Hitting the target

So, last week I pulled the trigger. This week it’s time to discuss whether or not I hit the target. I’m thinking of a scene from the old 1938 Errol Flynn movie, “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” wherein the title character shows up at an archery competition disguised, because the evil prince put a price on his head. If he had a lick of sense he’d have stayed at home, but nooo. It’s a contest, and he’s determined to prove what everyone already knows: he’s the best bullseye buster in the realm. So, the heck with caution. Pretty soon he’s faced with a challenge. The shot he has to improve on lands dead center in the target. He nonchalantly draws his bow and lets his arrow fly. Naturally, it splits the first shooter’s arrow from nock to noggin. And the crowd goes wild! Mayhem ensues, and the intrepid archer sneaks out the back door with his reputation, and his neck, intact.

Thankfully, my task wasn’t quite as dramatic. I didn’t have to do better than anyone but myself. And no one was waiting to string me up simply for entering the arena. Nevertheless, I felt some tension. My goal was to distribute 5,000 free copies of one of my books.

Here’s a bit more background on my Little Primitive campaign, a giveaway of the first book in a three-volume series about a two-foot tall warrior living in the utter boondocks of Wyoming. The book originally came out in January 2014. So did the sequel, cleverly titled A Little More Primitive. I was quite ready for the world to show up at my doorstep waving money and clamoring for autographed copies.

I waited a long time, but damned few people showed up. In March of 2015, I published book three in the series, A Primitive in Paradise, another <cough> tour de force of fantasy storytelling. I even had a healthy smattering of reviews, virtually all 5-star, and still the path to my doorstep remained uncluttered by rabid fans, or those of any other stripe.

In January of this year, I finally decided to do something about it. I invested in ads which ran on Amazon, and my sales quickly went up. Not enough to cover their cost, however. But that was okay since I told myself I was building an audience, and any day now they’d discover my diminutive warrior and his cowboy entourage. Alas, very few made the leap.

The problem was pretty simple: few outside my circle of acquaintances knew the books existed. I had to get the word out. Doing so would cost some money, but if the books were really any good, folks would jump on ’em once they became aware of them. That remains my fervent hope.

So I invested roughly $550 in a 5-day giveaway campaign of the first book. I contacted 39 different websites to help in the promotion. Their combination of emails to subscribers, postings in newsletters, blurbs on Facebook and other social media sites, plus tweets to Lord only knows how many people, constituted the bulk of the campaign. I also emailed everyone I knew and quite a few I wasn’t sure of. The message was simple:

Here’s a great book, and it’s yours for FREE!

The results thus far have been positive. Some 5,800 free copies of A Little Primitive were downloaded during the 5-day period (8/25-8/29). Surprisingly, sales of the book nudged up, too. As did sales of the second and third books in the series. Hopefully, the “Pages Read” numbers will stay up as folks work their way through the collection. (Amazon/Kindle pays about a half-cent for each page read.) Here’s how sales and page reads shaped up for the month of August 2018:

The pink area represents earnings from ebook Sales. The blue area represents earnings from Pages Read. 

Okay, so I haven’t made quite enough to take the New Zealand cruise I’ve been dreaming about, but the results are pretty clear: average Sales and Reads tripled, at least briefly. Promotion pays. And hopefully, it will keep paying even though the promotion is over.

I’m so pleased with the progress so far that I’ve planned a new promo for a different book. It’ll run from 9/5 through 9/8. The focus this time is a stand-alone novel, no sequels exist. I’ll provide more details next week.

Anyone interested in a list of the websites I used for the Little Primitive campaign can email me for a copy. You can reach me here: DruidJosh@gmail.com

–Josh

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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4 Responses to Hitting the target

  1. Doris Reidy says:

    Fantastic! Good for you; you took a chance and hey, it worked.

  2. polinto says:

    I’m glad to see it worked! Good luck with the next campaign.

  3. MaryCan says:

    And now you know a lot more than you used to know! The wide gaps at the end explain your campaign, but do you know what happened at the first of the month, where there is another gap? FYI: Until you can afford the Kiwi trip, check out “800 Words” — filmed in Weld, NZ, and most surprising is that it is a real town!

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