The Impact of Free

During the months of September and October, I made Book 1 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series free across all platforms which I control, for promotional purposes. Amazon eventually price-matched. During those several weeks, sales of The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen skyrocketed and it soared to #1 on the Top 100 Free in Kindle Store list. When the price was reinstated ($0.99), the book continued to top the genre lists (Humor, Women Sleuths) and managed to hang around on the Top 100 Paid list for a bit. While the book enjoyed that visibility, sales were phenomenal. But was there any lasting impact?

Yes and no.

As you will see from the table below, by far the biggest impact was on sales of Book 2 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series. Family Jewels continues to sell very briskly at its full price of $2.99 (500 units per month, compared to pre-sale volumes of 50 units per month).

However, there was virtually no transfer of velocity to my other books. This is by no means a surprise, since the Dix Dodd books (humorous mysteries co-written with Heather Doherty under the pseudonym N.L. Wilson) are so radically different from the romantic suspense and paranormal romance I write, and the YA that Heather and I write together.

As it a success? Absolutely! Fashion Queen now has 35 reviews with an average of 4.2 stars. And it created a much wider audience for subsequent books.

11 Responses to “The Impact of Free”

  • Thanks for sharing, Norah. Those mystery numbers are fabulous. Congratulations!

  • great informaiton, Norah. thanks so much for sharing with us.


  • Norah,
    Those are lovely numbers! Congratulations. I see what you mean about the second book in the series selling so well. I’ll keep my fingers crossed the sales continue even more briskly over the holidays!

    Thanks for the insight.
    Kate Kelly

  • Wow, Norah. Thanks for sharing this info. I’m so new to all of this and there are so many opposing opinions floating out there, that it really helps to see hard numbers. It really makes me wonder if (when I FINALLY get a chance to go back to my three-volume historical romance saga WIPs) if I shouldn’t price the first one as free? What do you think? I plan to put them all out at the same time, btw.

    • Norah:

      K.E., Sorry to be so long replyling. Your comment was buried in spam. 🙁
      I would definitely price the first one at free if they are all going up at once. Of course, I would put it up at the regular price first. Then reduce it at Smashwords and its distributors. Trying to get Amazon (and B&N if you’re not pubbed there thru Smashwords) to price match at free can be time-consuming, and they’re under no obligation to do it, but if they do, you should enjoy good “sales” for the free book. And if people like it, they’ll go on to read the rest of the series. I definitely recommend it. It does have some downsides – people who wouldn’t normally read a book in your genre will pick it up because it’s free, and won’t like it. But you’ll also find lots of readers who do.

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    • Hi Preston,You are simply aminzag! Many say that I am hard to please being as detailed oriented as I am. I never go for the ordinary but the extraordinary. I am fairly new to the business and struggling to make a name for myself. My issue is devalueing yourself. Last year I signed up to promote my business via a bridal show in Brooklyn it was a big step for me because it was something I was a little intimidated to do. I paid five hundred dollars to the promoter.Not knowing what to expect I decided that I was going to leave the show with at least one client. So I gave away my services for free to one lucky bride via a raffle drawing.That was probably the worst thing I have ever done!!! This bride really shook me to the core. She called me at a minimum of 6 times a day and took advantage of me in the worst way. There is just no time to tell you everything bridezilla put me through. I would love to one day though. Long story short I devalued myself and got take advantage of big time. That experience took a toll on me emotionally, physically (I lost 10 pounds) and financially.Only 10 brides showed up at the show and I was immensly disappointed. I did learn alot from the experience and has since recovered emotionally at least.I know that God is on my side and that I will get past all the obstacles that have come my way. The entire experience left me stronger and reunited me with someone very dear to me that I had lost touch with. My cousin Kim that I called during the whole experience to help me. She was more than willing. So I got my cousin back that I love so dearly. She has been my rock a great support and I think that without this experience that i would not have reached out to her. So there is always something good that comes out of something bad.Preston you create magic and I commend you. Thanks for being there to listen and help.

    • I am literally criyng tears pouring down my face as I type this. God had to have known I needed this today. As soon as I opened my twitter page, your message was there .. I am a custom invitation designer that is at a crossroad with my business. I basically have the same challenges you had years ago..but not the exact dollar amount. I am very creative and is at a point in my career that I am in demand .But cannot seem to move my business from this place ..I cannot seem to get the business side together. I cannot find the right people to help because I do not have the money to pay them what they deserve I have been designing invitations for 8 years. I opened my studio three years ago. I love nothing more than designing invitations outside of my family. I have no other option but to do this. God showed me when I was 8 years old that I would be in a creative field .I had no idea how hard the business side of this would be. When you are running a business by yourself, you feel that no one else understands the everyday challenges you go through. Although I cry about my troubles, I have never thought of giving up. If I gave up what else would I do. I know I belong in this field because when I create a custom invitation for a client the reaction I get from them is priceless .I know that I am different, Great and destined to be the best! I attended a seminar that Sean Low gave in Atlanta last year and he spoke about your business .His words were very encouraging. I left that day and cried my heart out and prayed that some how I will succeed not only in the creative side but the business side as well. Any advice you offer will greatly be appreciated. Thanks

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