I recently discussed the importance of getting book reviews for your book. Another way that I received many of my book reviews was through free book promotions. When it comes to giving books away for free it seems that there is a lot of controversy among authors who sit on both sides of the fence. Some love it, others refuse it. I’m not going to go into the arguments here. What I would like to do is share my own experiences with you, as well as some tips should you wish to go the free route.
UPDATE: Offering your book for free can still be a good option for book promotion, BUT it is no longer as effective as it was when I wrote this article. The reason being that the choice of free books at the moment is now overwhelming and, I believe, therefore less enticing. Read all about this in my article, The New & Only True Book Marketing Method.
Amazon’s KDP Select (Kindle Digital Publishing Select) Platform was launched in December 2011, just one month after I published my first book. At the time my book was only available on Amazon and I was wanting to offer it for free to reviewers, and so I jumped at the opportunity to join the program. As a formerly unknown international author, I was looking for ways to get my book ‘out there’, and KDP Select offered me the perfect opportunity. Within two months of publishing my book, 1,500 readers had downloaded a copy. I was thrilled. Over the following year, I took part in many free promotions, taking full advantage of spreading the word about me, as a new author, and my book.
A few wonderful things have come out of my free promos. Firstly, I have received many more readers and reviews than I would have done without offering my book for free. Secondly, after every free promo my book sales are much higher than they are at any other time and this usually continues for a couple of weeks. I put this down to ranking, as well as to the fact that a lot of people were talking about my book when it was free which increased its online visibility. Lastly, being a part of the KDP Select program has given me the opportunity to make additional money every time my book is borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (a part of the KDP Select program). Some months this was a few hundred dollars!
One con that I would like to briefly mention here is that when something is offered for free, readers are less fussy and download books that they might not usually be willing to purchase, or are not in their favorite genre. Freebies can therefore mean the possibility of more negative reviews. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but more on that topic in another post.
Personally, I have never looked back. When it comes to my second book, I am not sure that I will be offering it for free. Perhaps by then, I would have already established myself as a known author with a large readership who will be happy to buy my next book.
Obviously if you are offering your book for free and no one knows about it, you will get very few downloads. This will be disheartening as well as defeating the entire purpose. The key to successful free promos is to market the heck out of them. Firstly, you need to make as many sites as possible aware of your promo – see links below. Secondly you need to put the word out there on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and so on and get others to share the good news too. Twitter is a great place for free book promos and you can use hashtags such as #freekindlebook #freebie #freekindle #freebook #Amazon and so on in order to show up on public searches.
If you decide that the KDP program is for you and would like to offer your book for free, here are some websites where you can advertise your free book promo at no cost. Each site has its own rules and specific ways you need to submit your book. Most require at least a few days notice. It takes time to go through all the sites and add your book, but, like all marketing, the few hours spent will be well worth the effort.
eBooks Habit (at least 2 days before your book goes free)
The eReader Café
Author Marketing Club (need to be a member – free)
Kindle Book Promos (requires at least 2 weeks notice)
The Kindle Book Review (requires 14 days notice)
Book Hippo (list your free UK kindle book on this site, only if you have Amazon UK reviews!)
Book Deal Hunter
Discount Book Man
If you are willing to pay for advertising, there are many sites that will guarantee a listing of your upcoming free ebook promotion for a small fee. I have an article coming soon that will list some of the best paid promotion sites.
All the best with your book promotions!