First, does advertising help? If so, how much and what kind? When WRS first went free (the three days mentioned earlier), a reputable marketing outfit “blasted” the free days to its 400,000 twitter followers plus its email newsletter subscribers. The effort yielded about 300 disheartening downloads. I wanted to know if I could do better.
Second, a propos of the following remarks, could readers not be interested or even be turned off by the multicultural element in WRS, which has an interracial love story woven into an international mystery?
I have several friends who are avid romance readers like I am. Through our discussions, I realized several of my friends would not read multicultural romances because, in their paraphrased words, they couldn’t identify with the lead characters, specifically the heroine.—Heroes and Heartbreakers
Here’s the crux: As Alyssa Cole notes in the September, 2013, RT Book Reviews, mainstream romance novels featuring non-Caucasian characters generally do not sell well. Editors from larger publishing houses, thus, do not acquire them as often.—The Toast
While romance novels geared toward African-American women have several dedicated imprints, other demographics aren’t quite as well-represented in standalone lines.—Publishers Weekly
I advertised both sets of free days on essentially the same websites although I did place Book 3 on a couple more sites than HML. I wanted to give it a little more boost since it has only recently been published (May 1 on kindle). HML has had one round of free days several months ago on its first kdp run during which, boosted by an advertising campaign, 2,800 units were downloaded.
These numbers were good enough for HML to place #13 on two top 100 lists for free books: Women’s Fiction-Romance and Contemporary Women’s Fiction. WRS benefited some from the extra boost. To my surprise, for several hours, it was #1 among free books in two categories: Romance-Multiracial and International Mystery and Crime (both probably much smaller categories than Contemporary Romance). It also did so much better than the first set of three free days ran by the marketing outfit, with nearly seven times more downloads.
What I learned:
• The advertising I sought did help. My efforts resulted in 2039 WRS downloads (vs. 300 from the marketing company). I paid anywhere from $5 to $30 so that book sites would give priority to my free listing. If I didn’t pay, my listing on these sites may not be guaranteed or not be given a prominent spot.
• As most authors have found, the first free day has the most downloads. This is true for both books. On the second day, the numbers tapered off to a third of the first day. Only HML went on a third free day and the number of free downloads for that day was less than half the second day.
• Tweeting didn’t help either book much. On the third free day for HML, I paid a book tweeting service with more than 300,000 followers to tweet about it nineteen times that day. Downloads would have been 180 without those tweets (based on a statistical linear “curve”). If the tweets made a difference, it convinced only 22 of the 300K twitterers. That’s not the only time tweeting proved of little or no use. The outfit that managed the first three free days for WRS seems to have relied mostly on blasting the free days to its nearly half a million twitter followers and its email newsletter subscribers.
• Nothing new—finding a smaller Amazon category helps to place a book among top sellers.
One thing I can’t gather from this experience: Which sites helped the most? I announced the free days on Facebook and Goodreads groups, and advertised on as many as I could at book sites on this list. I had trouble getting into pixxelofink.com; ereadernewstoday.com neither responded nor acknowledged my submission; and bookbub.com rejected it. A few sites were not exclusively for books and I didn’t submit to those.
Have the kdp free days I ran led to more sales? Not much. Over a span of two weeks after the respective free days, HML sold 8 copies, WRS, 2. During that time, my sequel to a historical novel with an avid following sold 12 copies. I haven’t promoted this book in at least two years.
I think there is some truth to the bias against multiracial fiction despite the good showing of WRS. But, it’s not necessarily a universal one. Here’s one place where I think it may be a factor: In Germany, total free downloads for HML is 116, for WRS, 4. Free download is no cost and no risk. It’s apparently an inducement for HML, but not WRS.
And, regardless of the small numbers, I wonder if selling 8 HML copies vs. 2 WRS copies after the free days means something.
Take this information for whatever it’s worth to you. Many factors could affect these results—genre, book cover, even time or year, your author “celebrity” status, etc. I am a writer followed only by a few and my main goal right now is to gain visibility and find my tiny corner in the vast world of books and bookworms. I am in this for the infinite game.