Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Giving It Away

I’m looking for advice this week on the blog.

There’ll be no ranting, no raving and no attempts at making you laugh. All I ask is that you put yourself in my shoes for the time that you’re reading and ask yourself, ‘What would I do?’

I’ve been in this writing lark since 2006 now - that’s if you don’t include the times that I was having a little dabble prior to that.  But it was six years ago that saw me starting the book I knew I could finish and securing myself an agent.

As my regular readers will know, that whole saga went ‘boobies up’ and I came ‘close but no cigar’.  Thus began my Indie route.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit’ went onto Kindle in June of last year, swiftly followed by the paperback version on Lulu.  December last year saw the launch of ‘The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit’ and then June of this year ‘Completing the Puzzle’ - all books in both formats.

I was told by my agent and publishers that I would need to have more than one book under my belt and, boy did I take that advice on board.  There’s been no stopping me.

My sales have been steady - on some days I jump for joy!  But my Amazon rankings never really move much because of the sales I make in paperback.  I made the decision to print traditionally as so many had asked for it in ‘good old fashioned book form’.  That may have sold me more books in total but it's clearly hindered my Amazon ratings.

So, as us authors make it a daily task to check our ratings (and I know mine are altered because of the paperback), here’s my dilemma.

Lots of writers do a stint of ‘download for free’ days and they say it increases their sales afterwards, in particular with their other books.  I can see sense in this, really I can.  I’m not that proud that I don’t consider new options.  I can see that if I did a couple of days free for ‘The Diary’, those that enjoyed it would go on to buy my other two offerings.

BUT … and this is the big one.  There seem to be some real meanies out there who download these freebies, knowing that it’s not their usual genre and then leave nasty reviews.  One writer told me that she received comments saying, ‘Didn’t enjoy.  It read like chicklit.’  It was chicklit!  Don’t help yourself to a freebie and then diss it, please!

Now I like my reviews.  I pride myself on the fact that I haven’t received a bad one yet - touching wood and opening myself up to a whole load of nasties who’ll go off and say my books are pants!

I’ve worked hard to get those reviews and, at roughly one pound a book and the hours that I put in, I mean, hard!  I’d also like to add that less than a handful of my reviews have come from family or friends.  I’ve found all those people myself.

As much as a freebie might ultimately boost my sales, do I want to run the risk of blotting my copy book with a bad review from a Goth in NY city who usually only reads vampire books?   Although why these people download just to put people down, I have no idea!  And they can be harsh, trust me, I’ve read some of their words.

I know when you hit the big time, you’re going to get a mixed bag of opinions.  I’ve read the negative reviews for ‘50 Shades’ and I’d be sobbing if I was EL James (well, sobbing whilst laughing my way to the bank - which would probably see me having a long stint in The Priory!), but the fact remains that I haven’t hit the big time (yet!) and I don’t want anything to ruin my reputation.

So, readers, writers, bloggers, what do you think?  Do I risk it and see if it works?  Do I bite the bullet and offer a freebie?  Do I buy a HUGE box of tissues to deal with the comments from the likes of ‘Evil Snake Eater 666’ who leaves a review saying, ‘Bag of sh*te!  All about kids and stuff.’?

HELP!  I’ve seen it work for others but can it work for me?


Worried Misfit.

You can still PAY for my books (for very few pennies) at Amazon and on Lulu.
Don’t forget my radio show - every Tuesday at 8.30pm (UK) Mummy Misfit Radio, live from my kitchen table.


  1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, don't take the risk don't risk hitting the big time. Need I say more? I think you probably know this, but kind of nice when someone else tells you too!

  2. Now, you know that I've given my books away for free a few times now, and I have to say that SOMETIMES you do get a really good knock-on effect once that free promo has ended. For instance, a few months back I actually sold over 1,000 copies of a book in one month after a free promo - that's SOLD over 1,000 copies, off the back of a free giveaway. However, I've done other promos where I've only sold a handful post-promo. It varies. So, yes, in that respect it can give you a boost in sales that you might not otherwise have had. I've also had people say that they downloaded one of my books during a free promo, loved it, then went on to buy all the others, so it also works as a way of getting your name out there. BUT, and you already know this yourself, I've had some really bad/nasty/spiteful reviews off the back of free promos from people who've downloaded the book for free, read it, then given it one star because it wasn't the kind of book they usually read. It was free, they grabbed it, they decided to tell the world they hated it. That's the big risk you take with free promos, as I've discovered. I now have the full range of ratings from 1 - 5 stars on all of my books, but I can deal with those bad reviews now. I can handle them. It's all part and parcel of being a writer. Books are subjective. Not everyone's going to like what you write. So,I guess it's down to whether you really want to take the risk of a possible glut of sales against the possibility that you MIGHT (and you might not, remember) get one or two more negative reviews. I took the risk, I rode the roller coaster, and I don't regret it. It can be hit and miss as to the amount of post-promo sales you receive (I've never hit over 1,000 books since that one good promo for instance) but in my experience, I've always had sales after a free promo. Always. Let me know what you decide to do. :) x

  3. I had no idea that having a paperback could hinder your Amazon rankings. I've been in two minds about doing a paperback version, but honestly don't think I will, especially after seeing this post!

    As for the free promo, I think most readers would ignore bad reviews saying 'it's like chick lit' as most readers would be smart enough to know already if they were on a chick lit book listing! I can't speak from experience, and I don't think I'll be doing a free promo at the moment, but I intend to launch my next book with a freebie couple of days, which is probably quite a bad idea but I still want to try it!

  4. Why don't Amazon count every sale as a sale? That's just mean. Sorry I can't offer you any advice re the freebie but I have to say I've enjoyed all your books & am looking forward to the next one.

  5. I have no wisdom to offer but lots of cake and sympathy. I always take criticism personally. But you should not because I have read all your books and I bloody love them. x

  6. Thanks all for your comments here, on Twitter and by email. I have lots of food for thought - watch this space. Jane, Amazon only take their own sales into account and not the books I sell on Lulu. Glad that both you and Domestic Goddesque enjoyed them and I may well come looking for cake and sympathy, depending on my decision. Thank you all :)

  7. I'm one of the paperback crowd so not helping your Amazon figures much!

    When I look at reviews, I read the negative ones to see what it was they disliked. If it was something that wasn't relative to me, I ignore it.

    I liked your release of the first chapter of CTP. It gave readers the chance of reading a bit to test the water before purchase. I was always going to buy it anyway though! Is there a 'look inside' equivalent for kindles?

  8. Yes, go for it. Publish and be damned. I've had a novel sitting in a bottom drawer for more than a year. Couldn't find an agent and don't have the technical know-how to do an eBook/Kindle. So I'm just going to post it on my blog, chapter by chapter.