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March 03, 2021

What Happened When I Had a Free (Companion) eBook During My Blog Tour?


This is a follow-up post to my February post in which I talked about my new release marketing efforts, specifically blog tours. In this post, I am discussing what happened with my free (for a limited time) eBook.


FREE EBOOK DILEMMAS: Along with the release of A FIGHTING CHANCE, I also released THE DISASTER CURSE, a short story that follows A Fighting Chance.

Planning out how to release that eBook was tricky, because I wanted it go be free during the blog tour. Except, you can't mark a pre-order as free and I had set up my blog tour to start on the exact release day for AFC. I also didn't want to publish TDC on release day because it would take time for it to show up on all the retailers' sites. I needed to be sure that it would be available online AND that it'd be free in time, so I set it up as a pre-order and had it published 6 days before AFC.

SIDE NOTE: I didn't want to have it published BEFORE AFC since it follows AFC, but I couldn't come up with another strategy. To (hopefully) remedy that, I didn't promote it at all. Of course, that didn't stop Amazon from emailing those who follow my Amazon page about it when it released. Thanks, Amazon! Usually, I appreciate those emails, but not when I'm trying to keep something on the DL.

I quickly changed the price to free on Smashwords so the price would change at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. That same day, all the retailers updated the price to free. I then contact Amazon. And wouldn't you know it? They price matched the very next day. So much for 6 days in advance.


KDP ANNOYANCE: However, on day 2 of my blog tour, Amazon had reverted the price of THE DISASTER CURSE back to 99 cents on its US marketplace (it was still free on the UK, CA, etc. marketplaces). Big problem considering my blog tour was promoting it as being free. I quickly contacted KDP. Luckily, they put it back to free within hours. To be sure, though, I checked it every morning and every night for the full three weeks. 😓


Lesson #1: Don't trust Amazon/KDP.  hahaha

Lesson #2: If I plan to have something free to promote during a blog tour, set the blog tour to begin a few days AFTER release day so I have time to change the price to free.

 

PRO:

- More downloads and exposure for this free eBook (it rose to the top 50 for a couple Amazon category lists) during my blog tour than if I'd published it at another time and announced it to my followers/readers. This could've lead to readers purchasing A FIGHTING CHANCE to go with it. Or it could lead readers to pick it up later, or start the series at the beginning. (That's kind of three or four pros in one.)

CON:

- Potential one-star reviews/ratings from people who one-clicked THE DISASTER CURSE because it was free, not realizing or bothering to look to see that it's a short story (despite the multiple places where I state as such) or that it is at the end of a series. I can't help that, though.

OVERALL:

It is a smart strategy to release a free companion short story at the same time as your new book. I'm not sure if I'll ever do this again, but I don't regret it.


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54 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's always Amazon, isn't it? That probably works best with a PRE short story. Of course, then those who don't get the pre book miss some of the story. No way to completely win on that one.

Jacqui Murray said...

That is way too complicated for me, Chrys. Go girl! I'm impressed you can juggle so well.

Sherry Ellis said...

I guess it was a good learning experience. Amazon can be a challenge!

Patricia said...

Amazon kept changing one of my free books to 99cents and they never price matched to free in other stores. I contacted them once about it and asked them to price match the UK store to the US store and apparently that baffled them because their reply made no sense.

Jemi Fraser said...

I had to call KDP about a price switch on my permafree when it switched a couple of days before a paid newsletter spot. They were really quick about fixing it for me too :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry Amazon tried to mess it up for you but glad it worked out in the end.

Jeff said...

Wow, that's complicated! I am glad you were able to work it out and hopefully it will help increase your exposure as an author.

https://fromarockyhillside.com

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for your tips. I'm really learning a lot from them since I've never been published before.

cleemckenzie said...

Amazon KDP are a tricky lot, for sure. You've put in a lot of work to make the launch successful. Who knew writers would have to be in charge of absolutely everything?

Carrie-Anne said...

I've also heard many people saying free books are more likely to get 1-star reviews, and recommending one wait until one is an established entity before offering free books. So far, I've avoided making anything free for those reasons.

nashvillecats2 said...

I sold my books on Amazon, quite an experience.
Hope all is well.
Yvonne.

M.J. Fifield said...

You can't go wrong with Lesson #1. :)

Always interesting to hear about your experiences and results. Thanks for sharing them!

Chrys Fey said...

That's interesting. A free ebook can establish an author and help readers discover them. One-star reviews will happen simply because it's free and people don't read anything about the story before they one-click. Even "established" authors will get one-stars, especially on their free ebooks. It happens. It's common. If I waited until I was "an established entity," I technically never should've had free eBooks. Even now.

Chrys Fey said...

Amazon kept doing that with one of my mom's eBooks (monthly, it seemed), so I ended up taking the eBook for that one down off Amazon so I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. It's only available in eBook format with other sellers now.

When I need the other marketplaces price matched, I have to use these words: "Please price match to $0.00 on all the marketplaces." Then they do it.

Chrys Fey said...

I've never called. I use their email option. https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/contact-us I don't like having to explain things over the phone. lol

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Great info. I've been using my newsletter to give away free stories, but obviously though that rewards my loyal readers, it doesn't earn me any stars.

Chrys Fey said...

I have one free story that's exclusive only to my newsletter subscribers. Sometimes, it's worth doing it that way. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

It sounds like a great strategy, although I've had a struggle keeping my "free" books free on Amazon, too. I love having short story additions to novels in a series, so I'm always happy with those. :)
Thanks for revealing your strategy and how it went. :)

Chemist Ken said...

I've always wondered what it was like to set up simultaneous marketing events when selling books. Sounds like way too many things can go wrong. I'm glad you eventually got through it. Good luck with the book.

emaginette said...

Thanks for the info I'm glad you had some success with it. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Lee Lowery said...

What a circus! Thanks for sharing. You would not think it would be that difficult to price a book for free. Glad it worked out in the end, but good grief, what a lot of wasted time and energy went into it.

Fundy Blue said...

Yikes! Thanks for sharing your experiences today. I'm not sure that I'd want to put myself through that ~ but I don't have to yet ~ LOL! Have a fun IWSG Day, Chrys!

Loni Townsend said...

Dang, sounds like a pain. At least you managed to get most of the details working!

Liz A. said...

I find that when I pick up a free book, if I enjoy it and there are sequels, I will buy the sequels. If I don't like the book I won't.

Sounds like it was a pain. These things rarely go smoothly, do they?

Sarah Foster said...

That sounds super complicated and frustrating! Glad you don't regret doing it, though.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

You are so knowledgeable about releasing, price schedules, and indie pubbing as a whole. I might need to pick your brain at some point soon. :) Thanks of all you do!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - well done and so pleased you worked through your process with us ... I can see the pros and the cons ... but I admire your perseverance ... all the best - Hilary

Diane Burton said...

Just when you figure out a great promo, somebody throws a monkey wrench in the works. Ah. I did enjoy both stories. So glad Thorne got his love.

H.R. Sinclair said...

That's a pretty good plan (IMO), but the stress of getting the book free on Amazon is not so awesome. I've heard that sometimes they just ignore your pleas to mark it as free too.

Chrys Fey said...

It works really well with a follow-up story, because there's a bigger chance than readers who are getting the new release will automatically want the free (or cheap) story that comes after it (which they can read as soon as they finish the new release), rather than have to go back and read something that comes before it.

Chrys Fey said...

It's funny that everyone said it sounds "too complicated." The only true tricky part was figuring out when to release it to make sure it was free for my blog tour, which...I just shared how to best do that. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Amazon...SMH.

Chrys Fey said...

It did work out. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Not that complicated. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome!

Chrys Fey said...

We didn't know. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Yvonne! I hope all is well with you, too!

Chrys Fey said...

It's something we all eventually learn, isn't it? lol

Chrys Fey said...

Amazon really doesn't like to keep eBooks free. Lightning Crimes is free and has been that way for years, but I suspect it's because it was marked as free years ago (2016). Nowadays, they never keep them free for long. it's infuriating!

Chrys Fey said...

Things will only go wrong by third parties if you do your part. That's why it's important to plan, plan, plan, double-check, triple-check, and...check-in.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome!

Chrys Fey said...

No, I would not think it'd be that difficult. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Well, that's why I shared my experience, so you can learn from my mistakes and have a much smoother experience and be better prepared.

Chrys Fey said...

It did work out in the end. Not so bad. Just an annoyance.

Chrys Fey said...

That makes perfect sense.

Chrys Fey said...

Not that complicated. lol I just hadn't planned as well as I thought I did. But, yes, dealing with KDP is always frustrating.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm no expert, but I could definitely do my best to answer any questions or offer advice. <3

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Hilary!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you so much! I wrote it and I am still pleased that Thorn got his love. <3

Chrys Fey said...

It is a good plan. I would do it again, just not sure if the opportunity would arise. And now that I know how to better plan and what to watch out for (KDP), it'll be less stressful the second time.

J Lenni Dorner said...

(My Internet just crashed and deleted my very long Amazon rant.)
(I can't help but question as to if that was an actual glitch or if I have offended the Masters...)

Glad you hit top 50 on a list.

I'm getting ready for the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And hoping to honor the wonderful women in my life on March 8 for International Women's Day.

J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

Chrys Fey said...

That sounds like something Amazon would do. Haha Thanks for commenting!

Alice said...

Getting reviews is very difficult for an Indie author. https://usbookreviews.com/ is an affordable service to get high-quality reviews and gain visibility for your book.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

There is always some headache, right? I keep dreaming of marketing fairies who will come and do all that BS for me. Hasn't happened.