This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Who Buys a Book at 3 a.m.?

            For Mother’s Day, I tried something different in the way of a book promotion for my mystery novel, The McHenry Inheritance, and I’m still scratching my head.
            Up to this point, I had done one-day promotions on Kindle, where people could download the book free for 24 hours. I figured that on Mother’s Day, there would be a lot of mystery readers getting Kindles or iPads and looking for a cheap or free book to test the device. It also occurred to me that there would be some of that activity going on the following day as well, so I scheduled a two-day promotion, Sunday and Monday.
            The results were reasonably good, though far from my personal best. Over the two days, 248 people downloaded the book, a large enough number to drive it up to number 51 on the Kindle free-mystery list by Monday night. But there was a number within those numbers that boggled my mind.

When the Night Owls Shop

            During a free-promotion day, I check the numbers every few hours to see how things are going, and sometimes do an update on Twitter to generate a bit of publicity. The last check on Sunday was at 10 p.m., when 99 books had been downloaded.
            Monday morning I rose bright and early, and at 6 a.m., when I had a cup of coffee in hand, looked at the numbers again. Total downloads were up to 120, which means that 21 people acquired the book in the wee small hours. It was after midnight on the East Coast when I last checked, with a work day coming up, and pretty much bedtime for most people on the West Coast as well. Moving a few books during that period wouldn’t surprise me, but the 21 sales were two or three times what I would have predicted, especially given the previous day’s volume.
            I suppose it’s possible that some readers from the UK, Australia or New Zealand picked up the book then, but that seems unlikely. It hasn’t been moving well in those countries to date, and it’s weird that it would start now. I’m at a loss to explain this.

Insomniacs with Kindle Accounts

            Certainly one can imagine a situation where someone unable to sleep would get out of bed, turn on the computer, and start looking at free books on Amazon. But how many such people can there be in any given night, and what are the odds of more than two or three of them finding my book and deciding to get it?
            Monday night I checked the free sales at 10 p.m. Pacific Time, then looked again Tuesday to see what the final number was for the two-day sale, which ended at midnight. Ten books were sold in the last two hours, which would suggest that perhaps there are a few people in the Pacific Time zone (and perhaps elsewhere) who stay up late and go to Amazon before turning in. Then again, maybe there were a lot of bored night watchmen surfing their iPads for something to read.
            Impossible to guess, but whatever the reason, one point becomes utterly clear. In the digital world, where almost anything is available at any time, there’s apt to be a buyer (or two or three) out there for almost anything you want to sell almost any time you want to sell it. For a first-time author like me, who can’t afford to miss out on a single sale, it’s reassuring to know that the store is always open.