A few weeks ago Amazon launched their Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. In brief, this allowed authors to make their titles available for free to Kindle Prime users, who could choose to ‘borrow’ one book a month at no charge. In return, said authors would be compensated for each borrow out of a general fund established by Amazon ($500,000 for December), and also be allowed to make their novel available to all consumers for free for five days.
At first I ignored this new program, despite it being aggressively marketed to all authors on their KDP page. I thought, nah, not worth looking into, plus there was a caveat that the novel had to be available only on Amazon, and nowhere else.
Christmas crept closer. Word was bandied about that over 2,000,000 kindles had been purchased as gifts. That’s a big number. That would mean a lot of people looking for books come Christmas day. I thought things over. I ruminated, and then finally thought: why not? After all, I had sold 1 copy of Throne by that point in December. Making it free for five days could hardly hurt sales.
So I set the promotion to run from the morning of the 23rd through to the night of the 27th. Mildly excited, I went to bed that Thursday night, curious to see how things might have changed in the morning.
When I awoke, the first thing I did was check my numbers. I sat up, blinked, and checked again. Cor blimey, I thought, over six hundred copies had been downloaded. And just that morning. I sat back, trying to understand. To extrapolate. At that rate, I could expect… what? A thousand downloads a day, maybe? Maybe five thousand by the time it was done? That was incredible!
I cheerfully checked back in that afternoon. 2,000. That gave me pause. I quickly revised my math. Could I perhaps expect 10,000?
Folks, the next few days went by in a blur. About a couple of thousand downloads happened on the 23rd and 24th. But then the 25th rolled around, and things went crazy. And stayed crazy on the 26th, and got even more insane on the 27th.
By the time the promotion had ended, over 27,000 copies of Throne had been downloaded. It was ranked as the #1 most downloaded free novel in the Contemporary Fantasy category, and was in a bunch of other impressive top 100 lists.
I didn’t know what to do with that number. What did it even mean? 27,000 people. That’s the size of a small town. Who were these they? How had they found my book? Why did they download it? Had they just downloaded my novel alone, or had they downloaded hundreds of free books at a go?
Most importantly: what would happen next?
So you can imagine how I felt when I woke up this morning. As has become habit, I checked my sales page. Throne had moved from the Free to the Paid categories, and dropped to #6,800. Which was still amazing. It meant that Throne, out of all the hundreds of thousands of novels available on Kindle, was ranked in the top ten thousand.
I went in to work. I was excited, but guardedly so–that ranking could simply reflect the diminishing momentum I had enjoyed while promoting my novel for free. It could jump to 10,000 by the time I got to work, and within a day, things could be back to normal. Instead, when I checked it again at the office, it had improved to #3,500.
I blinked. Checked the number of books purchased. It had gone up. Not by the hundreds or thousands that I had grown used to, but by about 30 books. That’s 30 purchases. At full price. A few hours later I checked again. #2,857. It was still going up. I was selling even more books.
I went out to dinner. I had skirt steak and greek salad. I laughed, joked around, and forced myself not to think about Throne. Not to think about the number of books that were being bought. At what it all meant. My girlfriend and I got home around 11:30pm, and I took another look: #890. Now it’s two hours later, and it’s ranked at #711.
People. This is madness. I can’t believe this is happening.
I’ve sold more books today than I have in the last five months combined.
I feel like I’ve stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. I can’t stop checking my rankings. Each time I expect things to have changed, to have started swinging in the other direction. I can’t believe that my novel is the seven hundred and eleventh best selling Kindle novel on all of Amazon. And that the ranking is only getting better.
I’ve spent minutes at a time tonight staring at nothing. Trying to wrap my brain around this. To understand that Throne has gone from being ranked in the hundreds of thousands to the three digits. That even as I type this, people are buying copies. Seeing the cover, reading the description, and clicking on the purchase button.
This doesn’t feel real. This is the kind of thing that happens to other authors, successful ones whose blogs I browse looking for clues as to how they did it. What they did right.
Yet here I am. As of 1:53am EST, Throne is still ranking at #711. Where it will be tomorrow is anybody’s guess. For I know this bubble could burst and I could drop like a lead balloon back to where I was before this all started.
Or I could sell copies like hotcakes for a second day straight.
I’ve no idea. But hot damn, this is about as thrilling as life gets. Wish me luck!