One of the things I appreciate most about indie authors is their willingness to share data on what they’ve tried, helping other authors decide if it makes sense for them. In that spirit…
This year (2014), I self-published three books on NoiseTrade, a site mostly known for indie music but which also provides free downloads of books. As the publishing industry continues to evolve, it seemed to make good sense to experiment with a relatively new service.
The only “catch” to downloading free books and music from NoiseTrade is that you have to provide a working email address in order to complete the download — which of course allows the author or musician to add you to his or her mailing list.
(The site also encourages people to tip the authors and musicians. One source of NoiseTrade’s revenue is that they keep a percentage of those tips. For my projects, I focused much more on downloads than tips.)
The first book I published on NoiseTrade was FORTUNE, a comic book I scripted with art by the amazing Dillon Samuelson.
We published FORTUNE on Sept. 24, and announced it ourselves via social media, this blog — very basic kinds of things. At the time, I had no email list to speak of.
Over the first week, FORTUNE was downloaded 64 times, including 23 downloads on the first day. Small numbers, to be sure, but Dillon and I were thrilled.
NoiseTrade emailed me asking if we wanted to participate in its “New & Notable” program. (On the NoiseTrade Books homepage, a section near the top is called “New & Notable” — people pay to be included there. People pay more to be included in the very top slider image bar.) The email indicated that the normal price for New & Notable is $250 to be included on the website and in the NoiseTrade email newsletter, which they said was being sent to more than 125,000 people. We were offered a rate of $125 because we were new to NoiseTrade and we were indie authors.
We splurged, spent the $125, and were featured in the newsletter on Oct. 1. That day, 51 people downloaded FORTUNE. Over the next week, another 53 people downloaded the comic — a total of 104 downloads, the vast majority of which I attribute to the “New & Notable” promotion.
So over the first two weeks, we had 168 downloads. Since then, the numbers have been modest — mostly ranging from 0 to 2 downloads a day. Altogether, FORTUNE has been downloaded 226 times and we’ve received $39.15 in tips.
FORTUNE is also available in print and digital at IndyPlanet, and it should be available soon on Comixology.
The second publication was actually a short story: ALL ALONE.
It first appeared in Shotgun Honey Reloaded: Both Barrels, Vol. 2, and I thought it was a perfect story for Dillon to create some pulp-inspired artwork. Boy, was I right on that front. Dillon’s cover art (an homage to the classic Black Mask pulp magazine) is superb.
ALL ALONE, published on Nov. 3, didn’t benefit from any paid promotion. To date, it’s been downloaded 44 times (with $0.45 in tips) — a number I’m satisfied with, but not thrilled by. But I also had more than 100 copies of ALL ALONE printed to give away at Noir at the Bar Philadelphia, NoirCon, and Bouchercon, so in this case the downloads are only part of the tale.
Finally, I published CRIMINAL WORDS, an audiobook of 14 short stories by eight authors: Joe Clifford, Jen Conley, David Cranmer (as Edward A. Grainger), Chris Holm, Christopher Irvin, Tom Pitts, Steve Weddle, and me. Public radio veteran Scott Detrow read the stories.
CRIMINAL WORDS is essentially a compilation of the first year of the Title 18: Word Crimes podcast. We put every story Scott read on the book, hoping to introduce some new people to both the featured authors and the podcast itself.
We had no idea what to expect with CRIMINAL WORDS. After all, episodes of the podcast have already been downloaded more than 2,000 times. But it didn’t require a massive investment of time or effort, so we gave it a go. The audiobook was published on Dec. 8, and so far it’s been downloaded 40 times (with $2.40 in tips).
All told, that’s 310 downloads via NoiseTrade — which means 310 email addresses for my mailing list.
After subtracting out duplicates (those who downloaded more than one of these books) and people who have unsubscribed, my email list now stands at 237 subscribers and grows by about one per day.
Pre-NoiseTrade, my email list included just six subscribers. Overall, for me, the NoiseTrade experiment has been a success. Not a wild success, but a success.
If you have any questions I didn’t answer in this post, please leave them in the comments below or catch me on Twitter.