Surprisingly, the debate over whether to offer eBooks for free continues. We don’t wish to talk about whether it’s worth doing, We think it is. For the exposure, if nothing else. But also because it provides something different to break up the monotony of marketing.
So yes, based on the experience of running promotions for seven books, free days help. Doing three days is better than two, but two is better than nothing. We’ve seen increased sales, and more reviews (even though many readers pick up free books simply for the pleasure of writing snarky ones).
What’s new is that with Kindle Unlimited, many more people who missed out on the free days, will borrow the book.
There’s also that ranking thing, but so far, while it’s nice if a book reaches the #1 spot, or stays in the top 100, we haven’t seen any uptick in sales due to rankings.
What we want to address instead is how to go about listing your book on those sites that will
help promote your free days.
But first. While the indie community is amazingly generous in sharing information and advice, there are some people who will always advocate doing everything yourself. We're not those people.
We’ve gone that route. Spent several days hand-posting to more than 70 sites. Even woke up at 3 am on the first day of the promotion to add the book to several more places. We got good results, but as publisher, our time could be better spent doing other publisher kinds of things.
So we tried those sites that, for a fee, will do the posting to other sites for you.
Our approach depends on the type of book and the size of the budget. Which is why we started with Fiverr. Low cost, not great results but better than nothing.
Then Author Marketing Club's Free Book Submission Tool. We love AMC for all the good tips we’ve picked up in the past two years. This was better than doing it ourselves, but still took up time.
Then, because we also like the people over at BookMarketingTools, we tried their eBook Submission Tool. Not too expensive, not too time consuming, access to more than 30 sites. Using them and doing a few sites on our own, we saw more than 7,000 downloads on one of our promotions.
For our most recent promotion, we tried EBookBooster - 50+ sites for $40. Easiest one yet. At the end of the second day, there were more than 5,000 downloads. And yes, the book hit #1 in its category.
One surprise from using them - something called FamilyFriendlyFrugality.com appears to have a really eager tweet team. It’s not a site we would have thought to use before, but now we’ll add it to the list.
I know you want numbers, rankings, after sales, and reviews, but what skews this is BookBub.
If there really is a 600 pound gorilla that suddenly walks into the room, this is it. If you're lucky enough to get listed on BookBub, downloads skyrocket. One of our books went from less than a 1,000 downloads to more than 20,000 in a matter of hours.
Since the promotion ended, we’re seeing a rapid increase in reviews. We’ve seen this before and it’s a mixed blessing. Evidently too many readers pick up books in genres they don’t ordinarily like. Instead of just closing the book and moving on, they feel the need to comment. Free country, free speech and all that, but honestly, doesn’t it say more about the reader than it does about the book?
For the first time, we’re seeing significant post-freebie sales and borrows. While we only used EbookBooster and BookBub for this promotion, we have no way to measure which one is driving these increases. We're not complaining.
But it brings us back to the question of - how much is enough? As publisher, we’re not entirely sure if there’s a magic number for how many books we’d like to see downloaded. It’s great to have thousands of new readers all around the world. Terrific for getting authors’ names known so that their next books might do well. But isn't there’s something a little excessive about giving away 20,000 or 30,000 books? Most of those readers might never have bought the book, the thinking goes, so it's not like losing sales. Still, there's something about this freebie frenzy that is a little unsettling. If we figure out what it is, we'll let you know.
Meanwhile, we'd welcome your thoughts.
One thing we ought to mention. it's entirely possible that what drives readers to download a book is its cover. We have to thank Al Pranke at amp13 for making such appealing ones.
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