How the Free Give-Away Went—And Did it Work?

I know you’re all very curious to know how effective it was for me to give away my ebook Feral Magic for free for five days.  We Indies always want to know what another person did, and if it worked.

Many other Indies suggest that free give-aways don’t work that well because you only have so many people in your target audience–and once they’ve spent their money (or didn’t), that’s it. And there is a level of truth in that. I’ve heard a very good idea that once an Indie has a series, they should put the first book for free, and mark up the others in the series to about $5. I’d say it works well. If you don’t have that option, there is an option to write a short story featuring your main characters, and put that story for free.

So, the concept of giving away your one and only book for free doesn’t seem like the best idea–or is it?

It can be. It certainly has helped me out!

I made a couple of mistakes. The first was not having a list of places that promoted free kindle books. The second was waiting until I was 8 days from the end of my 90-day choose-your-days-to-be-free gig. So, I improvized. I chose to start the book on a Friday and end on Tuesday. I thought the weekend sales would be the best bet–and they were. I wish I would have started on Thursday and ended on Monday. Lesson learned.

I notified people along the way about my book, trying to give them as much lead as possible (it seriously was not much, and I wish I could have given them more!). FYI, the more days, the better, but at least 5 days notification is comfortable for them. I will include a list, both of those who helped me promote, and those who I have found since then. These do not include Nook communities, though I will one day (soon? I hope?) be looking for them as well.

Before then, how did I do? I gave away about 1,070 copies in a 5 day period. I was in the top 100 for all of those days and I reached the top 20 once. That. Was. Amazing. Especially considering two weeks before, I was number 521 thousand-some-odd-hundred on the rankings. It was a definite morale boost to say the least! (Note: my husband said that one of his coworker’s mother got my book during that period. Small world, huh?) If only for the knowledge that people found it interesting, it was worth the free giving away.

After the boom, I sold about 12 books the last week of that month. Before, I had sold 8 copies in a 3-month period. And now, I’ve sold 9 copies in 13 days. I’m so very eager to keep on putting out books now. It’s addicting, and I’m curious how an illustrated cover will influence sales on a new book.

As you can see, it’s not a lot of money that is being made. But it is increasing. And I think a major reason for the increase is this:

Once your book sells about 1,000 copies, the Amazon algorithms start to put your book into the stream of “Others Also Bought…”

This attracts more people. Obviously.

I am very happy with how the free promo went. Would I do it again? For a new title, yes. But for the same book a second time? I’m thinking, probably not. But if I can’t figure out how to format for Nook by the time The King’s Mutt debuts, I’ll enroll TKM into Amazon Select and plan for the free give away right off the bat, if only so it gets into the algorithms faster.

What do you say when you ask people to plug your book?

Ok, I started out with a brief intro. Something like, “Hi, my book is on promo for free starting on XX and ending on XX. I know this doesn’t give you much lead time,  but if you could slip me in sometime, that would be fantastic. If you can’t, I understand and thank you for reading this. My book is: Feral Magic. It is an Urban Fantasy with twists of mystery and romance featuring a strong female protagonist. It normally sells for $2.99, but I would like as many people as possible to take advantage of the promotional pricing (free). Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Nicolette.” If they ask for the book blurb, I copy-paste what I have on the Amazon page. If they ask for a picture, I link to the image URL on Amazon. This message seems to work well. Do NOT make them work! They are doing you a favor, and you owe it to them to make it as easy as possible. Don’t waste their time.

So, places that you can find free promo books/contact the people and ask them very sweetly if they could slip your book in:

On the Web

http://thefrugalereader.com/ The gal who runs this site is just AM.A.ZING. I gave her NO lead time whatsoever, the poor dear, and she squeezed me into a post! If you only plug one of these links, plug hers, please! I’m trying to spread her site out to as many people as I can.

http://www.freebooksy.com/

On Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing OK, maybe not the best venue for promotion, but you should get their posts if you are on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Books-for-Kindle/136225579732999

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paranormal-Romance-Urban-Fantasy-Book-Lovers/277066277373  Ok, so I was after this more for the Urban Fantasy, but they seem to specialize more in the Para Romance. Look up your genre if you aren’t one of those two–I’ll bet you’ll find a few pages to help you out.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kindle-Author/168316526565998 Kindle Author does a lot of plugging. Personal experience dictates that it is a little kinder to message the page and tell them about your book rather than post a message to their page. All pages seem to appreciate having the opportunity to choose if they want to plug your book—not many books posted to their wall make it into their posts, and I haven’t been denied yet from my messages.

On G+

There are Indies who hang out on G+. Look for “books” in the public stream, and you’d be surprised how many authors surface. Also, you can post as yourself on Public, and hashtag #books, #ebooks, #free, and #freestuff. There are also a couple of book clubs on there right now–I’m part of them, but my internet is irritatingly slow and I am writing this while waiting for links to load. Hence why this post is so thorough.

Other Places

I’m sure there are groups on Diaspora and Twitter, but I haven’t been very active on D, and I just barely set up an account that I haven’t yet used on Twitter. If you know of them, or other places on the web, please leave a comment with a link so other people can find them, too.

In conclusion, should you decide to put your book on promo, then promote the daylights out of it. Start notifying all the people you can the week before the promo hits. Then keep finding people and keep posting. Do not fall through the internet web. Be the brightest darned butterfly to get caught, and you’ll attract lots of attention. Particularly if you keep on flashing your stuff.

Keep on reading and writing!

Written with love,

Your Dearest Nicolette.

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One thought on “How the Free Give-Away Went—And Did it Work?

  1. Hi Nicolette,
    Well done! It sounds like your sales have really started to go up after that, which is great. So Amazon start promoting you after 1,000 sales – and that includes free ‘sales’ – that’s great to know. Really informative post, thank you for sharing.
    Jo 🙂

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