Friday, October 30, 2015

To cut my nose off to spite my face, or no? Free book indecision.

Catchy title, is it not? It is. Oh, it is. And it can be explained in one anxiety-riddled blog post.

I've battled a demon for these last few months. The demon is a tricky one, since it has been the driving force behind my good fortune when it comes to this publishing/book sales game I've played these last few years.

Yup. It's the demon of indecision, the demon of whether or not to take Model Agent, the first book in the Jaclyn Johnson code name Snapshot/Agent series, off perma-free status and make it a paid book on Kindle and iBooks again.

Through September, readers have downloaded Model Agent in excess of 103,000 times for free, with a little less than 900 paid copies through Nook and Kobo. On iBooks, MA is still good for well over a hundred downloads a month. On Kindle, not too many. For instance, in September, MA saw 158 free downloads on Apple; in August, 197, in July, 187. Last month on Kindle, there were 79 free downloads; this month, 28. The sell-through over the last few months has not been spectacular; in September, I sold a grand total of 52 books; 26 were through Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, with another 26 through Apple. This month, I'm at 19 before the Apple numbers come through, and I'll get this month's Apple numbers in the middle of next month. I told you: not exactly great.

See my dilemma?

The theory of making a book free, especially in a series, is to sell-through the remainder of the series, and use the first book as a loss leader. The sell-through, from Model to Rogue to Double and so forth, has been decent through Double: as I've explained, I bought ENT sponsorships for the first three, and that is part in parcel of the series' draw. As I've reported, I was unable to get one for Federal Agent, which recently eclipsed the 700-copy mark; that book has been out for three years. The most recent two books, Literary (JJ5) and Travel's (JJ6) numbers aren't exceptional, and sales are down across the board. I don't know if people didn't like the first three or just don't know if there are more books since I didn't get an ad for Federal. If I'm being honest, the writing in these latter books is better than the writing in Model. Some people are buying and downloading them, yes, but are doing so in small quantities instead of the rate of purchase from a few years ago.

So what to do? It's a question that doesn't have an easy answer: If I take MA off perma-free, what will happen to my Apple sales? What will happen to my Kindle sales? They are low as it is, and if the perma-free is driving what I have for sales as it is, well... I don't want to think of what my sales would be without Model Agent being free. And if I'm being honest, I don't have another series at the moment with a first book to use as a new loss leader.

This may require a little more thought... maybe until the holiday season passes.