In all honesty, I had had it with Amazon Select. I had decided it was a waste of time. After trying an experiment at Christmas where I made my latest book free for four days and having somewhere in the region of 300 downloads in total I had decided that it was pointless. I had spent almost a day emailing bloggers, including the big ones like Pixel of Ink and e-Reader News Today. The big guys never picked me up, and it seemed that the hours emailing the others had proved fruitless. In the first few days of the year, I had decided that Select and I, were through.
Then after the irritation of my perceived failure to even give my books away, I came up with a new theory. Christmas, as we know is a crazy rush of sales. Even walking into the local department store is overwhelming, as everything is price-slashed and mixed up together. I love a bargain, but not even I can cope with this type of shopping. So, I thought, perhaps Amazon was just a digital version of this. Maybe everybody had thought they would cash in on the Christmas rush, and maybe Escaping Life just got caught up in the wave of free books all fighting for room to breathe.
Two weeks ago today, on a whim, I decided to give the Amazon Select another chance. I set a two day free period to start on a Wednesday, and I emailed the two big advertisers mentioned above, along with a few other blogs and Facebook groups. By the end of the first day, I had already exceeded the previous total, and had given away something like 1000 books. This was progress, and I went to bed feeling quite happy that Escaping Life was sitting somewhere in the region of #1600 in the overall free chart on Amazon.co.uk.
As the second day progressed, my frequency for number and ranking checking took on a whole new enthusiasm. I watched it creep up further and further, and the downloads rose from 1000, to 1200, and then 1400, and then in the latter half of the day I realised that the book had made it to number 14 overall. Surely this was enough to warrant an extra day? Could it get higher? I didn't know what to expect, but eagerly scheduled the next day anyway.
By the end of the third day I had given close to 4000 books away, 60% in the UK, another 30% in America, with the remaining 10% spread between the other sites. The book made it to #11 in the overall free chart, and #2 in the subcategories 'women sleuths' and 'suspense'. I was, to put it mildly, ecstatic. Even more so when I realised that only two places ahead of me was Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. (OK, I know this is irrelevant, but it seemed very exciting to be on the same page as that book.)
Since then I have seen a steady stream of sales, most notably in the first few days. Then this morning, something else happened. Amazon emailed me. Subject: Escaping Life. My first thought was 'Oh God, what have I messed up?' But I soon realised that it was a list of recommendations, and Escaping Life was the first book on the list. They wondered if I might be interested in my own book. You bet your life I am!
So my conclusions so far is this. At the right time, and with a bit of effort on my part, Select can, and has worked. I have had more sales this week then the last three months put together. But the real question is not how many sales I have had so far, but rather, who else got that email? Did many other people wake up with the an email from Amazon recommending Escaping Life this morning? If Amazon are advertising my book in this way, this is certainly because of the success of Select. Only time will tell if this email has gone out to many other book lovers, and if it results in sales. But I am starting to wonder if using the free Select days might be the difference I was waiting for.