Does self-publishing work? Rosalind James's debut novel, "Just This Once: Escape to New Zealand" was downloaded 14,500 times in its first weekend as a free eBook for Amazon's Kindle, and her three books have gone on to sell almost 800 copies in five days.
Just This Once, Book One of the Escape to New Zealand series, by Rosalind James
Online PR News – 14-September-2012 –Rosalind James’s debut novel, “Just This Once,” is proof that it can. The contemporary romance, set in New Zealand, was published by the author for Amazon’s Kindle on September 1, 2012. On September 7, James offered the book for three days as a free Kindle download.
“I was expecting a hundred downloads. A thousand, in my dreams,” James says. “I spent the entire weekend screaming like a teenager.”
By Sunday evening, over 14,500 customers worldwide had downloaded the book, and it peaked at #2 in Women’s Contemporary Fiction and #23 among all free eBooks on Amazon.
But do free downloads necessarily translate into sales? For James’s books, they did. By Thursday morning, the book had reached #82 on Amazon’s Women’s Contemporary Fiction list, and by Thursday evening, James had sold almost 800 copies of “Just This Once” and the next two books in the “Escape to New Zealand” series, all published less than two weeks earlier.
What happened to produce these kinds of numbers? James, who like that other James has a marketing background, explains, “Titling the series “Escape to New Zealand” helped--because I think every woman would like to Escape to New Zealand! And I had an attractive book cover, which is what the customer sees once you get on the Top 100 lists.”
“But most of all,” James says, “I have to credit the Kindle Select program. I was initially a bit hesitant about making the books exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. But as a marketer, I know that for a completely unknown brand, anonymity is the enemy. It’s all about brand exposure. I was able to get my “brand”—my name and my series—in front of 14,500 people, at no cost. No, I didn’t make money on those downloads. But I had two other books in the series. I guessed some percentage of readers would go on to buy the second and third books.”
And they have gone on to buy. But the “free” book has also continued to move up the sales ranks since the free offer. As James notes, “You can’t buy that kind of exposure.”
James’s advice to other authors looking to self-publish? “Hire a book cover designer so your book looks professional. Get help writing your blurb. And above all, make sure your book is edited. Then take advantage of those free days and get your book out there. Making money is great. But sharing the world you’ve created with that many readers? Priceless.”
About Rosalind James: Rosalind James is the author of three romance novels in the "Escape to New Zealand" series, and is hard at work now on the fourth book. She has lived all over the United States and in a number of other countries, traveling with her civil engineer husband. Most recently, she spent several years in Australia and New Zealand, where she fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the culture of both countries.