I’m part of a tiny press, and we’d never done a sale before where an e-book had been set for free for a short time, so doing so with Soul Cages gave us some valuable information for future temporary sales.
First off, the Sony eBookstore and iTunes were terrific in responding in a reasonable amount of time to the change of the price to Free, and then ending the sale after we raised the price back to $4.99. Considering that the pricing was being done through Smashwords, this was an impressive turnaround time. We’d do a sale with them again in a heartbeat.
We also confirmed that it takes a while for a free version to get over to Barnes & Noble, and also confirmed that a different e-bookstore (not Barnes & Noble) tends to be irritatingly sloooooooow in responding to price hikes after a sale is over.
If you want Amazon to match the temporary sales price set at Free, Barnes & Noble and iTunes tend to be key markets that need to be part of the sale. We decided we’d learned enough already and stopped the free sale at Barnes & Noble before it could begin. We had no need to trigger a free sale at Amazon this time around.
I strongly advise any tiny press planning a temporary sale to be careful about which e-retailers you do it with. Most will honor your request to raise the price back up once the sale is over, but there’s one or two out there that will drag their feet for months, and you’ll probably have to file a complaint with Smashwords Customer Support to contact those e-retailers to get them to cooperate and raise the price back up.
So you may want to think carefully about which e-retailers have your e-book in their inventory if you’re going to do a temporary sale. One option is to do the sale at the very beginning when an e-book has just been published, then wait until after the sale is over to ship the e-book at the regular price to those few e-retailers that have a pricing behavior problem. That way you can do a temporary sale as a marketing strategy when the e-book is first released, then get coverage in all e-stores later on.
Another option is to avoid certain e-retailers entirely for e-books if you want temporary sales to be done for that e-book on a regular basis. But remember to weigh the convenience of doing so against the disadvantage of lost sales if that e-retailer can get you into markets otherwise inaccessible.
But no two e-books are alike, so what works best for one e-book is not the same as what works best for another.