Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Very Good Deal by Catherine Czerkawska

Last month, The Physic Garden was on a sudden and unexpected - by me, anyway - Kindle Daily Deal in the UK. There’s no point in asking me how it happened because the short answer is, I don't know. The book in question is drastically reduced in price for a single 24 hour period from midnight to midnight. And the books are chosen by Amazon.

Let me say right away that I was delighted. I gather some people aren’t when it happens to their books, but you can’t please everyone all the time. I subscribe to the Daily Deal newsletter myself, and I buy a lot of ebooks from the site.

The Physic Garden was published in paperback and ebook form, by the excellent Saraband about a year ago. Sales have been steady but not astronomical. Reviews have been good, but not all of them glowing. It’s the kind of novel, I suspect, that you either love to bits or don’t really get at all. It got picked by the Sunday Times for one of their historical novel choices last spring which was very cheering. And I’m working on something else for the same publisher – really got my head down and working, which is why this is going to be quite a short post.

The Curiosity Cabinet has more reviews - although it has taken longer to get them. It still sells well, mainly because of the Outlander effect, even though it was first published years ago. (I know that it's a very different novel but I’m happy to be swept along in Gabaldon’s wake.) The Physic Garden is newer and a beautifully produced book with a lovely cover. I certainly think that helped on the day. I’ve heard of indie published novels also being on Kindle Daily Deals but I think that’s entirely in Amazon’s gift. Sorry to be unhelpfully vague but that’s really all I know.

What I do know though, is that it worked and it was hugely enjoyable. I did some promotion throughout the day, on Facebook and on Twitter, and so did the publisher. Some kind friends shared the status update on a few groups. After a slow start, the book started to creep up the rankings. I watched it with interest and then a mounting sense of excitement. I had to go out during the day, but when I came back, I saw that in that large category of ‘historical fiction’ The Physic Garden had started to shift. It was like watching a race. It slowly but surely overtook books by Jeffrey Archer, Philippa Gregory, Ken Follett and – good grief – the Poldark opus. I’d just bought the first Poldark novel myself! 

By 11 pm, the book was still creeping up and my publisher and I were emailing each other. ‘Have you seen it?’ ‘Will it get there?’ I made another mug of redbush tea. Sat with the laptop on my knee, partly watching late night television (those programmes about extreme hoarders are very therapeutic. You think ‘well at least I’m not that bad.’) and partly watching the laptop. And at ten minutes to midnight, it finally hit #1 in historical fiction. Cue slight hysteria and a bit of jumping up and down. Had to go and wake slumbering husband to tell him about it.

Of course the golden coach turns into a pumpkin at midnight. That’s how stories work. But it’s great while it lasts and the resulting visibility at full price is so good. I’ve seen a knock-on effect of some extra sales with my other books too.

One of the nicest things, though, was a long, long thread on Facebook that started to take on a life of its own, and eventually stretched to more than 130 likes and a long string of comments from interested friends and acquaintances with people keeping it going just for the hell of it. That was a lot of fun and quite moving as well. Thank-you to everyone who joined in. I’d be very happy to do it all over again, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Finally, because I’ve mentioned Poldark, here’s an otherwise wholly irrelevant picture of Aidan Turner for all his fans out there. Any excuse. Me, I’m back in the kitchen with the white mice, sweeping out the cinders. Jeff Bezos may be an unlikely fairy godmother but I hope s/he pays another visit quite soon.

A wholly irrelevant picture ...

PS We will be launching our new anthology of short stories: A Flash in the Pen on Sunday 21st June, with a big Facebook Party. There will be all kinds of virtual goodies on offer: food, drink, freebies ... and the anthology will be available at the special introductory price of 99p. Don't miss it! 

8 comments:

Dennis Hamley said...

Catherine, what a great and lovely surprise that must have been. Good on you! I remember that back in 2012 with the great AE giveaway how I watched with bated breath my Of Dooms and Death creep inexorably to the top of the US historical fiction ratings. Sadly that all changed when people actually had to pay for it again! But I'm not surprised about The Physic Garden. A truly great novel. I told you some months ago that I'd now read The Curiosity Cabinet and The Amber Heart and promised reviews of both. I've since promised reviews to other people and still haven't done any of them. But I will, I will.

margaret blake said...

How wonderful, Catherine, you must have been thrilled. So the novel is sold cheaply for a day - it means more readers, which is what you want. Anyway, you are such a brilliant writer and any success is well deserved. And thanks for the picture of Aiden!

Lydia Bennet said...

That is fantastic Catherine and so well deserved. It's a terrific novel. I am interested in the process Amazon uses in selecting these - was it Saraband-published in their eyes, or self-pub? I've always assumed they don't choose self-pub books for the Daily Deal. However I also assumed it was big publishers who nabbed all the chances so either way it's encouraging. So glad it worked out so well for you.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Thanks, Dennis and Margaret - it's a great feeling, even though fleeting, isn't it? Valerie, I know this was a Saraband thing, nothing to do with the self published books, and I think it's down to Amazon, but I don't think they only go for big publishers in particular which is quite reassuring - it levels the playing field a bit for the smaller independent publishers. I suspect reviews and sales may have something to do with it but don't even know that. I've heard of one or two self publishers also being offered these deals but again, I have no idea why. May have something to do with reviews and sales, but that's only a guess.

Mari Biella said...

Well done, Catherine. The Physic Garden is a great book, and certainly deserves plenty of readers. It's also encouraging that a small independent publisher gets a chance like this - like Valerie, I always assumed that it was the kind of thing that was reserved for the big boys.

Lydia Bennet said...

Thanks for the clarification Catherine, however i've noticed some very new books go up as daily deals which haven't got reviews, which is why I assumed it was the publisher's clout. Either way it's great for you and clearly your publisher is a force to be reckoned with!

Ann Turnbull said...

How exciting this must have been! I'm so pleased for you - and especially for this book, which I love. When it first came out, I bought it on Kindle. Then I bought myself a 'real' copy. Then I bought two more copies as Christmas presents. It's so good to know that many other people may now read it and spread the word. I was only dimly aware of this free for a day phenomenon. It's fascinating - especially as it seems nobody knows how the books are chosen.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Thanks, Ann and so glad to know you liked it so much that you wanted to give it to other people! The book isn't exactly free on these daily deals - it's drastically reduced, in this case to 99p. But I think the fact that there's a huge mailshot helps.