It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I've been hip-deep in election coverage in my regular job, and I've been writing and editing fiction quite a bit as well.
The big non-writing news in my household is that my oldest daughter (who just turned 21) is now engaged. She and the young man have been friends since their early teen years, and have been officially dating for five years. He asked me for permission and the whole nine yards, and overall we're all really happy. I wish they would wait until my daughter is finished with school – she'll have another year left at the time – but otherwise I think they're going to do just fine. They have tentatively set a September wedding date.
And now for the writing news.
Well, actually, I don't have much. A few things in the works, but nothing to announce just yet. I know a few of you have been curious about how my Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series went, so I’ll address that today.
A brief recap – starting on Sept. 2, and every Sunday afterward until Oct. 28, I released a horror short story at Amazon.com. I went into the plan viewing it as an experiment, and overall I'm pleased.
I had a decent amount of sales in September, but they really picked up in October, when about three-quarters of the sales took place. Of course, that's what you would expect for a couple of reasons – first, it's October, when people really start to think Halloween and horror; and second, with each passing week another story was added, giving more variety of available titles.
Most of all, though, I believe joining Amazon's Select program helped with the short stories. For those of you who don't know about that program, it's one in which you agree to list your story on Amazon exclusively for 90 days – that means no Kobo, no Smashwords, no Nook – only on Amazon. In exchange for that exclusivity you get two things. First, Amazon Prime members can borrow your work for free (they have a limited number of monthly borrows they can use as Prime members). You get royalties for each borrow, and since my Halloween Horror shorts were only priced at 99 cents, I actually earned more from a borrow than from a sell.
Second, you can have up to five days to give away your book/story for free during the 90-day agreement period. The idea behind a give-away is twofold. First, if you story gets high enough on the Amazon ranking system, hopefully it attracts more attention even after your free give-away is done. And second, the idea is that a lot of folks will download your story, like it so much they seek out – and buy – additional work you have.
Does any of that really work? Some writers will tell you it's been a major factor in some big-time success, while others will say it's a pointless exercise. For me, it definitely bumped up sales.
I did a two-day give-away for my story The Dark Secret of Warren House. I like Warren House, but going into the Nine Weeks campaign if you had asked me which one of the stories I like best, I would have said first would be A Mother’s Love, second would be The Journal, and third was probably Patron Saint. The Dark Secret of Warren House would have been next.
Readers definitely took more of a liking to Warren House. Before I did the free give-away promotion, it was already the best seller of my Nine Weeks stories, and during the give-away it shot all the way to No. 2 on the Amazon horror list, passing work by a few well-known authors that were on free give-away promotions that weekend. It even got some downloads in the UK and Germany.
Curiously, I didn’t see a single sale of any of my works that weekend, nor did I sell anything the day after the promotion ended. At this point I was wondering if the freebie idea had killed my sales rather than helped.
Then sales picked up again, in a pretty big way. I’m not giving raw numbers here, but over the following four days more than a third of the total Nine Weeks sales took place, with Warren House leading the way. Even as October ended and we drifted into November, I continue to pick up a few sales of Warren House – that single work accounted for nearly half of all my Nine Weeks sales.
We’re well into November now, and sales for horror have slowed to a crawl. I still have a few plans for my Nine Weeks stories, but the Nine Weeks experiment is largely over, and as I said earlier, I’m pleased, both with the overall numbers as well as my first foray into experimenting with free promotions as a way to drive traffic to my work. At least in my limited experience, it definitely works.
John Peters is the author of the paranormal romantic suspense novel Claiming Moon, as well as the Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series of short stories, which can be found here.