This post is the fifty-fourth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
Last week, I wrote about offering your book for free as part of a promotion. I have done this numerous times and wanted to share my results with you. But be warned that your results may vary as every book is different and every promo has differing variables that will change the outcome.
Now with my first three books, I never enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select.
(For a refresher – KDP Select is a program where you sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon. Through the program, you can either offer your book free for up to five days or offer it at a discount using their Kindle Countdown promotion. Your agreement with Amazon lasts 90 days, and then you can choose whether to renew your enrollment in the program or not. If you renew, you get to use one of the promotions again for that 90-day period.)
But I have offered these first three books for free on Smashwords. Typically, I reduced their price on Amazon while offering them free on Smashwords through their coupon program, which only apply to purchases on the Smashwords website.
When I have done these promotions, I have typically advertised these on my blog, my Facebook page and on Twitter. Because my reach on these avenues is limited, downloads of my free or reduced-price books have been low to non-existent. The good thing is that these promotions have cost me nothing.
KDP Select Free Promotions
I have used this program for my short story as well as my last two full length novels.
The Search is my short story. It came out in September of 2012. I enrolled it in KDP Select for the first 90 days, so I had 5 free days.
My first free promotion, done 11 days after The Search was released, resulted in 119 downloads. I did this on a Thursday and Friday with very little promotion.
For my second free promotion which ran Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 (Thursday to Saturday), I did a lot more promoting. About three weeks before my promotion, I submitted my free book information to 14 different websites and posted it to various Goodreads groups and the World Literary Café free boards. (The World Literary Café is no longer in business.)
I joined the tweet teams on World Literary Café and posted it on my blog, which meant my tribemates on Triberr all tweeted about it for me. And I was featured on two different blogs that were both run by some great people who promoted my free book on numerous Facebook pages as well as through their own Triberr/Twitter connections.
My additional promotion paid off. Over the three days, I had 928 downloads. During this time, my short story rose to #280 on the free book list and #2 on the Young Adult/Fantasy free list. Also right after the promotion ended, I sold 2 more copies of The Search and 18 copies of my other novels. (I had 2 out at this time.)
The Heir to Alexandria
The Heir to Alexandria came out in January 2015. Again, I only used KDP Select for the first 90 days, so I had just 5 free days.
I ran my first promotion on March 10-11, which was a Tuesday and Wednesday, days that I had heard would be good for a free book promotion. Again, I used my blog, Twitter and Facebook to announce my promotion. Putting it on my blog meant that my Tribber team helped spread the word. I also listed the promotion on the Independent Author Network and World Literary Café’s free book sections. Many other websites won’t list your free book if you don’t have the required amount of reviews (typically 20 or more 4 or 5 star reviews) so I didn’t have a lot of other options.
Over the two days, I had 76 downloads. Disappointing.
So for my second set of free days, I decided to purchase a few advertisements. I spent $15 ($5 a day) to appear on Digital Book Today’s website. I also applied to be on E-Reader News Today’s email and website. (They must approve you.) For only $15, I would be on Wednesday’s e-mail list and on their homepage. So in addition to these and my previous efforts, this time my free days would also happen during the A to Z challenge when my blog would be getting more traffic.
Here is the breakdown of my second set of free days…
April 21 – 234 books
April 22 (day of E-Reader News Ad) – 1769 books
April 23 – 737 books
Total free books – 2740
During the free promotion and the week after, I received three new reviews and sold five copies of The Search, two copies of Summoned (Book 1 of my trilogy), one copy of Quietus (Book 2 of my trilogy), and five copies of my trilogy box set.
During the free promo, I also rose in sales rank. The Heir to Alexandria got as high as 82 on Kindle’s top 100 free list. It also stayed at number 1 in Epic Fantasy for a whole day.
Blood Bond came out in February 2018. So far, I have kept this book in KDP Select for three rounds, using a free promotion my first 90 days and then Kindle Countdown for my second. I haven’t decided how I will use my third. (I’ll discuss Kindle Countdown and my results in a separate post.)
This time I decided to do all five days at one instead of doing two promotions. I was hoping on building momentum. As your sales rank rises, the visibility of your free book does too.
Based on my other experiences, I knew I needed some advertising – whether free or paid. I did my free promotion from April 25 to April 29 (Wednesday thru Sunday). I bought an ad on Digitalbooktoday.com and applied for one on E-reader News but was denied so I went with Indie Author News instead. I also filled out forms to have my book featured on as many other websites as I could. As the promotion ran, I also did a free Facebook promotion for the last day. (Facebook business was trying to entice me to use them and gave me a $30 credit.)
Over the five days, I had 781 downloads. After the success I had with The Heir to Alexandria, I found this number to be disappointing. I think the difference was the E-reader news ad. I did sell 5 books in April and 11 in May.
Remember if you choose to run your own free book promotion that your results will certainly differ from mine.
#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths
#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel
#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”
#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel
#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?
#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel
#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot
#8 – To Outline or not to outline
#9 – The importance of a story arc
#10 – The importance of tension and pace
#11 – Prologue and opening scenes
#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel
#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it
#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel
#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags
#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel
#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing
#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel
#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block
#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel
#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel
#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits
#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel
#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing
#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers
#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés
#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues
#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More
#29 – Finishing your First Draft
#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond
#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms
#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel
#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors
#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program
#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing
#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud
#37 – Publishing Options for your book
#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions
#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name
#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover
#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb
#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel
#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel
#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication
#45 – Pricing your e-book
#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility
#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders
#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select
#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital
#50 – Marketing your E-book
#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market
#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them
#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?