen foul of Amazon. They don’t miss anything. The warning email wasn’t long in coming. Sort it out or we’ll send the boys round. So then I had another decision to make: leave it on Smashwords where it had been listed on Barnes and Noble and ibooks, for two examples, in the hope of reaching a wider audience, or unpublish it from there and throw my lot in completely with Amazon by providing them with the exclusivity they demand.

Since December, 2012, when I first made Rope Enough available for free on Smashwords it has been downloaded through all the available outlet’s stores a total of 839 times. On Sunday as part of the free promotion (yes, it has also been free on Amazon since they price-matched it to zero, but registering it in the KDP Select programme came with free days so I thought I’d use a free listing day for my already free book and see what happened) it was downloaded nearly 1500 times. [Go figure.] Another no-brainer. I cut my ties with Smashwords. (And I have just this instant, while typing this post, realised that in doing that the book will no longer be listed as free on Amazon’s competition sites and so Amazon will no longer feel obliged to price-match to zero and Rope Enough will no doubt very shortly revert back to £0.77 on Amazon.) Swings and roundabouts.

Now I suppose I just have to wait patiently to see if there are actually any benefits from free give-aways and enrolling in KDP Select. Early days.

Thursday

Thought I’d update the bigger picture now that some of the dust has settled. Rope Enough jumped twenty places up the free chart for a couple of days and has now gone back to roughly where it was before the promotion. (This represents an obvious increase in downloads that might see readers look to download another in the series.) At the time of writing, Making a Killing is up to number twenty-four in the police procedural sub-category (it hasn’t been that high for a long time) which obviously represents an increase in downloads. Joint Enterprise (The third Romney and Marsh File) has not seen any significant knock-on (more early days). Both the Sansoms are higher in the ranking than at any time since their release, which is encouraging. Loose Ends (The Second Acer Sansom Novel) even broke into the Action Adventure chart for a short while.

It’s all pretty inconclusive really. I’m just relating for posterity what I’ve been up to. But I seek comfort in my belief that my give-aways will turn up on ‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’ types of list and so that’s a bit of publicity. And you know what they say about publicity.

So far, so bloody brilliant!

Wordpress stats

Writer’s Blog: Stardate: 02.06.2013

I’m going on holiday tomorrow. I’m going back to the UK for five weeks. I heard that. Before you say anymore, I’m a teacher. I deserve it. Don’t believe me, try it for yourself, or ask someone you know in the job. Flipping energy-vampires. I’m knackered. And don’t forget I’m an author too. And a dad of a two year old with so much enthusiasm for life he makes Forest Gump look like a couch-potato.

This will be my last blog-post until I return to Istanbul in August. I’m having a break. I’m making that decision now so that I don’t have to suffer the self-imposed pressure to churn out another instalment in my spluttering attempts to be an author of note. (Yeah, I’ve cranked it up. I want to be an author of note now [whatever that means. Some other woolly term to trouble my sleep patterns.] not just an author. One thing that I’ve learned: in this day and age anyone can be an author.)

So this seems like a good and timely opportunity to look back on my first six monthish as a self-publisher. A bit of stock-taking as in taking stock. And please remember: this blog is essentially an on-line diary of my experiences as someone trying to make it as an author (now of note), so a six month review of how things have gone so far doesn’t seem too self-indulgent. If it does to you, you know where the delete button is.

It all started here https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/stage-1-completeish/?preview=true&preview_id=3&preview_nonce=b4206811ff&post_format=standard

In early-December, 2012. I uploaded Rope Enough to Amazon and Smashwords. At the end of that month Making a Killing went up on both and in mid-January of this year Joint Enterprise joined them.

The following figures are only for Amazon UK. (The books just haven’t taken off at all across the pond. Perhaps British police-procedurals aren’t their thing. Perhaps Amazon was kinder to me in the UK by putting my books on some lists to get them noticed.) I’ve already established that I don’t do much self-promotion. Smashwords, as I have blogged, could not hold a cheap tallow taper to Amazon for me. I’m sure Smashwords works better for others.

So, through Amazon UK, Rope Enough has been downloaded over 56,000 times. (Before anyone gets too excited for me, over 55,900 of those were free downloads – list price for the sold copies netted me @35p an ebook. You can laugh.) Making a Killing has been downloaded over 4000 times. (A good number of those were through Amazon’s KDP free days. Not so funny.) Joint Enterprise has been downloaded over 2000 times. None of those were freebies. (Now who’s laughing?)

It’s really worth repeating that if Amazon had not price-matched Rope Enough – The First Romney and Marsh File to free then in all likelihood I would still be getting download figures each month in the tens. To illustrate that, February was a typical month for me for downloads: Rope Enough 8, Making a Killing 4, Joint Enterprise 2. March was a little more encouraging but the figures were influenced by my KDP free lisiting days for Making a Killing, which I had enrolled in KDP Select. After the price matching in April things really started happening. The vast majority of the downloads have come in the last three months.

The cover art cost me £100 a book. And that’s the only financial outlay that I’ve had to make.

I’ve got into blogging, something that I’ve really enjoyed. I’m as fond of my blog as I am any of my books. I tweet, but I’m less enthusiastic about that – too much noise. It’s like whistling in a summer dawn chorus.

I failed to win a place on the CWA Debut Dagger shortlist, something that I’m not embarrassed to admit I really wanted, had set my heart on and truly believed that I had a chance of.

I haven’t been idle. I have not been resting on my Romney and Marsh Files’ laurels. I have three other full length novels that are in various stages of the editing process. I have a hard-drive of ideas. I’m soon going to start the fourth Romney and Marsh.

WordPress stats tell me that my blog has been accessed by people from seventy five different countries, or places on earth that have their own flag. (See image above with a magnifying glass. I did my best.) That is an amazing stat. A great number of those people, I know, have either read a Romney and Marsh File or been scouring the Internet for information (let’s be honest, probably pictures or videos) on ‘Female Ejaculation and Gay Men’, one of my more popular blog-post titles. Were they disappointed? How I laugh every time I see another hit of that gem on the stats. https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/female-ejaculation-and-gay-men/?preview=true&preview_id=217&preview_nonce=27aee416c5&post_format=standard

So what’s been the best thing about this good start that is my foray into self-publishing? People actually. Or more precisely readers. Or more specifically readers of the Romney and Marsh Files who have taken the time and trouble to get in touch and let me know what they think of the books. It hasn’t all been good. But it’s all been valuable and gratefully received. Amazon comments, comments on the blog and private emails. I have been truly bowled over by the number of readers who have contacted me to say something about the books. I’ve had some wonderful, meaningful, and useful exchanges. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made some virtual friends. (Anyone who actually knows me is going to think that I’m either drunk or dying after reading that. I have more in common with DI Romney’s misanthropic side than I might have previously owned up to.)

If I hadn’t taken the decision to self-publish and be damned my three Romney and Marsh books would be still be skulking in the bottom of my wardrobe, under the bag of odd-socks, and I would have denied myself one of the most truly enjoyable episodes of my life.

Regrets? Not a one. I’m looking forward to the next six months.

Here’s wishing all the Romney and Marsh Files’ readers a great summer. Thank you one and all. (Even you Suzi.)

A Matter of Opinion

 

Writer’s blog: stardate: 03.05.2013

It’s been a big month for my self-publishing – the biggest in terms of downloads. Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) was price-matched by Amazon to £0.00 on the 9th April. In the month of April it was downloaded just under 25,000 times. As I’ve highlighted before, there’s no money in that for me, just plenty of free publicity, which to my mind has been well worth it. Things have started to tail off a bit now – Rope Enough was in the top ten free downloads for most of the month, but has since slipped to fifteen.  Of course, it’s to be expected. All good things come to an end and I am essentially still a nobody in publishing terms – a yesterday’s-news-is-today’s-chip-wrapper type of author. It’s not like I have a big fan-base to rely upon.

One very welcome upshot of these downloads has been that those who have gone on to read the book and then taken the time and trouble to comment on Amazon have generally left very encouraging comments. (One gentleman did say that he found the read tedious and would not be recommending it, but at least he didn’t torpedo me completely – he still gave the book a charitable three stars.)

All writers want their work to be well-received. I would venture to say that critical acclaim is more important to an aspiring writer than money (most of us have got jobs anyway). I’m finally getting the kind of feedback that I’ve been after – objective, critical, helpful, insightful and honest. And if I’d seriously considered the possibility of that I might have been a little more anxious. Amazon readers know what they like and they are nobody’s fools.

Something that I have noticed with some bafflement on Amazon is that authors rarely respond to readers reviews and comments – one or two do, but generally these responses are made to take issue with something in what, to my way of thinking, can only end up being a counter-productive exercise.

In another life I worked at a builders’ merchants. This was thirty years ago and still I remember a poster that we had on the office wall – No-One Ever Won An Argument With A Customer. And again, I’m reminded of another similar slogan – Customers Might Not Always Be Right, But They are Always the Customer.

As nobodies, we self-published authors must seek to take every opportunity to engage with our readers positively, politely and constructively, mustn’t we? Doesn’t that just make good sense? If someone is going to take the time and trouble to read our books, more often than not pay for the privilege, and then go on to leave constructive feedback, is it not at least good manners as well as good customer relations to acknowledge what a reader has done for us? I could be wrong, but I get the idea – don’t ask me where from – that authors, even the self-published variety, have this idea that because we are providing free or cheap books for people to read, it is the readers who should be grateful to us. That’s not the way I see it.

I understand that some ‘real’ authors don’t indulge in responding to reviews. Maybe they think that with their traditional publishing deals and their huge loyal fan-bases they don’t need to. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they don’t even look at their reviews – perhaps the arrogance exists that ordinary readers’ opinions of their work, as opposed to the opinions of industry critics, don’t really count for much. Then again, maybe I’ve got that wrong. What I do know is that it counts for me. It matters to me. It matters enough for me to at least say thank you. I even found something nice to say to the guy who didn’t like my book  (I offered to include some pictures, although the artwork would have to be my own and if my humour might come across sometimes as childish you should see my drawings – think stick men).

Fortunately, in addition to seeing this opportunity for interaction as simple common-sense I am also enjoying the experience. I have already had some thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening exchanges with readers – and by no means have all these exchanges been based upon gushingly positive critiques. I’ve learned things about how readers view aspects of my writing – mostly what they don’t like, what grates – and I can take that knowledge and understanding and use it to improve my writing – be a better writer.

Something else that I’ve learned lately – if you’re going to self-publish and you can’t afford a proof-reader, you’d better be bloody thorough about it yourself.

Hope or train?

 

Writers blog: stardate: 19.04.2013

Ten days ago Amazon price-matched my book Rope Enough – The First Romney and Marsh File – to zero. It is now a free book and I will keep it that way – forever. Despite this book having cost me a good chunk of time and effort to create – not to mention the blood, sweat , tears and hundred quid for the cover art – I cannot think of a better  means of constant, free and easy self-promotion. I cannot think of any other means of self-promotion that would see me – an unknown, newcomer to self-publishing – get my book in front of the people who I want to get it in front of – the people that matter: ebook readers.

In the ten days that it has been a free ebook it has had over eleven-thousand downloads through Amazon.co.uk. Yesterday, it was at number three in the Kindle free-download chart for all ebooks, and in the last twenty-four hours it was downloaded over one thousand, seven hundred times. That book is now on the reading devices and in the homes of eleven-thousand readers. How else could I possibly have achieved that?

A big chunk of the people who downloaded it won’t read it; I know that. But a good number probably will at some point. Maybe not this week or this month, but it’s on their device. In a year they might give it a go. They might like it and they might look for the second in the series and that’s where I realise I have inadvertently done myself and my self-publishing venture the best turn that I could – I already have the next two in the series available for download.

If I had just one book available and I gave it away for nothing I might get thousands of people download it. But what then? Those that read it and enjoyed it and wanted to find something else by me would soon be disappointed and move onto the next free book. I would. I do. By the time that I got around to writing and publishing the next book, I would have to start all over again. I would have missed my window of opportunity.

If I had one book available and I was asking money for it as an unknown, I doubt strongly that I’d see many downloads. And again, those that enjoyed the read would have nothing to go on to by me. See above.

I’m no expert in self-publishing, but I’ve learned some things about it. And if there is one bit of advice I would give anyone who is looking to make money from self-publishing it is this: my self-publishing formula for a modicum of success – or better.

  1. Write a series in a popular genre.
  2. Get professional cover art that clearly links the books in a series and identifies their places within in it.
  3. Make the first in the series free to download. Just swallow.
  4. Have at least one more title in the series available to download for those who enjoyed the first  – three is better. (Look around – commercially successful series are like buses.)
  5. Make the second in the series attractively cheap to purchase.
  6. Make the third in the series still cheap for a novel but up the price a little.

I can’t claim to have invented this formula and, like I said, it is simply good-fortune that I had already written three in a series before I got around to self-publishing. Others are doing it, have been doing it, or something like it, and doing well out of it, for some time.

Example: Alan McDermott has his Tom Gray trilogy out at the moment. I understand that it’s been out a while. The first in the series is a free download. It has been at number one on Amazon’s free download chart ever since I’ve been looking. If I can crawl up to number three with seventeen-hundred downloads in a day, how many does he shift in a day? and how many has he shifted in the months that he’s been self-published? A conservative estimate would be hundreds of thousands. It could be more. Book two in that series is in the top one hundred Kindle downloads for paid books. Book three is just outside the top one-hundred. Take it from me; he’s selling shed-loads and he is making some serious money. Best of luck to him.

Part 2

I have finished what I feel strongly will be my penultimate edit of Dirty Business – The First Acer Sansom Novel. I shall now email this new version to Amazon and it will be almost immediately pinged back to my Kindle reading device where I shall then give it the final proof-read. I’ve blogged before about how useful I find it to read through my books in a variety of formats: computer screen, hard-copy, Kindle. Each new reading experience brings with it a novelty factor that provides me the opportunity for a fresh perspective to spot errors. It’s what my circumstances have reduced me to. And I think that I’m getting better at it. In fact I’m feeling so confident about my abilities these days that I might even offer a reward for any typos spotted. Then again, maybe I won’t.

Yesterday, Kit Foster, the nice fellow who did the covers for the three R&M’s, sent me some ideas for Dirty Business and Loose Ends. I was very happy with elements of them and he is going to combine these into a couple of covers that I think will be effective, strongly suggestive and representative of the genre and story.

I’m still not sure about where to pitch the price on these two. The three R&M’s are priced on a sliding upwards scale – free, £1.53 and £2.05 (I wanted £1.49 and £1.99 but Amazon did something to the numbers that I still don’t understand.) The three R&M’s are all around the eighty-thousand word mark. The two Sansoms are one-hundred-thousand words each. Should that extra twenty-thousand words justify a higher price?

I’m drawn to list them at £1.99 each and it’s not because of the extra bulk. I still don’t think that that is expensive for a decent read, which I have to hope people will think of them. I do. I also think that I’ve established myself to a very small degree as a half-decent story-teller – reviews, comments and feedback lend weight to this notion – and perhaps, as it could be argued that I have let my first three novels go quite cheaply, even by ebook standards, those who have read them and enjoyed them won’t begrudge me looking to net just over a pound a book. I don’t think that looking to make one pound a book is greedy or likely to price me out of a potential sale. Time will tell on that. Of course, if people start writing to tell me how awful they find them and how robbed they feel, I might have to reduce the price a bit.

With the self-publication of the Sansom’s will come more work. All the information on my various author pages relates only to the R&M books. The images on my Facebook page and blog banner are R&M covers. I’ve also got to write a couple of elevator pitch style summaries for the forthcoming Amazon listings. I’m not complaining – I like all that stuff. It makes a change and I’m doing it for me.

Making A Killing

Actually, I’m not – making a killing that is, not in the money-coming-out-of-all-orifices kind of way, like some outrageously gaudy and crude Las Vegas naked-human-shaped novelty slot-machine jackpot. But on free downloads? Crikey, I looked this morning and a little bit of wee came out. And that’s not normal for a man of my age.

Look, before I get going on this second blog in two days, please, you have to bear in mind at all times that a long time ago (in blogging terms) this blog’s main purpose became far-and-away most importantly an online record of my journey from total and, some would say, deserved literary obscurity to… well I just want to leave a mark. DC Grimes in that little-known but superior British police procedural, Joint Enterprise, that should be on every mystery reader aficionado’s bookshelf put it best, “We’re all going to die. Most of us will leave no mark of our existence behind what-so-ever. Not a stain or a smudge or a smear on the face of history. I think that’s sad.” I agree with him, even if I can now see that the punctuation sucks. I’m not perfect.

I’m blogging for me, for nostalgia, for anyone who wants to know something of the process that I went through to self-publish – there are some things to learn from – and then how that pans out. With that understood, this post should be viewed as a follow up to yesterday’s: an update on the development discussed. I’m making it because it’s important to me and it might also provide some figures that other self-publishers might like to know. There doesn’t seem to be a wealth of information out there and when I was stumbling about cyber-space at the beginning, looking for anything helpful, I was pretty disappointed.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, approximately thirty-six hours ago Amazon price-matched Rope Enough, the first book in my series of British police procedurals. They price-matched it to zero making it a free download. I was happy – see previous post. In that thirty-six hours the book has been downloaded 394 times on Amazon.com and a staggering 1431 times on Amazon.co.uk. (I wrote ‘Fucking hell!’ after that but decided to delete it.)

The immediate upshot of that is that the book currently sits at #27 in the Kindle store Best Sellers chart for free books. It was at #22 earlier. To my limited way of thinking that has got to be a positive thing. OK, I’m not making a penny out of it, but I do have two other titles that could see a knock-on from this. And I feel great.

Yeah, I know, people are just downloading a freebie; 95% of them probably won’t even read it; just ‘cos it got downloaded, doesn’t mean that it’s any good. I’m quite capable of pissing on my own chips, thanks.

There has been no discernable knock-on for sales of the other two books, yet. I’ll have to wait and see what happens.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about two days – Saturday and Sunday – where I listed the second book in my three on the KDP Select programme for £0.00 to download. I managed 351 downloads through Amazon.co.uk there. I thought that was OK. So, perhaps, it makes a little more sense just how bowled over I am by getting four times that number in less than two days.

That’s all from me to me. Now, I really should get some work done.

The Loss-Leader Strategy.

Writer’s blog: stardate: 10.04.2013

WARNING: This blog contains some big numbers to crunch.

Part 1

It’s Wednesday. It’s eleven o’clock in the morning and it’s the holidays.

Normally, for reasons explained previously, I’ve come to be a Friday-morning-blogger. So why today? Well, as mentioned, I’m on holiday and so I’ve got some time to update my self-publishing diary aka my blog. And I have an interesting development for an entry.

I say it’s the holidays but I’m at work.  My current-future-ex-wife has started to complain about me loitering around the place. I’ve only been on holiday for two days. I told her I’m on holiday – I don’t have to go to work for the week. She said that the house smells different when I’m there during the day. She implied that this was not in a good way. She suggested that if I want to write, why don’t I go to work where it will be quiet? So, I’m at work in the holidays. I’m writing and I quite like it. It’s peaceful. I can pick up a good coffee on the way in. There is still free food in the staff canteen at lunch-time. I’m living the life of a real author for a week – the kind that don’t have to juggle jobs and writing (writing doesn’t seem like a job to me, but maybe that’s because I don’t need the money.) And I can smell how I like without people complaining.

I can’t complain about the way things are going for me as a self-publisher – especially when one factors in that I have done no self-promotion worthy of the label. Since my promotional weekend with Amazon’s KDP Select programme I have noticed a marked increase in sales of all three titles. I’m still not making enough money to re-roof the dog kennel but I’m encouraged.

In the first nine days of this month’s sales figures I sold ninety-two copies of Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File). That’s more than I sold in the whole of last month with the promotion. Factors of knock-on sales from said promotion and some good fortune with an Amazon sales algorithm – I doubt whether even God knows the mathematical equations involved in those – are likely reasons for this figure. The second and third books in the series are doing better than normal also. As usual I will share those figures at the end of the sales period.

Last evening I had settled down to watch Real Madrid thrash Galatasaray (good job I’m not a betting man) with one eye on the laptop when something in the Kindle download figures of my books caught my eye. It hadn’t been there an hour earlier. Kindle had made twenty-two price-match sales of Rope Enough ie given away twenty-two books for free. I checked on the Amazon.com site: thirty-four books price-matched. Initially, I was a bit peeved. Sales had been going well and I was netting 26p a download. But as I took the development on board, I became rather pleased.

I have seen it blogged by many successful self-published authors that giving away books as loss-leaders was a real boost to the spreading of the word, raising their online profile and, if they have other books available – especially in a series – good for knock-on sales.

Mindful of this, when I originally uploaded Rope Enough I tried and tried to get Amazon to list it as a free ebook – I have had it for download through Smashwords and their outlets for free since it was first published in December of last year. I notified Amazon of the availability of the book for free through B&N and Kobo et al (can you say et al for companies or is that reserved for people?) but they still wouldn’t adjust the price, so I had to plough on with it at 77p – the minimum that I could list it for.

I can only guess that now someone else, or the plural of someone else, has/have let Amazon know about a cheaper price and they have knocked it down to zero in line with their policy. I’m happy with that. It’s like having a full-time promotion going. I was only making 26p a download anyway, which is essentially nothing.

Rope Enough has finally become the loss-leader that I wanted it to be and I hope that it is going to attract attention and sales for the other two in the series. In fact I had trouble sleeping last night when I thought about this. Here’s the first reason why: in the first four hours of the change there were over two hundred downloads of the book on Amazon.co.uk and the same for Amazon.com.

Here’s the second reason why: when the book went live for free I, naturally, checked out the competition in the free category – Amazon’s top 100 chart. The book at the number one slot was called The One You Love by Paul Pilkington. I looked at his Amazon page for this book. He claims to have had over one-and-a-half-million downloads of this book since publication in July 2011. That is a shitload of downloads by anyone’s standards. And looking at the reviews a lot of people think that it’s shit (fitting). He has a sequel for sale. It’s a thirty thousand word novella (probably falling over himself to try to get something else published to capitalise on his fifteen minutes of fame before the freeloaders forgot who he was). It’s listed at £1.92. If he is on the 70% royalty scheme then he is netting @ £1.30 per download for that second title. If just ten percent of the people who downloaded his free book pay for the download of the second – and let’s face it, why wouldn’t they if they were happy with book one? – he is making a shitload of money (double-fitting). Good luck to him.

If Rope Enough can get one tenth of the downloads he got for his first book and then one tenth of those people go on to part with the meagre sum of £1.53 and £2.05 for the other two books in the series – both of which are better than the first (I would say that wouldn’t I?) then I might be able to give up my evening job at the petrol station – at least. Maybe even re-roof the dog kennel.

See why I’m in a fairly good mood today? That’s right – I’m a dreamer.

Part 2

This week, I’m really getting stuck into my two Sansom books. I’m editing like a battlefield surgeon in the Crimean War. I feel that there are a couple of half-decent stories in these books somewhere if I can tease them out. I’ve emailed the guy who did my book covers for the R&M trio and I’m waiting for his thoughts.

When these are done and out there I’m going to write the third in that series. It’s going to be focussed on Iran and their nuclear weapons programme. I have never been to Iran (I’m not likely to either) and I don’t know anything about plutonium enrichment, so, this is going to have to be a book that I need to do some research on before writing. That will be a novelty. I might even try planning the book beforehand for a change, just to see what that’s like. Another novelty.