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Smashwords > Downloads...What's Normal?

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message 1: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) So I just published two free short stories on smashwords and started seeing downloads trickle in...and one review (thank you very much!).

But I can only see the download count for my own work and I have no clue if the number of downloads I'm seeing is typical or low or high.

So what's your experience? If you publish something free, and have no real name recognition, how do you judge the performance of the work?


message 2: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 1405 comments As discussed on another thread, it's common for a free story to have several downloads and few (if any) reviews, but how many of each you'll get varies. In short, there's no one right answer to your question. There's not a "normal" download rate, nor an average download to review ratio. In all honesty, all you can do is make your work as good as you possibly can, and hope for the best.


message 3: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) Yeah I'm sure it varies a lot.

I wasn't expecting to see a lot honestly. Was shocked when I got a review in less than 2 hours of the first one going up. And it wasn't anyone I knew because I hadn't told anyone I was going to publish there.

I'm used to the amazon model where you don't know how many views you're getting and you sell almost nothing and get even fewer reviews.

It's showing 75 and 80 downloads for them right now. They were published Saturday afternoon. I realize that doesn't mean they've been read.


message 4: by Victoria (last edited Jul 28, 2014 03:06PM) (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 1405 comments My short story that's free has been downloaded a few hundred times. I just got my 11th review on it today.

Even purchased books you can't guarantee sales to match the downloads of the samples, or reviews to go with every sale. My book "Witchlet" for example has had the sample downloaded over a hundred times, sold about 50 copies, and has about 13 reviews. I used that one for an example because it's the one with the most sales and reviews.


message 5: by L.L. (new)

L.L. Watkin (LLWatkin) | 62 comments I've put out a dozen short stories on smashwords now, all free for three months. My average download rate is 80 in the first week, after which the daily rate drops substantially. They generally inch up to 200 after 3 months.
Barnes & Noble seem to have a fair download rate for free shorts too, though my stats there are so variable (between 20 and 200!) that I can't say anything about averages.


message 6: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) Thanks, L.L., that seems about what I'm seeing. I published these on the 26th. Right now they're at 100 and 123 downloads. And, as expected, the download rate dropped dramatically in the days after first publishing.

They've both been approved for premium distribution but of course haven't shown up at any other retailers yet. I expect that'll take some time.


message 7: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) I really wish there was some kind of ranking system on SW to see how your works are faring vs others out there.


message 8: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) Micah wrote: "They've both been approved for premium distribution but of course haven't shown up at any other retailers yet. I expect that'll take some time..."

Spoke too soon, looks like "Watching the Watcher" is on B&N now. Cool.


message 9: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 1405 comments Sometimes they can take just a day or so to appear elsewhere, and other times it can take a couple of weeks.

I'm actually glad they don't have a way to compare how well you're doing compared to other authors on Smashwords. I think it would just add to the competitive nature of the market. Just focuss on enjoying the writing process and doing what you can to increase awareness of your work, celebrate when you get sales or good reviews, and try not to worry about the success or failure of others compared to yourself.


message 10: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) I don't worry about my success of failure compared to others. I would just like to have some kind of metrics to gauge how well I'm getting the word out on my own work.

I've been writing since at least the early '90s without any real thought of making a living at it--I write for me, and will continue writing whether it's profitable or not. But now that I'm able to make my work available, it would be nice to have a way of telling when (or whether) my efforts are effective.

I can't really do that out without data.


message 11: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 1405 comments That depends on the criteria you use to determine the answer.


message 12: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 814 comments If you're after comparitive data, I've just released the latest statistics on our short-story anthology Wyrd Worlds (see this thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...). The linked pdf file breaks it down per channel and month.


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1194 comments Micah wrote: "I don't worry about my success of failure compared to others. I would just like to have some kind of metrics to gauge how well I'm getting the word out on my own work."

I think you're obsessing too much with numbers... just write the next book! :) More books out, more exposure, more sales! ;)


message 14: by Micah (last edited Aug 02, 2014 01:47PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) I think you're all obsessing with the level of my desire for numbers. **grin** My original question was really just trying to get an idea of what others who have published free works have seen. Once I've done this half a dozen times I'll know better for myself.

My next novel has been written, as well as my next two short fiction works. I spent today formatting one of these free short stories in a way Kindle will accept. The newest novel and the new short works I'm still editing and polishing.

I also have the next two novels after that started, as well as at least two more short stories. (Not to mention the almost dozen other story ideas in various stages of early writing.)

So...it's not like I put out two short stories and have been sitting back hoping to become famous.


message 15: by Ted (new)

Ted Summerfield (ted_summerfield) | 144 comments I have 3 free ebooks, each getting between 6,000 and 20,000 downloads a month from Amazon. Total sales each month from Amazon from all my works there wouldn't buy a decent cup of coffee.

Downloads of my free works on Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble total less than 1,000 a month. My sales from those three alone are very satisfactory, with sales for one day on B&N easily allowing me to buy everyone in the coffee shop a drink.

I don't even check Smashwords downloads anymore. For me those are just gravy.

Bottom line: Every author has different numbers for downloads. Some authors have been publishing for a long time and have generated a brand name following; some authors have a series which is popular; some authors are just starting out self-publishing.


message 16: by Medeas (new)

Medeas Wray (e-mailmedeaswraycom) | 17 comments I never look - I find it too depressing.


message 17: by Tom (new)

Tom Lichtenberg | 7 comments To contribute to the question, some data points: I have a few dozen ebooks on Smashwords - all of them have always been free - and I've been putting them up there, several per year, for about five years. As of today they're getting downloaded between 1 and 10 times a day depending on the book (averaging around 2.5 per day altogether). The first week is always an outlier because "new" is always featured. Anything not "new" is old and "new" usually means "within the past 30 days"!! - I'm always surprised at the downloads still going on, with the huge number of titles available out there and practically no promotional efforts on my part. Over time the numbers add up. Along with Feedbooks and iBooks and B&N and Amazon price-matching-to-zero, unexplained spikes here and there and the vagaries of Amazon "bestseller" lists, my books have been downloaded over a million times. All of that and three dollars and change will get me a cappuccino at Starbucks anytime!


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