It’s been a while since I made the e-book of “Fatal Forgery” permafree on all sales platforms, and I have run a couple of promos to highlight it to people. It’s too early to tell whether it is the right decision – i.e. whether it introduces more people to the Sam series and they then turn into buyers of the subsequent books – but I have got over my horror of giving away my work! It’s a tricky one, because it’s certainly true that people often don’t value what costs nothing, but with the series stagnating I felt I had to do something drastic. After all, we all know that one definition of madness (sometimes, but perhaps wrongly, attributed to Einstein) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So how’s it going? Since it was made permafree, there have been 2,356 downloads of “Fatal Forgery”. On Amazon (the only place I can track this with any certainty), the number of reviews has risen by one (to 48), and the number of ratings by 21 (to 70). (A rating is a simple 1-5-star score, while a review is anything written. Readers can leave just a rating, or a rating and accompanying review.) And according to the Amazon sales rankings in the UK, “Fatal Forgery” now sits at position 88 in the Historical Fiction category in the Kindle store, and at position 138 in the broader Crime Fiction category. I’m delighted with both of those positions – apparently the fact that a book is free does not count against it when Amazon tots up which books are “selling” most frequently.
There are people who make a living from teaching us how the Amazon algorithms work, but the nub of it is that if a book (a) “sells” well, and (b) gets lots of generally favourable reviews, it will rise up the rankings. This means that it appears higher up when people are searching, and (I think) has a better chance of being shown to them in the “Products related to this item” carousel that is displayed on each product page. And the net result of all that is that more people see and are then tempted to download the book.
So if you have read “Fatal Forgery” – no matter where you bought it or in what format – and have not left a rating or review on Amazon, please could I ask you to do that? Amazon does occasionally move the goalposts, but at the moment the situation is very clear: “Provided the buyer has made at least one purchase using their Amazon account they can review any product on Amazon, regardless of where they purchased that product. However, if a reviewer did not buy the product on Amazon, their review will not be marked as an Amazon Verified Purchase.” (The same applies to all my books, of course – please feel free to rate them all!) And now I must immerse myself in the Cambridge University audit books from 1825 – this sorry tale of bursarial corruption won’t write itself, you know.