Monday, 2 September 2013

Something out of nothing

"The best things in life are free - but you can save them for the birds and bees"

So sang "M" on her 1979 hit single. Presumably she was talking about sex here, quite racy for 1979. But to be fair, whoever coined the phrase "There's no such thing as a free lunch" had it right.

Let's be honest. Everything has a hidden cost. Since we were talking about sex, I may as well continue on that subject. As this is normally a "family blog" you might have to look away now if you are under, say 15.

As you know I like to find mathematical solutions for explaining everything, and sex is no different. To prove my point that sex is not free, you do have to in fact be a parent, it kinds of falls down if you aren't but bear with me.

I worked out that you can work out exactly how much sex has cost you if you are a parent, by following this simple formula. The first bit is easy. Write down how many kids you have got. Most people should be able to manage this (exclude any dubious - "I wonder if I could be the father of..." ones and stick to the official stats. Once you have got this, try and work out the amount of money that each child you have has cost you. That's everything i.e. nappies, food, extra seats on aeroplanes, entrance to theme parks, clothes, I could continue indefinitely here, but you get the idea.

Next make a rough estimate of how many times you have ever had sex. If this is difficult, count back the number of years since you started, work out the average number of times you have sex a week, multiply that by 52 and then multiply if by the number of years you have been at it.

NB: You may need to make some adjustments here to take into account peaks and troughs over the years. For example that six month period in your mid 20s when you split up with your girlfriend and you were a miserable sod and no-one would touch you with a bargepole. Or that halcyon period after you got divorced and went to work in Ibiza for the summer and couldn't beat them off with a shitty stick.

Once you have worked all that out you have the total number of shags and the total amount of cash spent on your children. By dividing one into the other you can then come out with an average amount of cash that your shags have cost you since you started. Mine came out at about a tenner.

NB: Don't include any "solo" activity as this will drag down your average amount quite considerably. A tenner sounds quite good, £3.50 doesn't.

So - is there a point to all of this? Of course! Basically, everyone wants something for free these days, and this has been more than aptly demonstrated by my experiences of attempting to sell books on Amazon. That is Kindle books to be precise.

Amazon offer you the chance to give your book away for free for 5 days in every 90 day period. Why would you want to do that? Well it gives your book exposure and the hope that people who get it for free will like it and give it a good review and also buy your other books.

My experience of this has not been great up until this point, however today I started a 5 day solid block promotion of my first book "Fortysomething Father".

I did nothing whatsoever to promote this, just set it to free and looked to see what happened. Previously I had tweeted and facebooked it all over the place, but I have come to the conclusion that this achieves diddly squat. In fact, I think it just annoys people and you don't get any extra sales.

The last time I put Fortysomething Father on a 3 day freebie, it achieved 75 free downloads in the UK in 3 days. There were some in other countries, but I will stick with the UK for my example as that is my primary market. Since then - in the month of August it sold just 4 copies in its own right (a far cry from the heyday of June when 122 copies were sold).

However despite no promotion whatsoever, 62 copies have been downloaded for free today alone, which makes me really think that people do want something for nothing and are very reluctant to pay anything for a Kindle book, even 99p. Clearly people do find my book on Amazon, it cannot be invisible, else where did those 62 come from? I can only conclude that the VAST majority of Amazon Kindle punters these days want their wares for free.

So can I achieve fame by giving it away? Maybe. I am riding high in the "Free" charts on Amazon, but once the 5 days ends, I'll disappear back into obscurity. However, there are some positives to cling to. My second book, Austerity Dad has sold 2 copies today - 2 more than it has sold in the whole of the past week, so maybe the freebie thing is helping. The new book is struggling to get noticed, only one review so far (as opposed to 15 for the first book) but the increased exposure to the first may help the second to get established.

Sales and take-up of the second book have been slower, but I am confident that it will pick up in time, because the second book is so much better than the first. Much of the criticism levelled by reviewers of my first book has been addressed in the second, and I believe it to be a much more polished product.

So we shall see how we go - oh and finally, I should be in the Oxford Mail on Thursday, should you wish to pick up a copy.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

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