Results of Free Offering

Back in June when I posted about freebies and whether you should or shouldn't offer your books for free, I mentioned my recent free offering of Maid for Love, book 1 in my McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, and promised to let you know how it did. 

To make Maid for Love free I changed the price to free on Apple and Kobo and then reported it to Amazon, which matched the low price a few days later. To get the book offered for free on B&N, I distributed it as a freebie via Smashwords. It took a couple of days to show up on the retail site. 

Prior to the free offering, the McCarthys were already my most popular books, selling strongly every month. After two and a half months of offering Maid for Love for free, they are even more popular. Maid for Love was the no. 1 free book for all of Kindle for more than a week in late June and remains today at no. 97 in the Kindle free top 100 and at no. 27 for free contemporary romance. All five of the other McCarthy books spent time in the overall Kindle Top 100 in June and July and all of them remain in the contemporary romance Top 100 today.

Here's a breakdown of the numbers. These numbers are for Amazon ONLY. More below on the results on the other platforms. To offer a benchmark of an average month before the free offering, the numbers for the series in May were:

Maid for Love: 2,018
Fool for Love: 1,464
Ready for Love: 1,137
Falling for Love: 1,403
Hoping for Love: 1,330

Maid for Love went on sale as a freebie around June 15 and remains free today. See the results below for AMAZON ONLY for June, July and August:

June 

Maid for Love Free: 178,361
Fool for Love: 15,303
Ready for Love: 8,941
Falling for Love: 7,818
Hoping for Love: 7,043
Season for Love (released June 5): 11,599

July

Maid for Love Free: 98,669
Fool for Love: 28,874
Ready for Love: 16,463
Falling for Love: 15,623
Hoping for Love: 14,945
Season for Love: 15,531

August

Maid for Love FREE: 54,840
Fool for Love: 12,176
Ready for Love: 9,312
Falling for Love: 9,227
Hoping for Love: 9,189
Season for Love: 9,434

Totals for June 15 – Aug. 31:

Maid for Love Free: 331,870
Fool for Love: 56,353
Ready for Love: 34,716
Falling for Love: 32,668
Hoping for Love: 31,117
Season for Love: 36,564

Total PAID SALES: 191,418

Observations:
Before I listed Maid for Love for free, I said I'd be happy with 10 percent of the total free downloads in paid sales, so I was extremely pleased with these results (to say the least!).

One of the more interesting aspects of this promotion was how quickly Season for Love, released on June 5, racked up almost 37,000 sales. To contrast, when book 5, Hoping for Love, was released in early March, it sold roughly 10,000 copies in its first two months.

I have debated whether to leave Maid for Love free going forward and have decided to make it a permanent freebie--for now anyway. I figure why not give readers a sample of my work for free and then they can decide if they want to read more.

The sales of my other books have grown as well. The rankings for my Fatal Series have been lower than ever since Maid for Love was free, and the sales of my Treading Water Series have been stronger than usual as have my single titles. I'm hearing from a LOT of readers who tell me they got Maid for Love for free and then went on to read all my other books. 

Clearly the fact that Maid for Love was book 1 in a series helped to fuel sales. Another interesting thing to keep in mind about freebies is that they can be the gift that keeps on giving for many months. When you figure how many free books are offered, readers download them in batches and then get to them over a period of weeks and months. 

As always with publishing, it goes back to the book. Sure, the first book is free, but readers have really connected with this series and that has helped to fuel sales. I'm looking forward to seeing how book 7, Longing for Love, does when it's released later this month.

Another interesting side effect of the freebie is the explosion in reader mail, Facebook and Twitter followers, subscribers to my mailing list and the members in the McCarthy Series Reader Group on Facebook, which has grown by more than 1,000 members in the last two months.

Other Platforms
BN: I didn't see any bump at all from the free offering. I don't think BN does much to promote freebies, and they don't make it easy for self-publishers to list their books for free. Robust sales is all about retailer promotion.

Kobo: Kobo makes it very easy for self-publishers to offer their books for free, but don't do much to promote them—yet. I expect this to get better as Writing Life takes hold. If you look on Kobo's free site for Romance, you find books like Romeo & Juliet, rather than current offerings. I know they're working on making that area more robust. I saw a small bump in sales since June, but nothing to write home about.

Apple: Very robust uptick in sales. Like Kobo, Apple makes it easy for self-publishers to offer our books for free, and like Amazon, Apple does a great job of promoting freebies. My sales have quadrupled on Apple during the promotional period.

Questions? Comments? Bring it on! Hope you find this information helpful. As always, I'm happy to answer any questions you may wish to ask offline at marie@marieforce.com.