Residual Sales and Post-Christmas Blues

Well, my promo is over. It finished on Boxing Day. Total units shifted during the free period – believe it or not, exactly 1,000. Not 1,001, not 999. Bang on 1,000. Bizarre. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of that was in the US. Over 800 in fact. The difference over there, I think, is the number of other sites that seem to take feeds from Amazon and promote the books for you. I found a few that Oblivious was listed on by virtue of it being free. It seems especially that the sales spiked on the first day of the promotion which must mean these satellite sites have a dedicated following that use the free listings every day. I might try the same thing in January then and see what happens the second time around. I suspect the law of diminishing returns may come into play, but we’ll see.

Anyway, it has had an effect on residual sales. Not a massive amount, but it’s up from where it was. So was it worth doing? Absolutely. I’ve gotten more readers than I had before. Also, today, I have my first ‘borrower’ who has taken the book out for their virtual ebook lending library. So that’s interesting as well. It entitles me to some miniscule percentage of the $500,000 fund for virtual lending for December. Let’s hope hardly anyone borrowed anything. In theory, if only one other book was borrowed, once, I should get $250,000. Somehow, I seriously doubt that will be the case. If a million books were borrowed, I’ll get 50 cents, but hey, 50 cents is 50 cents. I’ve been saving up for a down payment on a Cadbury’s Creme Egg…

Also, Christmas seems to be over. Hurray. Now I can get on with the rest of my life until it sneaks up again next year. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas (although I don’t really) it’s just that it always seems a bit of an anti-climax. I worked out yesterday that I really am a man of simple tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I got some nice presents, it was nice to see people pleased with what I’d gotten them, we had a nice Christmas dinner, had a good time playing with my daughter. But I took Grace to the cinema yesterday to see the Chipmunks (awful film) and it struck me that sitting in the dark eating some nachos with salsa and jalapeno peppers on them was actually up there with the most enjoyable moments of the holidays for me. How sad is that? Not sure yet whether that says more about me or more about Christmas…

What I did get though is two significant iTunes vouchers. I bought 10 albums yesterday and still have half the credit left. Some great music now on my iPod. If anyone is even remotely interested, I’d definitely recommend Big Tobacco by Joe Pernice and The Eventually Home by Right Away, Great Captain! When I’ve actually had time to listen to some of the others I might be able to recommend them as well. But because I am actually working today, I’d better go and get on with that. And I’ll leave you with my track of 2011 (it actually came out in 2006 but as per usual I came to it five years late), They Ride by The Twilight Singers:


The Snowball Effect

Well, I said I’d update the Blog on progress of the free promotion. I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t gone quite how I expected. I thought it may gather a little bit of interest, I might shift a few more copies than I usually do, and it may help raise my profile a little bit.

Yeah, I had a feeling something else was happening as early as yesterday morning when my sales (I’ll still call them sales, even though they’re technically not whilst the book is free) were up 600% for the month. At the time of writing this, just over 24 hours in, my sales are up over 8000% on the month. More people downloaded Oblivious yesterday than have downloaded it in the entire year since it was put up on Amazon. In fact, it was more than double the amount of downloads in the year. I’ve potentially tripled my readership in a single day… That was NOT what I expected.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s great news for me. I’m in the top 5 for short stories on Amazon in both the UK and the US. Top 20 for literary fiction. And that’s why I think so many have been downloaded. Amazon does have this snowball effect. A couple of people show an interest, and suddenly you’re rising up the rankings a little bit. The higher you are, the more visible you are; the more visible you are, the more people show an interest etc. It’s been getting into that cycle that has always eluded me. The free promotion seems to have done the trick.

I’m sure some people may never get around to reading it. Last Christmas I was doing what some of these Amazon customers are almost certainly doing now: that is, loading my partner’s kindle with as many cheap and free books as I could before giving it to her as her present. I wanted it to be loaded up for her. (She hasn’t read all the books I put on there for her: some of them she may never read, some of them she may get to at some point). I’m also sure that some of the people that do read it may not like it. And that’s obviously fine too. Hopefully some will like it, in which case it’s achieved what has always been my primary goal with this collection – to get it in front of people and see what they think. Making money from it was never the main concern. I want to be in this for the long haul and there’s time for that later. If I could keep the book free on Amazon all the time I probably would. But as it is, it will be free for a couple of days this month and then I’ll get the chance to see whether that has any residual effect on sales once the price goes back on. And that, I’m sure, will give me something else to post about.

Anyway, happy Christmas everyone. I’m now going to slink off and do the family celebration stuff. Cheers.


This is almost certainly the wrong place to advertise it, but I’ve made use of the new KDP promotional tool to make Oblivious free for the Kindle for the next 5 days. That takes me through to Boxing Day which I figured might be a good time to get people picking it up. Yeah, I don’t make any royalties on it during this period, but it was never about the money anyway (good job really as it doesn’t make any) and it might increase its exposure a little bit with new Kindle owners looking for freebies.

So far today, hours after the promotion started, my ‘sales’ have rocketed. Will keep the blog updated on the outcome. A little promo experiment…

Fairytale of New York

Well, it’s happened. I heard The Pogues on the radio. This is what I use to gauge when Christmas officially starts. Not only is it the best Christmas song ever, it’s the only one that I genuinely like, the only one that I can listen to every year, a hundred times, and not want to rip my own ears off.

It was swiftly followed by Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses and yes, the glorious mood it put me in was immediately slaughtered. If I’d had a hose I would probably have pulled the car over and attached it to the exhaust.

Why is most Christmas music so unbearably shit? Probably because it’s sentimental rubbish. Everyone’s happy, everyone loves each other, isn’t it glorious to be alive? No, it isn’t. There are things about Christmas I love – not working has to be a big one. Watching my daughter in carol concerts is superb, makes me cry every year pretty much. Watching her open presents is great, having a laugh with the missus is great. And then it all goes wrong when someone in the extended family kicks off over something. Happens practically every year. Even when it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter because we’ve all been sitting around tense, waiting for it, and that in itself usually ruins the day.

Maybe this is why I like the Pogues song so much. For the people in it, Christmas is a time to reflect on how disappointed they are in each other. Seems to me that a lot of the people around me use Christmas as a time to reflect on how disappointed they are that they don’t get exactly what they want. They build Christmas up into this idealised event and then moan when it never quite lives up to the perfection they foolishly imagined. See, my approach is much more satisfying: expect nothing and then be surprised and pleased by anything nice that does happen. (And, that way, I’m usually at least prepared for the annual shitstorm when it arrives).

This year, my missus is laid up with a broken coccyx after falling down the stairs. That probably sounds awful, and it is, but actually it means that we can’t do anything with the extended family. It’ll just be the two of us and our daughter. Which means it will probably be the most relaxed Christmas I’ve ever had. No arguments, no bullshit. Or, at least, the arguments and bullshit have all already happened. They’re already out of the way, a week early, so now I can relax – at least until 2012. So thank you to the DJ who played Fairytale of New York this morning. Looks like this year will be a good one. Now bring it on…

World Domination

Hey, I’ve just sold my first ebook in Germany. Only about 6 months after Kindle was launched on the German Amazon site. Still nothing yet for France, Italy or Spain but what the hell, world domination beckons… Or maybe not.

In any case, to celebrate I’m writing a story called ‘Werner Herzog Gets Shot’ which is influenced by the band Get Well Soon.

Brautigan update

As promised the other day, I’ve now uploaded the chapters on Brautigan’s postmodern model of time and his utilisation of Zen Buddhism. The latter borrows a title from Robert Pirsig – ‘Zen and the Art of Richard Brautigan’.

All the Brautigan chapters can be found from the menu links at the top of the blog.

And that is now officially it. I’ve gotten it all off my chest. Never do I want to read a critical text again as long as I live…

Wednesday 7th December

Launch of the competition anthology for Pulp Idol 2011 on Wednesday. Will be available in paperback and for Kindle from then. Names out of a hat for readers on the night and mine came out, so I’ll be reading from the edited and slightly reworked first chapter of Hinterland.

It’s being held at Studio 2, Parr Street, Liverpool, L1 4JN – 6.30 to 8.30. Further details here on Facebook.