So it's been just shy of a month since Celebrity Space went "unfree." Right after the story switched back to paid I was getting 1-3 sales a day for about two weeks. I have noticed a slow down lately. Hard to say if it's because of the right before Christmas season or if it's just a natural slow down.
I thought I would ramble a bit about my overall impression of my "free" experience. One major con is that if you make the story free through Smashwords it takes a long time. Several months even. So if you want to take the free route, plan accordingly.
I did notice that my overall number of free downloads were very low compared to what other authors have reported about their free novels. This is just a good tidbit to digest if you're writing short stories. For me I think it proves that there is an audience out there but it is definitely smaller than the novel reading crowd. There are literally people you can't even give away a short story to.
Free did increase the number of reviews that I have. Some of them were good. The not so good ones always complained about the length being too short. A review is a review in my mind. The more you rack up, the better. But again this proves that there is a strong prejudice that short story writers are up against.
I think the exposure that I gained as an author by taking the free route has been invaluable. I have tried just about everything at this point in the advertising department. I've probably dropped hundreds of dollars tried various paid features. Nothing has been as effective as going free for a time on Amazon. While Celebrity Space was free, I saw a large boost in the sales for the other stories. After it went back to paid, there was definitely a spike in the number of units sold.
Overall, I am selling more now than I was before free. Admittedly, this could be just due to the fact that I've been "an author" for that many more months. But I think the general increase in sales is large enough to fairly say that free had something to do with it.