Saturday, July 7, 2012

America the Free (Books)

To be blunt, this is a brief post about how my novel in ebook form went from oblivion to #1 in the Amazon Bestseller List for Top Free Literary Fiction  and #21 in the Top Free 100 eBooks. (Mostly told in pictures.)

Three days ago, I sat in my comfy-chair, looking forward to dinner and fireworks at Mema's house with the family. I was also thinking about my first novel, Song of the Orange Moons, which was published by an Austin press of great little books, and then disappeared into oblivion as the press unexpectedly closed shop.

There are still hard bound copies floating around on Amazon. But the $4.99 ebook, which I published (with ASD Publishing) shortly after on Amazon, in an attempt to keep the book-child breathing, sat deathly still on the digital shelf.

It was the 4th of July. We were celebrating our freedom. I decided to make my book Free for a few days--set it free and see what would happen. After doing some research and seeing how it's done, I went to KDP Select, placed the book in Free Promo status for three days, then went to Mema's for fireworks. The sale began at midnight, and this is what happened:

 The novel climbed the Free charts, and by the time I went to bed, I think the book was #24 in Literary Fiction. When I woke up, I received this snapshot text from my friend:

Song (with the greenish-brown cover) is at #3

Song at #2
At this point I am utterly boggled. What does this mean, I ask myself over and over. A few hours later, it's at #2, and holds this way throughout the day. In the meantime, it's climbing the charts for the Top 100 Free Kindle books:
#54 in Kindle Store

As I'm cooking dinner, I get a text from my brother with this image:
Song at #1
It held at this rank throughout the evening, and as I'm writing this post at 7:30 in the AM, the book is at #1 in Literary Fiction Top 100 Free and #21 in the Top 100 Kindle Store.

I don't really know what this means in the longer run (as in tomorrow, the next day, and the next). It's only a Bestseller on the Free List, so I fully appreciate the oxymoronic nature of the term.

What I do know is this: 
I have incredible friends who spread the word on Facebook and Twitter,  encouraging friends to download the book. I've been gobsmacked (my favorite word) by their encouragement. Because of them, more people know about this novel, and perhaps some will like it enough to recommend it to friends.

What I suspect is this:
That the economy has created a country of new consumers who hesitate to spring $5 on a book that they're not entirely certain (because it doesn't have a movie trailer yet) is a worthy read. I understand this phenomenon personally: these days, I only read books that are either on the NYT bestseller list or recommended to me by a friend or trusted website.
We shop at Half-Price Books, one local bookstore, and Amazon, and if the book is FREE with great reviews, so much the better.

What I think happened to push the book up the Amazon rankings list: 
I've been forwarded images of websites that have announced my book's listing on Kindle as free, here, here, and here. (At one of these sites, my book was mistakenly labeled as Religious/Literary. Although the girls in the novel must navigate their religions, the book does not promote any certain religion; I suppose it promotes love. Apologies to those who unwittingly downloaded a literary novel.) These sites have huge followings. Thanks to sites like these, thousands of people actually knew that my book was temporarily free and had the handy link.

Today is the last day of the Free Promotion, so please share the link with friends and family. (It's also available in the UK. #14 in Literary Fiction as of today.)

What I hope will happen:
For a few days, the book will stay in the Top 100, and perhaps, because of its visibility and the reviews, people will download it for $4.99. Of course I hope it sells some copies, after flying free in almost 9,000 downloads.
But I can say with absolute honesty that publishing the book was never about money. It's literary fiction, not pulp fiction. It's a serious book, and I'm encouraged that people are willing to give such reading a chance these days.


  1. Thanks for sharing the story with us, Lori. An inspiration for other authors to not give up when we think our books have lost readers forever.

    1. Thank you for helping spread the news. You are amazing.