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Now that I have completed the Sam Plank series, and now that I have stopped the day job and am reconfiguring how I spend my time, I decided that I needed to do something significant to mark these events and to signal my intent to be a more professional author.  I considered a tattoo (no, not really) and commissioning my likeness in dark chocolate (yes, really), but in the end I have plumped for this: a permafree series opener.

For those of you (I hope all of you – it’s a horrid word) shuddering at the term “permafree”, I should explain that it means free forever.  In other words, I am making the e-book of “Fatal Forgery” free forever on all the sales platforms I can find.  My reasons are these:

  • Several successful indie authors of series have already done it and highly recommend it
  • A free book entices readers to take a punt on an unknown author – and once they’ve had a taste of Sam and Martha and the gang, I’m sure they won’t be able to resist buying the next six books in the series, for themselves and all their friends and every member of their extended family
  • It’s scary and exciting – and at my stage in life, something scary and exciting is good.

Of course, it’s not that simple to make something permafree, unless you do it right from the start.  All of the Sam e-books were enrolled (there, you see: I’m putting it in the passive to deny responsibility, but it’s entirely my fault) in the KDP Select programme.  This means that they can only be sold on Amazon, and in exchange for this exclusivity I get a higher royalty rate (70% as opposed to 35% for e-books that are published “wide” – i.e. other places as well as Amazon).  And Amazon does not – for obvious reasons – allow you to price a book at free.  So I needed to get the books off KDP Select, and there is a three-month notice period.  That expired last week, and I had a giddy couple of days publishing the e-books to other platforms such as Google Play, Kobo and Barnes & Noble (formerly Nook).  They do allow you to price books at free, which I did for “Fatal Forgery”.  And once you have a book priced at free on a couple of reputable competitor sites, you can request Amazon to price match to zero on their site – which they have done (it’s not a given, and there’s no guarantee they’ll keep the price at zero, but we can try).  It’s as simple as that…

I have plans for world domination with permafree Forgery, and – again on the recommendation of much more successful indie authors – I have booked a series promo on Freebooksy.  This site promotes free books to its “over 150,000 voracious readers”, and with a series promo they highlight the free opener and show the rest of the series.  That’s booked in for 30 June, at a cost of US$95 – about £78.  Given that I get about £1.40 royalty per e-book sold (nothing for “Fatal Forgery”, of course – I mean the other six), I have to hope that the promo will result in at least fifty-six additional sales.  The true value of a series promo, I am told, is its “long tail” of sales, which will be hard to monitor, but I feel excited that I am trying something new.

And here’s something interesting…  Since “Fatal Forgery” went permafree a couple of days ago, I have told my friends on Facebook, and Sam’s audience of 23 on Facebook, and his 17 followers on Twitter.  (I know, I know: I really need to get a grip on his social media presence – or, more truthfully, his absence).  So not many people have been told.  And yet the word is out somehow: since yesterday, there have been 322 downloads of “Fatal Forgery”, pushing it to sales rank 54 in the historical fiction e-books category on Amazon.  And sales rank really matters on Amazon: if you rank high, they jump in with their own promotion and then, well, watch out Tanya Anne Crosby (current holder of position one in the historical fiction e-books category)!