Permafree in the Children's Book Market

Permafree is a common term in the indie author world. Many authors will vouch for the strategy. The strategy is to set the first book in a series free (ebook formats only of course) to encourage new readers to try the book. The theory is the reader will like the book and be willing to pay for the rest of the series. Many independent authors have had tremendous success with this strategy. However, most of these authors are also writing adult or young adult fiction, not kids' books. The children's book market is a bit different and its transition to ebooks has been much slower. But there is evidence that more and more kids are reading on iPads and Kindles. With all this is mind, I decided to try permafree for my children's chapter book series. I had three books out, and I wanted to try something to spur some sales.

In the beginning of November, I set the first book in The Adventures of Zelda series free in ebook format on all platforms. I spread the word via social media, and I also had my friend Chubbs the Wampug tell her followers. (Chubbs is a pug celebrity) Since then, I haven't done any other advertising.

After almost three months of permafree, The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale hovers around number 5,000 in the Kindle Free Charts with some spikes. Those spikes are usually around 150 free downloads in one day. Otherwise, my downloads range from 10-50 on a typical day in the Amazon Kindle Store.

In December, I saw record number of paperback sales for the Zelda series as a whole, selling over 100 books. November was strong for paperback sales as well. To date in January, ebook sales for the second and third book of the Zelda sales have risen to their best month with a week left still in the month. I'm selling a few copies of the second and third book each day in the Kindle store.

The other platforms are not doing much for me. Apple's iBooks is the only store that moves copies. Usually, I have about 5 free downloads a day of the first Zelda book with a few sales here and there for the second and third Zelda books. Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc aren't moving any books most days.

It's hard to know exactly what spurned my jump in sales, but I'm sure permafree was a big component. Going permafree made Zelda start appearing in also boughts on Amazon all over the place. It kept me at the top of the free kids' pet books charts. I'm happy with the results so far.

I realize my numbers aren't huge. I realize I'm not making thousands of dollars, but in a very tough children's ebook market, I'm happy with the growth. I'm happy that kids and parents are enjoying the series and continuing with it past book one. I'm also happy with the results because I haven't paid a dime for any advertising yet. That's the next step. And writing book four!

Are there any other children's book or middle grade authors out there? Any success with permafree?

Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation Review

IMG_0444 I have had my eye on the Kindle Paperwhite since they announced the first version a year or so ago. I bought a second generation kindle a few years ago- one with a keyboard, no touch screen or backlight. I read on it quite a bit, but I switched to reading on my iPad so I could read in bed while the hubby is sleeping. A few months ago, I sold my iPad because I wanted less gadgets in my life and I was back to the kindle for reading. I found I missed the touch screen greatly when I wanted to highlight a passage in a book. And of course, I missed the backlit screen at night. Knowing I read everyday, I decided my next gadget purchase would be a Paperwhite. I was fortunate enough to receive some Amazon gift cards this Christmas and I didn’t hesitate. I ordered the Paperwhite, along with a case.

After a few weeks of reading, I love the Paperwhite. It’s not a perfect device, but for a big reader like me, it’s great. I love the touch screen. It is responsive and quick. I can highlight passages with ease and look back through them at the end of the book. I also find it simple to navigate and use. It’s easy to turn the backlight on and off and adjust the font size, spacing, etc. I can also organize my books with ease into collections (which I need to do). The best part is I don’t have to find room on a bookshelf to store all these books I read!

The ability to adjust the brightness of the screen is also a positive. I usually read with the screen at a darker setting. I like reading on the darker setting. It’s not as harsh on the eyes. But even on the brightest setting, the paperwhite is much better for reading than any tablet screen (at least right now). I do have to say the paperwhite screen didn’t meet all of my expectations. It’s not perfect yet, Amazon and the e-ink technology still has room to improve to mimic a paperback book.

The battery life is also superb. I charged it when I got it on New Year’s Eve. I haven’t charged it yet and the battery gauge is half full. I love a device I don’t have to charge every night!

Finally, I did get the version with ads. They don’t really bug me and I can always fork over another $20 at any time to stop them. But at the moment I see no need.

Overall, if you are an avid reader, the Kindle Paperwhite is worth the $120.

Side note, I picked up a Finite Folio Case. It’s great and only costs $15 as opposed to the Amazon case which is $40. The case wakes or puts the Kindle to sleep and gives plenty of protection.

Do you have a kindle or e-reader? Why or why not?