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Old 03-06-2012, 03:54 PM   #1
Jim Chaseley
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Sample Downloads to Purchases Ratio

Smashwords seems to be the only place where I can see how many people have downloaded my book's sample, which is a nice bit of information to have access to.

I was wondering though, what's a decent download to purchase ratio to have?

I've not been on Smashwords long at all, and haven't really spread the link very far yet, but is 15 downloads to 3 purchases "decent"? A 5:1 ratio.

I'm sure not everyone who's downloaded the sample will have read it yet, of course but...well, should I worry that I'm not "converting" more people?
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:53 PM   #2
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This is a very good question. I haven't been on Smashwords all that long myself and I was wondering the same thing. My sample downloads currently stand at 20 to 4 actual sales.

As for worrying about whether more pole should have been "converted" - I think it's possibly slightly early yet to draw any firm conclusions.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:07 PM   #3
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I doubt there is any solid correlation you can make because you do not know how many ppl READ your sample down load. 10,000,000,000 people might download it, and all three that read the sample might buy it, giving you 100% conversion rate, yet you could never know that.

That is just my opinion. Not based on anything other then this flavored water I am drinking.
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Old 03-07-2012, 04:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope
1993939I doubt there is any solid correlation you can make because you do not know how many ppl READ your sample down load. 10,000,000,000 people might download it, and all three that read the sample might buy it, giving you 100% conversion rate, yet you could never know that.
That sounds entirely about right, reasonable and logical to me. Thanks for the sage input.

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That is just my opinion. Not based on anything other then this flavored water I am drinking.
Flavoured water, you say? Well that clinches it. Your opinion is positively solid gold.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:06 AM   #5
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I was going to say that it was a very small sample size to be basing statistical judgements on, but then SRH59 came in with exactly the same ratio. My conclusion is that Smashwords make them up.

Smashwords is unusual in that a lot of its business is with unknown writers. At a guess, I'd say the customers will be more willing to download a sample and also more willing not to convert if it's not what they're looking for.

What I mean is that, on my Kindle, if I grab a sample it is because I am already considering buying the book. If I was deliberately seeking new material, as on Smashwords, then I'd need to sample more to find something.
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Old 03-07-2012, 03:34 PM   #6
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How much of a sample do you give away?

Arguments for and against providing a 90% sample with the last 10% to be paid for, please.

On the one hand if you've held someone's attention for 90% of the novel, they're not likely to give up. On the other hand, if you give that much of a sample, it gives the reader more opportunity to get irritated with your writing style or plot.
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Old 03-07-2012, 03:44 PM   #7
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Speaking personally, I give a 20% sample. It's enough in my opinion. If you can't convince, hook, and hold potential readers in the early chapters - then chances are you're not going to hook them at all.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
I was going to say that it was a very small sample size to be basing statistical judgements on, but then SRH59 came in with exactly the same ratio. My conclusion is that Smashwords make them up.
Mine is currently 68:11, or about 6:1....I see a trend here, for sure.

Do we have any SW authors here with more digits in their numbers to compare to?
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:16 PM   #9
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90% sample, that's a very interesting idea. I just went with 20%, because that's what you get with Amazon. There's some sort of nagging fear I can't place my finger on over giving 90% away.

I might be "brave" and go for 50% as a little test...

Possible, potentially flakey argument against high percentage: Perhaps readers want to zip through a short sample, and, having a much larger one, never actually finish it, and thus never buy the book?
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Chaseley View Post
90% sample, that's a very interesting idea. I just went with 20%, because that's what you get with Amazon. There's some sort of nagging fear I can't place my finger on over giving 90% away.

I might be "brave" and go for 50% as a little test...

Possible, potentially flakey argument against high percentage: Perhaps readers want to zip through a short sample, and, having a much larger one, never actually finish it, and thus never buy the book?
A ninety percent sample seems like a huckster's gimmick to me. I don't like those 'previews' that give you the first 11 chapters or such, either.
"Here....read, enjoy! Good, huh? Oh, you want to know the ending? Fork over the cash, Clyde."

Just rubs me the wrong way.

I also hate samples that don't get you past the table of contents and the dedication page.

I just want to see enough to get the style and tone, and see if I start to get drawn in.

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:23 PM   #11
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Whenever I can control sample size, I set it to 100%.

Honestly, if someone is going to pirate me, a 90% sample size isn't going to stop them.* If someone isn't sure they want to buy me after a 20% sample, well KEEP GOING, GOOD SIR! MAYHAP CHAPTER SEVEN WILT CHANGE THY MIND??

Plus, my mother-in-law always reads the ending first to see if she wants to buy a book.**

* Mind you, I'm very much in FAVOR of being pirated.

** And I have a potentially-spoilery "trigger warning" section at the very back.

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Old 03-07-2012, 09:00 PM   #12
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Here are my Smashwords purchase-to-sample ratios for my non-free books.

16:103
10:151
25:189
2:16

As for the sample size, usually I pick 50%. I can usually discern whether I want to keep reading within the first few pages, but I figure there's not much to lose by giving folks half the book to make up their minds.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:13 PM   #13
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On Smashwords, I have a 30% sample, which is what they recommend for shorter fiction. I don't have any samples on BookieJar, though. Their sampling system is based on chapters and not percentages of the completed work- and I don't see a need to subdivide a piece that's only 16k words long into chapters.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:19 PM   #14
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Anything beyond 20% in sample size probably has no effect on purchase I would guess (well excluding 100% of course). I just leave mine at the defaults most places.
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:51 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
Anything beyond 20% in sample size probably has no effect on purchase I would guess (well excluding 100% of course). I just leave mine at the defaults most places.
I agree. If a potential reader can't decide whether they want to purchase based on the first two or three chapters, then the book probably isn't for them.

To offer anything beyond, say four chapters as a sample means you might as well not bother charging in the first place.
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