Results of my latest free book promotion

On Sept 20, I wrote my 54th post in my writing a novel series. It covered my results from offering my novels for free, usually as part of the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program.

Since my post, I have done another free promotion for Blood Bond.

If you remember from my original post, I have already done one free promotion on Blood Bond. It resulted in 781 books downloaded for free over 5 days. But based on the numbers from a free promotion from one of my previous books (The Heir to Alexandria), I wasn’t pleased with these results.

The Heir to Alexandria had 2740 downloads in just 3 days. I attributed the success of that promotion to my paid advertisement of my free book. Most of my downloads came on the day of my E-reader News Today ad.

One of the ads I posted on Facebook and Twitter.

When I did my first free promotion for Blood Bond, I applied to have an ad in the E-reader News Today, but they denied it, and I went with an advertisement on a different website. But I was able to secure an ad on E-reader News Today for my next promotion.

In October, I decided to run Blood Bond for free for five days. I applied to many of the same websites that would allow me to post (for free) information about my free book. And I applied for an ad in the E-reader News Today for Thursday – the mid-point of my free promotion.

Here is the breakdown of the free book downloads.

Oct 9 – 9 Books

Oct 10 – 3 Books

Oct 11 (day of E-Reader News ad) – 1171 Books

Oct 12– 165 Books

Oct 13 – 19 Books

That is a total of 1367 free books. My book did rise in the rankings but never did break the Top 100 Free list. It got as close as 104. Breaking the top 100 would have increased my exposure. But it did rise to #2 in both Fantasy/Epic and Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery.

Here is Blood Bond at #6 on the Fantasy/Epic charts.

It has only been a week and half since my book ran for free. I have received one new review (5 stars) and sold 2 more copies of my book. And the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited has soared.

While this is still not as good as my results with The Heir to Alexandria, I consider this more of a success than the first time I ran Blood Bond for free.

I can definitely say that advertising helps with the free downloads, but I am still not sure if there is enough of a benefit in doing a free promotion. The goal is to get people to read your work and love it enough to buy your other books. And while that did work with The Heir to Alexandria, it hasn’t always proved to be the case as you can see with the past two free promotions for Blood Bond. This is why I caution new writers from even offering their books for free. The benefit only comes if you have other books already published.

KDP Select free book promo results

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverI posted about trying out Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select back in January before I released my fourth full-length fantasy novel The Heir to Alexandria. It would be my second time trying the Kindle program. (I first tried it with my short story The Search.)

KDP Select is a program where you sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon. As part of the perks, 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.

Now some authors don’t like the program for its exclusivity as not all readers have a Kindle. You could be losing or angering some fans who have a different e-reader. By choosing to be exclusive to Amazon, you are in a sense putting all your eggs in one basket (though a really good basket as Amazon is the largest e-book retailer).

Now my thought about this is that I would only use the program for the initial 90 days and then release my e-book in other formats at Barnes & Noble, Kobo store, I Tunes and all the other e-book retailers after that. I don’t have such a following (yet) that I need to worry about angering my fans by only using Amazon for a short period.

So now let’s get on to my results from using KDP Select’s free book promotion.

First Free E-book Offer

I was really busy when my book came out at the end of January that I didn’t get a chance to offer it for free until March. Research showed that Tuesday and Wednesday would be best for a free promotion. So I picked March 10-11, which was during my kids’ Spring Break vacation from school.

Figuring out how to get the word out about your free book is always complex. I of course announced it on my blog, and my Tribber team helped spread the word. I also listed it on Independent Author Network‘s and World Literary Cafe’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.

Here is the breakdown from my first two free days…

March 10 – 65 books

March 11 – 11 books

Total free books – 76

Now that wasn’t as good as a result as I would have wanted. But my April was set to be really busy in the beginning and many websites, in addition to the review requirements, want notice of up to weeks in advance.

Second Free E-book Offer

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 have to 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

top 100 - 82During 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. This is in comparison to only one box set sold during my March free promo.

#1 fantasyDuring 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.

So do I regret offering my hard work for free? Not at all. I am pleased with the results. I gained reviews and sales. And hopefully as more people read my free book, I will get more of both.

(Really, a free book promo only benefits an author who has other books to offer.)

Of course now my deal with Amazon is over. I have since published my novel on Smashwords and soon it will be available at more e-book retailers.