It was a spur-of-the-moment decision – I decided to give away ODD MAN OUT, a short story pair that featured the title tale (about 1600 words) and a second short story called THE HOUSE AT THE BEND IN THE ROAD (about 1800 words).
Of all my works, I like this cover the best. It looks professionally done, because it was. I have a good friend, Rich Siegle, who did the cover for me (gratis), and he does book covers for small publisher Poison Pen Press in Scottsdale, Arizona. I paired these two stories because, well, they seemed to go together. Originally I had paired SOLE OCCUPANT and ODD MAN OUT because I liked them about the best of all my short stories, but I ended up using this pairing because it kept the word counts between the two ebooks about the same.
ODD MAN OUT is also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS. The short story pair costs $0.99 on Amazon, because that is the lowest price Amazon will let you set for something. I lowered the collection to $0.99 also, because I hoped to move some titles.
I decided to give this short story away because I thought if someone liked enough, they might be inspired to buy the collection which contains both of these and twelve other stories (including the aforementioned SOLE OCCUPANT).
I also started to expand this short story into a longer work. Hoping that I can get 20 or 30 thousand words out of it. It struck me as I read it that there was a lot more story to tell. So we’ll see what comes out of that project. I haven’t been putting much time into writing on this story recently; there’s been a LOT going on with my family, but I think things might start to wind down now.
The other reason I haven’t been writing it is because I spent some time finishing up the collaboration between my son Kevin and me. It’s part of a series, and we completed Book 1 and got a fair start on Book 2. Book 1 is about 77000 words, so it’s a full length novel. Believe it or not, it started life as Harry Potter/SwordArt Online crossover fan fiction written by my son. I saw some potential in it and decided to write it with a more original slant.
So, maybe I will get some things written before summer runs out of time. We’ll see.
Oh, yeah. The point of this post was that I did a giveaway with ODD MAN OUT. The giveaway ran three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). I only announced it on Facebook. I gave away 35 copies of the short story in that time frame. (Well, 36, but one was downloaded by me for free in an attempt to boost the number by one.)
I guess that’s 35 people who never heard of me before, because I doubt I had anyone from my Facebook announcement get it. Okay, perhaps there were four or five downloads because of that announcement. I can’t say for sure. We’ll see if anyone grabs the collection in the next week or so. Even one or two downloads would be great!
So, did it do what I hoped? No…it made it to #10 on a “Ghosts and Haunted Houses” list on Amazon, but it certainly didn’t amount to much in the sense of sheer downloads. But it’s just one of those things.
Have a great week.
FYI: There’s a trick to getting Amazon to sell your ebook for $0, so I’ve heard (never have done it). You put it on both Amazon and Smashwords, set the Smashwords cost to $0, and tell Amazon to match it. Seems a bit much in my case because that’s two times the formatting cost (cover art is the same, of course).
Your results might have improved by using Goodreads., which I think is better than Facebook for selling ebooks. Most groups there have an “Announce your Free Giveaways” section, or something similar, and you’re directing your marketing effort at readers.
Part of your problem (if you think it’s one) can be attributable to the “glut effect.” When readers can get entire novels for free, they tend to not pay attention to short stories. Moreover, short story collections don’t seem to do well, judging by my own and a separate one with one of my stories in it. How’s Quantum Zoo doing?
It’s really a slog. I just corresponded with one author whose book I reviewed (it’s a good one) who said that novel hit #1 on Amazon. I told him congrats, he just won the lottery! But maybe my stuff just stinks. Who knows?
As I say many times, I’m having to much fun to quit, and if each ebook entertains just one reader, it’s a success from my POV.
I would have trouble buying a short story for $0.99, myself, so I don’t expect to sell any of them. Even so, every once in a while someone buys one of them. At the top of each description, I put, in large letters, that the stories are also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS, which is also on sale for $0.99. Hopefully someone who looks at one of them will instead look to the collection, but I suppose that requires more effort to find it than simply buying the short story.
Re: Quantum Zoo…I haven’t heard much about how it’s doing for a while now. I was just considering a blog entry on what the publication meant to me actually.
I can say with some degree of certainty that your stories do not stink, not from my perspective. They’re engrossing reads, and I’m happy to link to your stories and web page whenever I can.
Thanks for the kudos. I’ve read many books by indie authors that are just as good or better than those by NY Times bestselling authors. All too often, by the time they make the NY Times (let’s face it–the Times is a mouthpiece for the Big Five), they’ve become predictable or worse, albeit the stories are still entertaining (or they’d flop–some of them do). Percentage-wise, the new ideas and voices are found in the indies, and those books represent good entertainment at a reasonable price.
I have no idea how to price one short story or a short story collection. In my case, the pricing is more or less proportional to total words, for collections as well as novels, although I try to stick to the sweet spot of $2.99 to $4.99 for the latter.
I’ve seen some analyses for the pricing of ebooks (Big Five take notice), but they all seem a bit like those studies that say coffee is good for you one day, and bad the next. Amazon holds sales figures close to its vest; the Big Five do too. There’s not much transparency.
My rule of thumb is to ask myself: What would I pay for this? You can’t compare apples and oranges of course. I think a fast food meal is far too expensive, but a $4.99 ebook might not be if it sounds intriguing. 🙂
If I like an author, I don’t worry too much about anything under 5 dollars for an ebook. If it’s an unknown to me, or if it’s early in my exposure to a certain author, I’m more comfortable in that $2.99 range.
I recently was looking for a book series that my sons want (by Brandon Mull), and interestingly, at Amazon, the Kindle versions of the three books will cost me over 22 dollars, while the box set will cost about 18 dollars. Something wrong with that picture, I think.