Death’s Angels Finally Free In The UK

As of Tuesday evening Death’s Angels, my dark fantasy tale of mercenary soldiers in a world haunted by ancient demon gods, is free on Amazon UK as well as iTunes UK. That means you can now download the book for free most anywhere I can manage it, should you feel so inclined.

Why have I done this? Glad you asked.

It all started with my post about the general disappointment in the indie community caused by Amazon’s tinkering with its algorithms for free promotions using the Select program. The net result of this has been that books no longer get the huge sales spikes coming off free promotions that they used to.

My argument was that this was probably never Amazon’s intention. People had lost sight of the basic purpose which is simply to put your work into the hands of otherwise uncommitted readers. A freebie takes away any financial risk from this and (theoretically, at least) encourages people to give your book and its sequels a try. 

This got me thinking about the potential long term benefits of simply making the first book in a series free. As I’ve pointed out before the Terrarch series is quite exotic; a gunpowder military fantasy with elements of old fashioned sword and sorcery, so it’s chances of getting an audience under the old system of publishing were never high. It’s how I came to end up indie publishing it in the first place. 

I am really pleased with the results I have had so far and now I am hoping to try and take things still further. One of the best things about indie publishing is being able to experiment until you find something that works. By making book one in the series free, I am basically gambling the 35 cents/ 25 pence I make per sale on Death’s Angels against the (potentially) increased readership for the later books. 

Long term readers of this blog will know I have always been a big proponent of the low cost loss-leader for series. The 99 cent/ 77p introductory offer on Death’s Angels has served me very well. Worldwide I have sold roughly 5000 Death’s Angels with something like 7320 follow-on sales for the rest of the series. I am starting to reckon the appeal of the 99 cent loss leader is more or less over in this era of free ebooks. Indeed there is evidence to suggest that Amazon has started actively discriminating against lower priced e-books so I could be shooting myself in the foot by continuing to do this.

Another reason for trying the free promotion is that my readership has mostly been in the UK. For whatever reason I’ve always sold far less of the Terrarch books in the US and nothing much was changing there. A lot of people have reported doing very well out of making the first book in a series free in the US. I figure I might as well try this and see if it could get a few more readers on Amazon.com.

Anyway, the basic deal is I will let Death’s Angels roam free for a month and see how things go. If sales for the series go up or even stay the same I will let the promotion run for another month, if not I will return Death’s Angels to paid, mostly likely at a higher price point so I can test that!

For those of you interested in the technicalities of doing this, the process is quite simple. You simply upload the book to Smashwords, set the price to free and distribute it from there to Barnes & Noble and iTunes. All you need to do then is wait for Amazon’s price matching robots to pick it up and drop the price on Amazon. Sometimes there is a lag in this happening which is why Death’s Angels was free for a few days in the US but not in the UK. 

As ever, I will report back on my findings on this blog at some future point when I remember to do so. 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for solving a real mystery, Bill. I couldn’t figure out how some books on Amazon could be free for ages when the KDP Select program only gives 5 free days per month. The price match promotion explains it now – I feel really dumb for having not figured it out myself before!

    I agree with you about when free is and isn’t useful. I tried free with a few books for a while and didn’t see much benefit from it. I agree that it only works when an author has a series to promote and then it’s useful to get people interested in a franchise.

    With my next book I’m not going to sign it up for KDP Select because of the 3 month holdback to launching through other platforms. I remember asking you about 6 months ago about your split between Amazon/Smashwords and you told me it was around 85/15. I was pleasantly surprised to find a much more even split for my expensive non-fiction title. It must be standing around 60/40. The vast majority of the Smashwords sales are coming from Amazon. My demo is very much iPad users though and so this is probably the reason.

    • Interesting to hear about your sales split between Amazon and Smashwords. This is closer to what many people report on their sales. The world seems to be split between those of us who don’t sell so well on non-Amazon platforms and those of us who do! That said, since I came off Select, I have noticed a reasonable uptick in sales on other platforms. Nothing like what I get on Amazon but better than I was doing.

      On the subject of Select, a lot of people are reporting the shine has really gone of it. There are plausible arguments to be made that Amazon is changing its strategy due to the ending of agency pricing. This is the best one I have seen from someone who is a very careful student of Amazon and its algorithms.

      http://phoenixsullivan.blogspot.com/2012/05/price-bias-new-wrinkle-in-amazons-ever.html

  2. Michael Mooney says:

    Good luck with the strategy – I’m retweeting this, and will do what I can to get the word out…

  3. Good luck, we’ll also repost the news!

  4. MacKnight says:

    This is not related to the stories here, but its related to your other author side, the one from Warhammer 40k 🙂
    I wonder simply, will we see new Space Wolves books from you?
    Last Space Wolves book that went out was the Second ombinus. And that was in october 2009…
    We want to know more of Ragnars story. Please, give it to us. 🙁

    /MacKnight (And probly alot of Space Wolves fans).

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