Brian Freeman from Cemetery Dance wants us to know that people called him crazy for giving away the e-book and audiobook of his novella The Painted Darkness before the paper edition is even available. I say that sort of insanity is a great idea. Freeman’s press release bears out his crazy wisdom:
So far we’ve:
* sold out a signed Limited Edition of 750 copies priced at $75 each in less than 24 hours — remember, this is for an unknown author, not a big name, and that was our fastest sell out since our special edition of The Passage by Justin Cronin
* sold more preorders for the $19.99 trade hardcover edition than we’ve sold for any book not written by Stephen King in our 22 years in business
* generated more sub-rights inquires than we’ve ever had for any title, including a New York publisher who wanted to know if they could take over publishing the hardcover (!)
* almost 2,200 people entered for a chance to win an advance review copy through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers, making it one of the most popular books in the history of the program
* WOWIO.com has asked to make The Painted Darkness their “Free eBook of the Month” on the front page of their site for October, with a large marketing push to support the promotion
More than 10,000 readers downloaded the book for free during the first two weeks alone, and sales strongly back-up our decision to try this “crazy” idea to promote the book. The free copies have generated more attention for The Painted Darkness than any traditional method of promoting the book could have — at least on our small press budget! :)
I’ve cited a gaming company, Evil Hat, in its frequent freebie giveaways, and the stats they posted bear out the success of this sort of promotion. Adding value to a product on the web is an inexpensive way to promote it. Audible.com and eMusic.com both offer free downloads to first time subscribers and are doing quite well. Baen’s e-ARCs are a boost to both sales and as a promotion.
While I do have an reflexive distaste for self-publishing hucksters who bash “traditional publishing”, there’s a lot of room for publishers to experiment, and in the current environment, standing still is not as safe as it once was. What do you think of this promotion?