Remember the online Julia Spencer-Fleming giveaway two weeks ago? St. Martin’s was providing new subscribers to its mystery newsletter with PDF downloads of the first two novels in Spencer-Fleming’s series on the eve of the publication of her sixth, I Shall Not Want. Well, the results are in, and I’m told (informally) that thousands of readers took the downloads, and that the first week sales for I Shall Not Want were double that of her previous hardcover, last year’s All Mortal Flesh.
So that’s one possible plank in the argument that a controlled free release can attract new readers for an author. By allowing readers to discover Spencer-Fleming’s characters at no cost, it appears they may have motivated some of those readers to keep following the storyline. The results are admittedly vague; it would be interesting to see whether the paperbacks of books three, four, and five experienced similar bumps.