Okay, so it wasn’t as if I hadn’t planned for it. First, I ordered a new cover. I liked the old one, but it didn’t quite have the edge I wanted. I wanted to remind readers it was an epic fantasy – the romance was just part of the story. An integral part, but only a part nonetheless.
I made Song of the Fairy Queen free and signed up with Pixel of Ink and Ereader News Today a month in advance. (Just FYI, both require a minimum number of good reviews and at least that much advance warning to appear in their free listings.)
So, I was ready. The best numbers I’d ever posted before that were about about 18,000 free downloads (on a different book) with the help of ENT, which was great, but there was no after-free rebound. The sales numbers were better, the rankings improved, but that was about it. Still, it was good, there was nothing to complain about.
I’d also made a tiny error when I’d set it up for ENT, giving it the wrong dates, carrying it over to the following Monday, rather than stopping on Sunday. So I made a quick adjustment and added another free day.
So, knowing I had everything set up for Song, I took a break from promotion. I concentrated on getting the print version out, on doing some clean-up editing on other books, and then there’s that horror story I keep playing with.
I had planned it for my birthday, a present for my readers. So I did a little promotion, and hit the trifecta, as it were. Both POI and ENT picked up my book…and watched the numbers climb. Then I started getting a little dizzy… Song was heading for WOW factor territory, almost twice the numbers of my previous high. I was giddy. By the next morning it was number one in it’s category of free epic fantasy. And it stayed there. I was boggled. I also picked up two very nice reviews. To my astonishment, it also reached #5 overall.
The question was, what did I do once the free days were over? Could I keep the momentum going without annoying people? I hoped I could – with judicious timing. So I posted about the lovely reviews, and used snippets from them on other sites. I didn’t run from one page to another, just two or three at a time, trying to pick the right time for the international sites, and the best times for the US sites.
The day after the free days, the numbers sank off the charts, but I’d been more prepared for that than for what happened about two days later. Going into the book page to find a good quote, I just stared. That couldn’t be right… So I clicked the link for epic fantasy and thought, Sure enough, it’s a glitch. Then I realized I was looking at the wrong column… I needed to be looking under PAID. Then I sat there and stared. Song had broken the top 100 list of Epic Fantasy. (HAPPY DANCE) At it’s height, Song rose to #34. I used that as part of my promotion, posted it on my book page, and later on my personal page. I posted snippets of the reviews here and there. So far Song of the Fairy Queen has been in the top 100 for around two weeks, although she’s dropped a bit. I’ll do a little more judicious promoting.
I’d also add that I’m not a one-book wonder – I have over 21 books out at this time, and more are coming. I also tried to create the best book I could, by doing things like commissioning that wonderful new cover. Most of my reviews either come unsolicited from readers or from reviewers I asked to do a review, not because I begged for them. *grins* Well, most of the time.
So, what works?
To judge by my reviews, a good book.
I’m also not a one-hit wonder. When readers invest time to read my books, they know that if they like it, there’s more where that came from. They’re not left hanging waiting for a possible next book that may never come.
Judicious promotion. Studies show that relentless spamming turns people off – after all, the book should speak for itself. Choose good times to promote, and use those times wisely. When I do promote I’ve tried to emphasize the best parts of the book using quotes from reviews and other sources.
Create a book page, an author page, a web page. Readers have to be able to find you.
Build a reputation – preferably a good one. Put yourself out there, be authentic and approachable. Readers know who I am, I don’t hide, and I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am.
And… keep writing.