by John Gilstrap
A couple of weeks ago, I posted our marketing strategy for Hostage Zero which included a limited time free giveaway of the ebook version of No Mercy in all e-formats. In principle, it seemed like a good idea: We’d let people have a risk-free peek at the first book in the series, and with luck, they’d have whetted appetities for the second installment.
Well, apparently the strategy worked. Within hours, No Mercy shot to #1 on the free-book Kindle list, where it stayed for its entire free-book run. The attention brought some very hot reviews to the amazon.com No Mercy page, and sparked some favorable cyber word-of-mouth. That’s all good, but free is free. Then a funny thing happened.
When the free-book status expired on July 5, No Mercy stayed at the #1 slot, only this time in the PAID Kindle Store, outselling Stieg Larsson’s Tattoo series books. I told myself it must be an anomaly. After a couple of hours, I figured it would slip off the list. Only it didn’t. The book stayed at #1 for over two days. As I write this, 4:37 on July 8, it’s still at #3 in the Kindle Store.
It gets better. Hostage Zero–my new release–is currently at #61 and climbing (falling?) in the Kindle Store. Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is #62.
All of this is very cool, but I have no idea what it means in the larger sense. Hopefully, the trend will contine and my books will become one of those word-of-mouth sensations that sets the world on fire; but it’s also possible that this is a brief flash–fun for a while, but ultimately not a big deal.
It’s not at all clear to me whether the ups and downs of the ebook market has any effect on the paper-book market. When a Kindle reader calls her Luddite Aunt Betty to say that she just read this amazing book, Aunt Betty will need to be able to find that book in the local bookstore in order to share the experience. I venture to guess that No Mercy will be a hard find this far after its initial publication. Can a runaway ebook prompt a bricks-and-mortar bookseller to restock a title? I guess we’ll see.
Hell, I don’t even know how much I make off the sale of an ebook.
Whatever this is that is happening, though, is very, very exciting.
by John Gilstrap