Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free For A Very Limited Time

I've waxed enthusiastic about the wonders of self-publishing in the digital age, but there are times -- thankfully not too many of them -- when the process can be frustrating. When you self-publish you're a one man band, playing all the instruments, singing the songs, putting up the posters and paying the bills. Sometimes it seems like you could spend so much time on the administrative jobs that you'd have no time to write. When you're that busy and your attention is so split up, that's when mistakes can happen.
One just happened to me. Yesterday I happened to check the Amazon sales figures for my ebooks, and I noticed that my "Rose Of Skibbereen" novel had a ton of downloads. Normally that would be a good thing, but these downloads were in the "Free Price Match" column. I surfed over to the Amazon listing for my book and sure enough, the price was reduced from $4.99 to free. So, I Googled "Rose Of Skibbereen" and clicked on all the online book retailers who had my book listed. Lo and behold, I found that Sony had my book listed for free. Amazon automatically matches the lowest price it finds online for a book, so it was obvious that Sony's free listing was what triggered the Amazon price match.
What to do? I contacted Smashwords, which handles distribution for retailers like Sony, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, and asked them what was going on. I had to wait almost 24 hours, during which time hundreds of my ebooks were downloaded for free, before the Smashwords rep got back to me and said he would contact Sony. As of right now, which is 3:34 Eastern time on May 8, 2013, my book is still free on Sony and Amazon. Whenever Sony puts the correct price on my ebook, Amazon will match it and I can once again get paid for my creative efforts.
I don't know how this happened, unless it's that I published a short version of "Rose Of Skibbereen" containing only the first three chapters, and it's free. I did that to stimulate interest in the longer version. Maybe Sony got them mixed up, I don't know, but the bottom line is that it's cost me sales. So far I haven't gotten an explanation from Smashwords. I've generally had a positive experience publishing on Smashwords, but this is definitely not one of my favorite moments. I guess it comes with the territory if you're self-publishing, though. You just have to stay on top of every aspect of the process, or something like this can happen.
So, folks, until this gets straightened out you can download a copy of "Rose Of Skibbereen" for free and there's nothing I can do to stop that. I'll chalk it up to the cost of doing business, but maybe you could do me a favor. If you do download the novel for free, could you write a review and post it on Amazon or Smashwords? It doesn't matter if it's positive or negative, any review will do.
It would make this indie author very happy.