Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Effects of a FREE Ebook on Paid Sales

The Faerie Guardian was free for one month,
and in that time there were

Amazon - 48,938

B&N and iBooks - 16,989

I was hoping to reach 50,000 downloads in a month, so a total of 
almost 66,000 is freaking AWESOME!
The highest it was ranked was #7 overall in the Free Kindle US Store.

Here are some more details from Amazon:

Free downloads of The Faerie Guardian. Click to enlarge.

Paid sales during the period The Faerie Guardian was free.

The Effect on Paid Sales

I had obviously hoped that sales of Creepy Hollow #2 and #3 would go up after making #1 free, and they most certainly did (more so than I expected). I don't sell many of my contemporary romance books, so most of the sales on that second graph are of Creepy Hollow books. It's still quite soon after the promo, so sales are still high. I'm expecting them to dip down a bit over the next few weeks and average out at a daily number that's slightly higher than before the free promo.

The Effect on Reviews

The main reason it took me so long to do a major free promo is because I've heard a lot about how free books receive more negative reviews. This is because a lot of readers will download a book simply because it's free, and not because it's something they really want to read. They then end up reading books that aren't really their thing, and then rate them negatively.

Fortunately, I haven't seen this happening yet! Before TFG went free, it had 121 reviews on Amazon (and it took about 21 months to get those reviews, so an average of 5 to 6 reviews per month). TFG is now sitting on 170 reviews, and those last 49 reviews all appeared in the space of one month. Here's the breakdown of those 49 new reviews:

5* ~ 35
4* ~ 10
3* ~ 3
2* ~ 1
1* ~ 0


  • BookBub is worth every cent!
  • Making the first book in a series free definitely leads to sales of the rest of the series.
  • The royalties I lost on book #1 by making it free were MOOOOORE than made up in increased sales of books #2 and #3.
  • Periodically making a book free may be better than making a book permanently free. (There is a big boost of downloads and sales after a book first goes free, and thereafter downloads decline.)


SA Larsenッ said...

Great info, Rachel! Thanks for sharing your experience with it. I'll share away...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's awesome, Rachel! My publisher used BookBub to promote one of my books at .99 and it made a big difference.

Juliana Haygert said...

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

I haven't done a free promo with any of my books yet, but I plan to do it with book #1 once the final book of my trilogy is out.

Cherie Reich said...

Awesome results, Rachel! I do think there is something to going free here and there instead of doing permafree.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you got such good results. And learned a lot from what you shared. Thanks.

PK Hrezo said...

A huge success!! This defintely seems the way to go. So tricky getting the BookBub ads tho. :S
Thanks for the great info!

Raquel Byrnes said...

That is awesome to see the stats. Usually its a lot of guesswork as far as marketing goes. Thank you so much for sharing!
Edge of Your Seat Stories

Sue Holmes said...

Well done! :)

Cathy Keaton said...

That's so great, Rachel! You can experiment with raising it again and seeing how sales go, then making it free again. You could make it free for an extended time to see how that goes.

I, personally, think, from observation, that whether a book does well from being free, or doesn't, is due to the audience you wrote it for. It's all about whether or not they want to read free ebooks, or just think free ebooks are a sign of crappy quality.

Your readers, the YA crowd, always love free ebooks and rarely feel that free = crap. So, this could do well to stay perma-free, even.

Stephen Tremp said...

Congrats! on the numbers! well done. I was just turned down by BookBub. No worries though. I'll try again and raise the price from $0.99 to $2.99. It's more money to raise the price, but I've been following BookBub and they seem to opt for hight priced books. Because they charge more. Lesson learned. I'll try $2.99 next time.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Congratulations Rachel! That's an incredible number and I'm glad it helped with books 2 and 3. I really like you shared the graph with us. It's interesting to see how free effects it.