My new short story, “Charred Wheat,” was available as a free download for five days recently. I did this to gain a bit more exposure and hopefully get a few sales of my first book, Unity Alpha. So, how did it go?
While it’s obviously a bit early to draw any real conclusions, I do think it was worth doing. I had over 300 downloads of the story over the five day period, and at one point, it was #39 on the top 100 free book list in the Science Fiction category. That was really cool, and I wish I had taken a screenshot of the page to save and share here.
As far as sales, I did sell two copies of Unity Alpha during the promotion period. Not a huge bump in sales, but every little bit helps, and there are now over 300 people who have at least downloaded something written by me. Who knows, maybe more of them will like what they read and take a chance on my book. Also, I think I’ve actually sold a couple of copies of “Charred Wheat” since the promotion ended (I’m not positive because I don’t remember the exact number of downloads I ended up with in each market).
So, will I do this again with other stories or books? Probably. If I do, though, I think I won’t use all 5 allotted promotion days in one shot; I’ll probably spread them out in one or two day increments. I did notice that the rate of downloads dropped significantly after the first two days, so keeping it free for five consecutive days most likely wasn’t worthwhile.
Cover for "Charred Wheat" short story
So, back in August, in between finishing the first draft of Unity Alpha and starting on revisions, I took time out to write a short story, called “Charred Wheat.” I wanted to keep writing, but wanted to do something different, just to clear my head. I came up with something I liked, and even submitted it to a couple of science fiction magazines. It didn’t sell, which didn’t really surprise me. The major magazines get tons of submissions and are very picky about what they buy.
Recently, Amazon intoduced of the “KDP Select” program, which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow Kindle books for free, and pays authors based on the number of times their books are borrowed. This intrigued me, but one of the requirements was that any title enrolled in that program had to be exclusive to Amazon. I didn’t want to take Unity Alpha out of the other sales channels, even though most of the (admittedly few) sales I’ve had have been on Kindle. So, I decided to format my short story for the Kindle and make it available as part of KDP Select.
Now, I’m not giving this story away for free; I’m charging $0.99 for it. However, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can borrow it for free. I doubt I’ll get much, if any, money for this, since I believe it has to be borrowed quite a few times before it qualifies for any kind of payout. But, I’m using this more as promotion for Unity Alpha. I figure if I can even get a few people to borrow my short story, then get interested in my book, I might get some sales that way. To further that, the short story includes the prologue and the first two chapters of Unity Alpha at the end of the document.
You can find links to purchase “Charred Wheat” on this page, or in the menu on the left or at the top of the page.
Last night, I had my wife read through my first completed short story and review it. She found a few things, which I fixed. A couple of them would have been embarrassing to have left in, so I really owe her for finding them. Over all, she liked the story, so this morning, I reformatted it to match the submission guidelines of most of the science fiction magazines, and submitted it to one of them.
The average response time is five weeks, so it will most likely be some time before I heard anything one way or the other. I’m honestly not expecting to sell my story on my first try, but I’m happy with the story, and I do think I have at least some chance of getting it published somewhere. I submitted to my first choice, but there are plenty of other markets I can try if I don’t succeed here.
So in an earlier post, I mentioned I would probably write some short stories before I started on the second draft of my novel. Shortly after finishing the novel, I sat down and brainstormed half a dozen ideas for stories. I picked one, and started writing.
About 1,400 words in, I decided it wasn’t working. But that’s OK; I’d rather find out sooner than later. So I abandoned that story (for now at least) and started another one. This second one really spoke to me, and I wrote 7,000 words in the space of three days. Pretty good for part-time writing.
I’ll still need to revise it, but overall, I’m pretty happy with it. I decided to write it in first person point of view, rather than third person, which is what I wrote my novel in. I mainly did it for a change, but I think I like writing like that. It gave the narrative a more lively feel, and let me expose the thoughts of the narrator more readily.
Anyway, at this point, I’ll probably take a break from all writing for a couple of days, then start revising this story. I think it has real potential, and assuming I can get something good out of if in the revision process, I will probably try submitting it for publication.