Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

My Free eBooks This Week

I'm rounding out the remainder of my KDP Select free promotion days for both The Five Elements and The Hall of the Wood this week. If you're one of my two blog readers, then get your trigger finger ready, cause it's almost time to download.

Unlike some other promotional runs, I'm not going to go crazy promoting this one. This post will go up, then get syndicated over to Amazon and Goodreads and that's it. Alright, so I'll put it up on Twitter, too, but that's really it. This promotional stuff wears you out after a while. I'm also trying to keep my focus on the next book in The Alchemancer series which follows The Five Elements. It's going to be good, and that's all I'll say.

As for the free promotions, here's how it's going to go down:

4/10 – 4/11 (Tue-Wed): The Hall of the Wood goes free.

4/12 (Thur): For 1 day only, The Five Elements goes free.

The Five Elements for whatever reason always does well with these things. Thousands of downloads which then translate into hundreds of sales for so many days afterwards. The Hall of the Wood gets a fair amount of downloads—in the hundreds—but then never really does much after that. I guess it's the content. The Hall of the Wood is Tolkien-like, traditional fantasy, which just ain't in style anymore. The Five Elements is most definitely not traditional fantasy. Come Thursday, download it, read it, review it. That's all I ask.

Free Today: The Hall of the Wood

The Hall of the Wood is free today on Amazon.

The novel is straightforward, classic fantasy: goblins, witches, rangers, sorcerers, knights, and murky woods. It's a bit of a mystery story with elements of suspense and plenty of action and adventure. There's some magic, too. Readers have complemented me on the development of the characters, which is more than they expect given the nature of the story.

Here's the "official" blurb:

All is not right in the Simarron Woods.

The King's Patrol has vanished. Their Hall stands empty. Goblins prowl the fringes of the forest and folk whisper of a sitheri witch brewing evil from the darkest hollows.

Once a patroller of the Hall, Jerrick is duty-bound to investigate. He is joined by Kayra Weslin, knight errant, and her chronicler, Holly, who go to answer a plea for help from nearby Homewood. Along with Murik Alon Rin'kres, an eslar sorcerer who harbors a secret purpose all his own, the four attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing patrollers. They soon find tales of their disappearance frighteningly untrue.

If you've been on the fence on this one, now you can get it for free. Hard to argue with free.

And, while you're over on Amazon, why not pick up a copy of The Five Elements? It's an unrelated story that begins the tale of the alchemancer, a character I plan on taking through a story arc of 4-5 books when all is said and done. This first novel is a self-contained story, though, and many readers have said some very nice things about the characters, writing, and the story.

The Five Elements is FREE 3/21-3/22

Starting tomorrow (or today depending on when you're reading this), The Five Elements, my fantasy/pseudoscience novel that has been described by one reader as "an enveloping story that drags you in and doesn't let go" will be free on Amazon in Kindle format.

The promotion runs for two days—from 3/21 to 3/22. I would greatly appreciate it if everyone and anyone would download the eBook on one of those dates. I'm really curious to see how the novel does in the rankings this time around. This will be the second free promotion I've run. The first went great. But I'd really like to do better. That's why I'm bought some ad space here and there. That's why I've given advanced notice to my Twitter followers. This post will hit Goodreads—where almost 1,000 people entered to win a print copy of The Five Elements—and Amazon either tonight or tomorrow; plenty of time for everyone to find out about this promotion and take advantage of it.

Last but not least, I'm giving YOU, dear blog reader, advanced notice, too. You see, free rankings translate over into paid rankings; last time I achieved some very good free rankings that wound up giving me a real good paid run thereafter. My goal is to at least do that again.

We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, get ready to download!

The Failure of Free

As an unknown writer, I adopted early on the Cory Doctorow mantra that "for pretty much every writer -- the big problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity". Doctorow gives away his novels via his web site even as they're sold through the usual retailers. Apparently, this model works well for him. I thought it was something that, for me, was at least worth a try.

Sometime after I finished writing my fantasy novel, The Hall of the Wood, and had put it up on the various online retailer sites, I decided to also start giving it away via this site. I figured while I was busying myself with my next writing project I'd be, worst case, spreading the word about my work, name, etc. Best case, I'd surely get some reviews out of it or at least some (hopefully) positive feedback. Maybe someone might even go out and buy a copy as a show of support.

What were the results?

In all, I must have given away about 2,000 copies in between the time I first made it available as a download and when I finished my next (unrelated) novel, The Five Elements. Since that time, with very little promotion, I racked up another 7-800 downloads. All told, not great, but not bad considering the audience on this blog is somewhat limited (audience is key; I'll touch on that next post). So, out of 2700-2800 downloads, how many reviews or emails with feedback do you think I received? How many sales?

I got 1 review and a handful of emails for HOTW. Sales… so miniscule not even worth mentioning.

About a year ago I did the same thing with The Five Elements, except this time I put a nice note in the front of each PDF saying something to the effect of "Thanks for downloading. I'd love it if you could give me a review." Almost 1,000 downloads later, no feedback and no reviews.

Sheesh.

So what went wrong?

Hard to say, but I suspect people were downloading the novels and never reading. I do this myself. I have a "folder of forgotten eBooks", either in Kindle or PDF format, which I've downloaded, categorized, and then never looked at again. Some people think this sort of hoarding goes on with eBooks priced at $0.99, too. I believe them. Whether free or 99 cents, both prices are cheap enough that most people aren't going to feel guilty enough or obligated to actually read the book. Pay $2.99, $4.99, $9.99 or even more for an eBook and I think the reader is much more likely to follow up the purchase with a read (and maybe even a review). It is for this very reason that some authors will not price their work at $0.99. I have to agree with them. If you think about it, by downloading a lot of free or 99 cent eBooks, a reader has simply transferred the hoard of cheap content from Amazon to their own personal device. Picking out what to read (or to read anything at all) becomes no less easy as a result.

With this in mind, I changed my strategy. No more freebies and no more of my eBooks priced at $0.99. Given the apparent correlation between price and the quality of the reader, I mapped out a blueprint of which I will discuss next post. Believe it or not, but this plan (so far, anyway) is working and I'm making sales every day.

Upcoming giveaway for The Five Elements

I'm running a giveaway on GoodReads for 5 print copies of The Five Elements!

The giveaway begins on Feb. 10 (this Friday) and runs for a month. Lots of time to sign-up, but wanted to give some advance notice.

GoodReads giveaways are made with no expectation of anything in return—namely a book review—though it is greatly appreciated.

I'll post again when the giveaway period begins.

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