For the last two years, I’ve written a free GHOSTS short story and given it away for Christmas to my newsletter subscribers.
This year, though, I’m not doing that.
Instead, I’m writing a short GHOSTS novel, BLADE OF THE GHOSTS, and giving it away for free to newsletter subscribers when CLOAK GAMES: REBEL FIST comes out next month. It will be set between the events of CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and GHOST IN THE FLAMES. Newsletter subscribers will be able to get it for free via Smashwords coupon code for two weeks, and then it will go onto Kindle Unlimited.
(That’s the short news. A longer explanation is below, complete with a digression on the business of self-publishing.)
For a long time now, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS has been free on Amazon and everywhere else. The marketing idea behind it is people download the first book, read it, and like it enough to move on to the other 15 books in the series. (Doing so is commonly called a “permafree” book.) This has worked out pretty well, and I bet a lot of you reading this got into THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE because you read CHILD OF THE GHOSTS for free. Thanks for coming along this far!
That said, free books have gradually been becoming less effective on Amazon. They’re not ineffective for marketing purposes by any means, but less effective than they used to be. Part of this is the gradual maturing of the ebook market, but a big part is that Amazon has been deemphasizing free books in favor of Kindle Unlimited.
The downside of Kindle Unlimited is that a book in KU can’t be on any other ebook vendor – no iTunes or Google Play or Kobo. I seriously considered putting the first nine books of THE GHOSTS (CHILD OF THE GHOSTS through GHOST IN THE SURGE) in Kindle Unlimited for Christmas, but decided against it since the series has been doing well on Kobo and iTunes lately. Amazon might have been deemphasizing free books in favor of Kindle Unlimited, but free books still work pretty well on Barnes & Noble and Kobo and iTunes and Google Play.
So that is the crux of the dilemma – put books in KU in favor of greater Amazon visibility and lose out on sales on other platforms, or keep the books available on other platforms and be at a disadvantage against other books in KU. (As of this writing, GHOST IN THE THRONE is #1 in its category on Amazon US, but of the top 20 books in that category, 11 of them are KU books.)
Therefore I decided to split the difference and write BLADE OF THE GHOSTS. Since it’s set between CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and GHOST IN THE FLAMES, it will be an excellent place to start the series. I can put BLADE OF THE GHOSTS in KU and use it to promote, while leaving all my existing books available on all the other ebook platforms.
It will be an interesting experiment. And if it doesn’t work, no harm done: after three months I can always put BLADE OF THE GHOSTS on all ebook platforms! Subscribers to my new-release newsletter will get the book for free no matter what, so be sure to subscribe now.