A lot of people downloaded NORTHMAN in my recent free promotion on Amazon KDP Select. I can’t tell you how many because – I was surprised to learn – I would break my contract with Amazon if I were to do so. Betcher didn’t know that. Suffice it to say it was ten times the number of my first promo, last year. And it was a lot. Did I mention that already?

NORTHMAN hit #1 in the Horror/Occult charts, #2 in the Horror charts and #44 in the Free Kindle charts. All in the US. Truly amazing and totally unexpected! It hardly showed in the UK charts, possibly because most of the free book sites on which I placed the book were in the US.

There is a childish fascination in watching the numbers tick over. The thought that people whom one does not know are downloading one’s book in countries many thousands of  miles away is quite satisfying. I’ve mentioned this before and I know the FREE header has attracted many of those readers, but I don’t care. For a brief moment in time it gave me the same feeling that the greats must have had as they watched their books vanish from the shelves. Unlike the greats, my moment will pass and I’ll return to looking at the download numbers once a month.

But that doesn’t sadden me.

If anything, it makes me oddly happy that a large number of readers will have my book on their Kindles. It makes me wonder if I should write everything for free.

There are so many books out there and many are free for a greater part of their lives. Will the time come when every book is free? Do we need a new paradigm for publishing? How would a starving author earn a crust in the new paradigm? What do you think?

Things are changing. Things have changed.

What hasn’t changed is the interaction between human beings who write and human beings who read. We will always need stories. Stories tell us about ourselves, about others and most of all about possibilities. The Norse ‘skald’ would tell tales around the fire and the children would listen. From those tales the children would extract loose templates for living as adults. It enabled them to survive and grow in their society.

Now, we watch TV and movies and interact through virtual social networks to achieve the same end.

And we still read books. In increasing numbers. Perhaps, sometimes, we tire of the visceral reality of the moving image and prefer to use our own imagination, rather than the imagination of someone else. Or it could be that, occasionally, a retreat from socialising into a private world created by one, for one, is simply  a way of staying sane.

I don’t know, There are now so many things I don’t know, I’m wondering how I managed to forget so much, since I knew everything at 21.

Anyway, I’m drifting. I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ again for the wonderful support I’ve had over the last year from both readers and fellow writers. It has been a revelation to me and restructured my thinking about people after a lifetime in a hard, commercial world. Maybe not ‘restructured’ but rather ‘returned to default’. I’m immensely grateful for that reminder of innocent belief.

Once I have an idea of what worked and what didn’t I’ll post it for your amusement. It won’t be a template, because I know the Philosopher’s Stone only exists at Hogwarts.

Or where William the Cat buried it.

About J.D.Hughes

Disclaimer: The profile photo above was taken when I was (briefly) young and cool. Writer, director and recovered ne'er do well. Simply delightful, but quite unhinged supernatural thrillers, NORTHMAN & AND SOON THE SONG on Amazon and several short stories, all of which contain The Meaning of Life. Or one of them. New novel to be published mid 2020, but on current performance might be posthumously... Likes dogs and probably was one in a past life.
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18 Responses to ANOTHER BIG THANK YOU!

  1. K. S. Bowers says:

    Congratulations, J. 🙂 The publishing industry is still evolving and it’ll be interesting to see where that leaves indies once the dust has settled. Lately is seems the crust is harder to come by for anyone.

    I didn’t know it would break your contract with Amazon if you revealed the number of downloads you had.Oo I haven’t in any case nor would I. It seems odd that they would care and I’m sure there’s a very good reason for it, but I’m not business minded so it makes little sense to me. Interesting.


  2. J.D.Hughes says:

    Thanks, K. It seems odd to me, too, but it may have something to do with the algorithms they use for list rankings. Lots of aspiring authors would like to how they work, for obvious reasons.

    It’s always been difficult to be a writer. To make a living from it is even tougher. It’s why JK Rowling looked permanently surprised in the early days. The gods of visibility (one of whom was Christopher Little) had smiled on her.


  3. Paula Cappa says:

    What a triumph, JD! I think supernatural thrillers are on the rise at the moment as horror is getting more positive attention. Did you see the cover of Sunday NYTimes Book Review a few weeks ago with Stephen King’s review of Joyce Carol Oates “The Accursed”? We almost never see a horror novel on covers of NYT Book Review. Of course King and Oates are heavy hitters, but I think this says something about the genre. It’s about time that horror be considered part of literature instead of just pulp. I’m glad to see the rise in status.

    I never saw that part in the Amazon contract about revealing number of downloads. Is it in the terms and conditions for UK and US? Would it be possible for you to post the paragraph where it says that? Those terms and conditions are so wordy and dense, I glaze over most of the time.

    Enjoy the glory! Whatever they say about freebies good or bad, you’ve gotten great exposure and attracted a healthy number of readers.


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thanks, Paula – it was a surprise to say the least! I didn’t see the NYT cover, but I’ll look it out.

      I came across the info about declaring numbers on a writer’s website, but seem to have lost the link. I’ll check my history and see if I can find it.

      The glow has faded now. I need to get on with the paperback and the new novel, but I’m having difficulty understanding Createspace. Is it just me?


      • Paula Cappa says:

        I haven’t done Createspace yet. I want to do it over the summer. I’m told the best approach is to get an editor to format the file for print so it all goes smoothly. That’s a bit expensive I guess.

        So the info about not revealing download numbers was not from Amazon Terms and Conditions?


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        Still trying to find the site, Paula, but the owner was quoting Amazon, so I guess she’d done her homework. I will make an effort over the weekend.


  4. julietmchugh says:

    Well done 🙂 Hope it sparks many more of those great reviews!
    Publishing at the moment is a bit like freshly poured concrete – still finding its level. eBooks caused a minor explosion at the foundation but once the new pour settles, the structure will be stronger than before. I think we’ll see publishing houses looking more and more at what’s doing well among the self-published volumes and picking the cream of the crop. But the beauty of that if it happens is writers can still say no, I want to be free!


  5. J.D.Hughes says:

    I think you’re right. It’s disquieting that major publishers are now becoming involved with vanity publishers though. Desperation, perhaps. It reminds me of the last days of the recording industry, as we knew it. And that’s still ongoing freshly poured concrete…


  6. Lene says:

    Really? You can’t publicly say how many people downloaded your book? Is that only for free downloads or in general? Regardless, congratulations on a great success!

    I just read David Gaugran’s latest post where he inferred from miscellaneous numbers that self-published books represent 25% of e-books sold. That’s astonishing. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years.


  7. J.D.Hughes says:

    I read David’s post too, Lene, and as usual it was hugely informative and accurate. Traditional publishers haven’t yet realised the strength of the tsunami that is upon them and think it’s a passing cloud. They are wrong.

    But, what’s coming after the storm is anybody’s guess. Exciting, eh?


  8. Mari Biella says:

    Well done, JD! Like you, I have considered making everything I write free, permanently – largely because I have great trouble selling it! – and would be very tempted to do so if Amazon would only let me. With the advent of the ebook and the ease of piracy, I do wonder just how commercially viable writing now is, and will be in the future. This doesn’t bother me particularly, as I’ve never been especially interested in financial rewards anyway, but for those who are business-minded it could be a nightmare in the making…

    At the moment things are changing so rapidly that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Who knows what will have happened ten or twenty years from now? I think for writers perhaps the best approach is to shut out all the extraneous noise, insofar as we can, and just keep on writing.


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      You could always switch to Smashwords and make everything free, Mari. You might stay on Amazon at 99c, since there is no exclusivity clause in your Amazon contract to prevent you doing so. You couldn’t use KDP Select free promos of course, since it demands exclusivity. Then, if all your friends tell Amazon the book is free elsewhere they may price match. It’s not guaranteed, but might be worth a try. My short story, ‘The 500’ is (was) free on Amazon US, but not Amazon UK for some reason.

      Like you, I’m not dependent upon fiction writing for an income, so the idea of free books appeals. Having said that there is the shadow of ethical responsibiity looming. If my books are free am I ruining the market for those who might need to make a living from writing? A second question might be: is a writer who works without payment (or the possibility of such) a dilletante and does the word have any meaning in self-publishing? That’s two questions, I know, but I’ve just been for a walk in the sunshine by the lovely little River Bradford, seen my first Kingfisher of this year and several squashed toads, so my mind is incapable of worrying about niceties of language.


  9. Kavita Joshi says:

    Congratulations dear…thanks a lot for visiting my blog 🙂


  10. smnystoriak says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. And the more Indie authors I learn about, the more I appreciate the work you do. I have written one novel, a suspense thriller, and have another in the works. Agent representation has eluded me. It is so inspiring to hear about writers taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, and getting their words out there.

    I am considering downloading Northman and reviewing it on my blog. It sounds fascinating! If you get a chance, check out my blog here: I would love to know what you think. I appreciate any feedback! Cheers!



    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Many thanks for your comments, Susan. It’s tough being an Indy, but there are so many marvellous writers out there who would never have had the opportunity if not for Amazon. Coincidentally, several of them subscribe to this blog… yes, you know who you are 🙂

      As for NORTHMAN, there are a few free chapters here on the blog, so you can see if you like it or not. There’s nothing worse than finding a book you thought might be a good read and isn’t.

      Congratulations on your suspense thriller IDENTITY CRISIS and good luck with WORDS IN THE WINDOWSILL. See? I’ve been on your blog and I love it – great interviews and I like the idea behind your new novel – sounds intriguing! How did you find the process with your first book? Did it get any easier with your second? Why do you feel you need an agent?



      • smnystoriak says:

        Hey! Thanks for the wonderful words! I will most definitely be checking out your available chapters.

        Regarding how I felt about the process of writing my first novel, I enjoyed it. It was my very first attempt at fiction. As a music educator, I am usually one to have a pretty clear vision of the lessons I plan for my music students, so planning my first novel kind of fit that same pattern. With the second, I found that I actually planned it out too much, and I felt that I needed to let the story evolve in a more spontaneous, organic way. Perhaps every book is different, and every story will present itself differently. How about you?

        You also asked about why I feel I need an agent. I guess I don’t completely feel like that. However, I do think it would be a great help to have an agent with regard to the business side of publishing. I also keep thinking that if I self publish, I might put something out there that might not really be ready, if that makes any sense. Fortunately for me, I am not relying on this as my livelihood. I don’t want to send a book out there too soon. I do have a couple of beta readers, which are a big help to me.



      • J.D.Hughes says:

        I think writers fall into two categories: planners and shirt-tailers. As a teacher you will be a planner (my wife is a teacher, too) but I find if I plan my stories too much I know the ending and lose interest in the story. So, I sail in with an outline in my head, but totally dependent on my characters to dig me out of the hole! Sometimes it’s not pretty, but on other occasions they come to my rescue.

        If you’re worried about putting work out that’s not ready then get a good editor. My editor has little respect for any errors, so will highlight them even if I get mildly offended. That’s a good editor. I respect her advice, but if there’s something I feel I need to keep, then I keep it, although she’s usually right and I should have removed it! You don’t need an agent. I’ve had several and with one exception they are pretty useless. Trust your writing, but get honest, warts-and-all critiques from professionals as well as friends.


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