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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband tracks my sales numbers, and he sent this to me this morning for fun.  I thought I'd share, since I get questions a lot about whether perma-free works.

I have a series called War of the Fae (WOTF) which is 4 books, and then an add-on series called Clash of the Otherworlds (COTO), which is 3 books.  They have all been out about a year now, some of them more than a year.  My first book in the series was published in February 2012.

I would say *most* readers realize there are 7 books in the series, but not all of them do because the series names are different (as a result of me extending the story due to reader requests).  I get emails all the time from people who finish book 4 of WOTF and then ask if there's anything else of mine they can read.  I'm still a little confused about people who skip front and back matter and don't bother to read websites before emailing, but whatever.  The point in me giving this detail is I think a very small percentage of people never see COTO, so that makes the numbers even more compelling.

Here are my perma-free results for WOTF and COTO over the past 6 months (which includes those slow summer months):

25% who download WOTF Book 1 free read WOTF Book 2
86% of those who read WOTF Book 2 finish the WOTF series
79% of those who finish WOTF go on to COTO
53% of those who read  WOTF Book 2 read all 7 (both series)

Total earnings for 6 months:  $47,271
Free downloads: 11,421
Earnings per FREE download $4.14

Before we went perma-free with book 1, sales were okay but had started to languish.  KDP Select wasn't working for Book 1 anymore because 5 free days over that 90-day period just weren't enough.  Sales increased almost immediately after the book went perma-free, within a couple weeks we really saw a difference.

I have a post-apocalyptic series with 4 books that I'm probably going to do the same thing with.  Perma-free is working for me and I'm glad I did it.
 

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This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing! I think it really speaks to the fact that you've crafted a compelling story that readers remember - and come back for more of. :) Which seems key in making permafree work. It's not enough just to have the book be free, it's got to be great to do its job as a loss leader. All the parts have to be there, and (subjectively) that's not always the case. A lot of times, permafree titles I've downloaded are OK or good, but not quite compelling enough for me to go back for more.

The earnings per free download is fascinating! Again, thanks for sharing, Elle!
 
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Perma-free is an option that seems to have worked for you.  It doesn't work for everyone and many argue vociferously against it, but when I see something like $47,000 I take notice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DianaGabriel said:
This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing! I think it really speaks to the fact that you've crafted a compelling story that readers remember - and come back for more of. :) Which seems key in making permafree work. It's not enough just to have the book be free, it's got to be great to do its job as a loss leader. All the parts have to be there, and (subjectively) that's not always the case. A lot of times, permafree titles I've downloaded are OK or good, but not quite compelling enough for me to go back for more.

The earnings per free download is fascinating! Again, thanks for sharing, Elle!
Glad you found it worthwhile. I really should be writing a book right now. :)
 

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Thank you for posting your results! I just released the second book in my YA Fae series and have been trying to decide whether to go perma-free before Christmas or wait until my trilogy is complete (probably next summer.)
Posting such specific sales info really helps sway me in the perma-free direction. If my follow-through sales were even half of yours on the second book, I would still be doing exponentially better than I am now. Your posts are always so helpful, Elle.  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Anna K said:
Thank you for posting your results! I just released the second book in my YA Fae series and have been trying to decide whether to go perma-free before Christmas or wait until my trilogy is complete (probably next summer.)
Posting such specific sales info really helps sway me in the perma-free direction. If my follow-through sales were even half of yours on the second book, I would still be doing exponentially better than I am now. Your posts are always so helpful, Elle. :)
Glad you enjoyed the post. I don't know if it should have any bearing on your decision, but I didn't go perma free until March of this year, so I let the series ride for almost a year before doing this, and it wasn't until the series was done. I didn't see the value in doing it while I had decent sales. It's only when they dropped off and KDP wasn't working anymore that I considered it
 

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Thanks Elle. That's an astounding conversion rate from book 2. If only you had a way of contacting the 75% of readers who deserted after book 1 to see if you could get some idea why they didn't continue. There just might be something you could change there that would keep your current and fans and hold considerably more from the deserters. If you could even double that book 1 conversion rate, you know that once you get them to book 2 it's job done with a big impact on your bottom line.

Good luck with it all

Joe
 

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Steeplechasing said:
Thanks Elle. That's an astounding conversion rate from book 2. If only you had a way of contacting the 75% of readers who deserted after book 1 to see if you could get some idea why they didn't continue.
A great many of the free books that are downloaded are never read. So it's not correct to assume that those who download a free book are a reader of that book.
 

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David J Normoyle said:
A great many of the free books that are downloaded are never read. So it's not correct to assume that those who download a free book are a reader of that book.
I would love to know what the percent is. Many will never read the book I realize that and some might not read it for six months.
 

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'Oh, an Elle thread; MUST READ'.

Thanks for the numbers, Elle. Thanks an amazing conversion rate from your perma - 25%! Though, having read them, I know why. It's cliff-hanger central, but not in an annoying or frustrating way.

I get a MUCH higher conversion rate from book 2 and onwards, so it's good to see your results are similar. Way to go!

Geoff
 

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So cool to see this in real dollars numbers :). Thanks for sharing.

I've been thinking about going Permafree for Book 1 of my SEAL series because Select's payoff has been so horrible. You might have pushed me in that direction a little more!
 

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Gennita Low said:
So cool to see this in real dollars numbers :). Thanks for sharing.

I've been thinking about going Permafree for Book 1 of my SEAL series because Select's payoff has been so horrible. You might have pushed me in that direction a little more!
Do it! Put your books up everywhere and go perma-free on Book 1 (SEALs). And remember, permanent isn't permanent. If it doesn't work out, perma-free can become tempa-free and you can go back to selling at regular prices! I suspect if you're actually selling copies of Book 2, 3, etc. then it shows that readers like your writing, and if you can massively increase the number of people reading book 1 then going perma-free and selling on a bunch of platforms will massively boost sales on the other books in the series and be the best thing you ever did! I'm currently thinking that Select can be okay for getting some kind of initial audience, but once you've got an audience, and fans etc. get on as many platforms as possible. Those readers talk, and a lot of their Goodreads friends or other online friends are buying only on iPad or Kobo or iPhone or something. You're on their radar but they're waiting for you to show up in their 'regular' stores...

I'd like to hear whether platforms other than Amazon are big sellers for the further books in the series(e)s Elle has the perma-free anchoring =)
 

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Perma free is working for my books too. I still have two books to release and will be doing an off shoot sometime in the future. I think I'll keep it under the same series name learnign from your example.
 
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