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September 13, 2012


Dan Luft

I would like to add to your data. I get a daily email of free books on kindle from the site ereaderiq.com. This email also allows me to filter the list by how long the books have been free. I can choose, all, the ones offered and still free from the past week, the last 24 hours or my last visit.

After looking at the emails for the first few days I have almost always clicked on the last 24 hours. I check it every day but sometimes forget or don't have time. But I still usually click on the last 24 hours. I would only click since my last visit but I'm checking my email on more than one computer.

If I am on the fence about a book, I sometimes go back and get it the next day but I rarely do that. I have downloaded about three years of free or nearly free reading since Christmas, as well as books I've purchased at full price. So if I miss something that I was on the fence about, well, I was on the fence anyway. No big loss. And if something is free once, it may be free again.

So I imagine my downloading habits are not atypical and that the first day of a free give away will be the strongest.


Thanks for the feedback, Dan! If I do another Amazon giveaway promotion -- and I'm not sure if I will -- I'll definitely keep it to one or two days. I have to admit it's a little scary hearing that you have three years worth of reading material already stored away. That's what writers have to compete with now. There's so much free material swirling around, how do you convince people to give you money for some?


Thanks for the freebie, Steve. When I've read it, I'll talk it up somewhere online.

Greg Daniel

Hey Steve ... I don't have any hard data to back this up, but based on reading too many writer blogs and listening to too many writer podcasts and downloading too many free ebooks, it seems to me the real value in the free ebook is in how it impacts the sales of your other books. And for that to happen there needs to be a number (at least 3) of similar books with preferably a new book on the horizon. As a Hockensmithian example, I would be curious to see how a free Dear Mr, Holmes would impact the sales of a new Big Red/Old Red novel (as well as the existing titles).


I'm an old fashioned paper book reader myself. I'm in the middle of Cadaver In Chief. I'm not on Facebook nor do I Tweet, but I did try to get the word out about the book at least on the last day. I was watching a live webcast of the Photoshop User show The Grid and shouted out the free book on the live chat box during the show and got at least one response saying the person would check out the book. Hopefully that will put us closer to a new Holmes story.

Dan Luft

Funny you should mention the competition for free books. When I got my first reader I thought "Great. No reason to ever hoard again and I can buy what I want to read when I want to read it. Not months in advance because I happen to see it." A year later I began to notice deep discounts and free books. Free books are nothing anyone ever asked for nor does anyone think he deserves them. Yet there are free books. It's like recycling day the week after your neighbor moves. They are just there and who wouldn't browse?


Thanks for the comments and the support, everybody! It's all much appreciated!

Greg -- I've heard the same thing about freebies: They're a good way to promote a series. Seems logical. It's hard to get people to commit to something new, but if you give them something for free and they like it they're going to want MOS (More Of Same). That's definitely something I'm going to keep in mind when (notice I didn't say "if," Jan!) I get around to relaunching the Holmes on the Range series.

I've been pretty good about not loading up my Kindle with freebies, Dan, but I can understand the temptation. I still have an actual, physical To Be Read pile that's literally as tall as me, so I didn't need *another* bunch of books to feel guilty about not reading....


Dear Mr Hockensmith,

I wanted to give you some uplifting news, but this is the best I have (for now anyway). I'm sorry you're dismayed that the free eBook giveaway for Cadaver in Chief resulted in not-as-many downloads on subsequent days of the promotion.

However, as you've stated, you reached 2500 new readers which is certainly great. But I wanted to add more unseen numbers to your readership base. I'm sure you have data on the number of people who subscribe to your blog, purchase your eBooks, purchase your print books, etc., all of which represent your readers.

However, there are people (like me for example) who do not exist in your data because I haven't subscribed to your blog or newsletters (if you have such subscriptions), and I haven't purchased your books, and I haven't purchased your eBooks (I know all this sounds disheartening, but follow my line of thought, I promise it's a little less disheartening).

I've been a fan of the Holmes on the Range stories, as I was a reader of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. When I found out there were novels based on Old Red and Big Red, I meant to go out and get the books . . . but you know, time goes by, and life gets busy, and as of yet, I still haven't bought them.

That's not to say that I'm still not interested in buying them. I just haven't, yet. But even with me NOT buying any of your work, you still made a sale based on me, your invisible reader.

When my wife and I were at the airport and she wanted to buy a book, she picked up Dreadfully Ever After, and asked, "You think this is any good?" I looked at the cover and was surprised to see "Steve Hockensmith" as the author. I recommended that my wife (who has an interest in zombies) read Hockensmith's take on it, based on my enjoyment of your short stories in EQMM (a different genre altogether).

Did my wife like your work? Well, she was among those who downloaded Cadaver in Chief, to get more Hockensmith.

How do you think this makes me feel? I was your fan, your reader, while my wife never knew the name Hockensmith. Now, she has already read TWO of your novels, while I have read none.

How does this happen? Well, in addition to authors having to hawk their wares via promotion, blogs, emails, etc., there is one thing a good author is able to do, which is to write a good story. And you, Hockensmith, can write good stories. It's the reason why I occasionally visit your blog, and haven't forgotten your name, even though I haven't contributed to your sales (yet. okay, I promise to buy something soon!). It's why the reputation of a good writer/storyteller has more influence than any promotion.

My wife is a part of your data, while I remain invisible.

The numbers don't illuminate the bigger fan base that actually exists.

So hopefully, this cheers you up a bit, Mr Hockensmith.

Until I actually buy one of your books, I shall remain, faithfully,

---Your Invisible Reader


I appreciate the encouragement, Y.I.R. You're right -- it's nice to know that there's a good reputation out there, even if it's not always reflected in my sales. Maybe that'll pay off down the line...or maybe I'll just have to accept that doing good work is its own reward (and one that doesn't pay bills).

And speaking of bill-paying, I'd better get back to work. (I've got an assignment I'm not super-thrilled with, so I've been procrastinating like crazy this morning.) Thanks for dropping your cloak of invisibility (at least a little) and offering some positive feedback!

Kevin Bates

Hi Steve, I am an enormous fan of Old Red and Big Red and hope to read many more of their exploits. Have you considered doing a book tour? I live near one of the flagship bookstores as far as book signings go. It is called Books and Company here in the suburbs of Dayton Ohio. The contact persons name is Sharon Kelly Roth. Visit your relatives in Louisville. Its only about a two and a half hour drive. Heck, you can sleep on our couch! I'm sure you would be a big hit and maybe move a lot of product(bring a couple of cartons of Dear Mr. Holmes).


Hey, Kevin! Thanks for suggesting a visit to Books and Company. I don't have any plans to hit the road at the moment, though. I've got young kids, it's hard to justify the time and expense of a tour, I'm not sure when my next book will be out, etc. etc. There is a remote chance I'll tour in a year or so, but everything's so up in the air it may as well be in orbit! If something does come together, you'll read it here first....

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