Tag Archives: free promotion

How to do a successful ebook promo (without BookBub)

Starting out as an indie author

As many readers of this blog know, I broke down this month and did a free promo for one of my Big Fat Fantasies again, Shadow of Stone, the second book in The Pendragon Chronicles. For a number of reasons, I hadn’t really wanted to go there anymore:

1) The reviews you get after a free run are sometimes downright depressing, since a lot of people are grabbing the book who are not your target audience.

2) The Pendragon books are REALLY long, and they took a LONG time to write. Something irks me about giving away all that work for free.

3) I don’t want to support the assumption on the part of a growing number of readers that the only good book is a free book.

Nonetheless, I decided to plan a free promo for Shadow of Stone. In the last half a year, it has sold less than 50 copies and had less than 20,000 pages read. Meaning that even though the book can be borrowed through KU, there were very few people taking advantage of the opportunity.

Shadow of Stone

I think part of the curse of my Pendragon Chronicles series is that the books are standalone novels. And it seems that when readers come to the tragic conclusion of Yseult, which ends with no cliffhanger pulling them on, they are not as compelled to immediately buy the next book — only about 25% of the people who buy Yseult also pick up book 2. So I really didn’t have a lot to lose by tossing SoS out there for free for the first time in years.

Before I scheduled the free run, I applied for ads with a number of sites where I’ve gotten good results before. A lot of places don’t want to advertise book 2 in a series, even if the novels are standalone, but I finally got approved for an ad with Manybooks.net for May 21, so I set up the free promo around that. Organizing a free promo is very different than a 99c sale, since with that you want to go out with a bang. Your sales ranking doesn’t disappear like it does when you’re giving the book away for free. I figured for the free run, I wanted my heavy hitter towards the beginning, so that Shadow of Stone would soon be high in a lot of top 100 lists, which in turn would (I hoped) lead to organic downloads also improving the rank. Around the more expensive ad, I scheduled a couple of inexpensive promos through Fiverr, and applied for as many free ads as I could. (You can see the list of free sites I usually apply to here.)

The strategy worked better than I imagined, even though I never heard back from a number of the sites offering free ads. Here’s the breakdown for my ads, other promo activities, downloads, and income during the course of the free run for SoS:

Shadow of Stone free from May 20 – 24

May 20 – Natali FB promo Fiverr ($5.50) – 185 downloads, $21.32 in earnings
NewFreeKindleBooks (free)
May 21 – ManyBooks ($25) – 685 downloads, $27.47 in earnings
EbookDaily (free)
May 22 – Posted to Facebook groups – 263 downloads, $22.94 in earnings
May 23 – Fiverr Bknights ($10.50) – 1382 downloads, $76.08 in earnings
Booklovers’ Heaven (free)
Blog post
Mailing list
More FB groups
May 24 – More FB groups – 363 downloads, $28.90 in earnings

Ask David (free) – ran Shadow of Stone from May 20 – 24

Applied for but no response:

Reading Deals
Frugal Freebies
SF Signal free fiction
OHFB (May 24)
Ebookshabit
Freebooks
Choosy Bookworm
EReader Cafe
Ebooklister
Freebooksy
Iloveebooks
Newfreekindlebooks
ebookasaurus
Armadillo
Freeebooksforme

I also tried to set up a Facebook ad based on impressions, since I figured an ad where I pay for clicks for a free book would hardly be worth it, *g* but it was never approved. That’s an experiment I would still like to try for a free book, but maybe with a permafree where time is not of the essence.

One more thing I did which helps explain the huge jump in downloads towards the end of the free run: just before I was intending to go to bed on May 23, I checked the rankings for SoS, and it was very close to breaking the top 100 overall free on Amazon. Since I’m in Central Europe, that means it was prime time in North America. So rather than shutting down as I had intended, I sent out pleas on Facebook and Twitter, asking people to share the word and help me break the top 100.

It worked.

Here are the rankings of Shadow of Stone when I got up the next morning:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

It was #1 in several other categories as well, but those are the ones Amazon decided to show me. 🙂

During the course of the promo, I sold 51 copies of Yseult, which had previously been limping along at about a sale every other day. Strangely enough, sales of other books not in the series picked up as well, something I rarely experience with a 99c promo.

But the fact remains that the vast majority of my income from this promo was from sales of Yseult. The way the Amazon algorithms are right now, I definitely would not recommend a free promo for a book that is not part of a series. The rank for SoS after its free run (where it broke the top 100) was #126,851. Yseult, on the other hand, was #7580 — at full price. The sales I’ve seen since the promo are mostly a result of the increased rank of the companion novel.

Of course, these numbers don’t come close to those to the profit you can make if you DO get a BookBub ad. But since those are few and far between (my last was in January), I’m very happy with the 4:1 ROI of this particular promo. 🙂

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

 

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter – via Lindsay Buroker

I’ve mentioned before on this site that permafree can be a good method of getting eyes on your books, even if it is no longer as effective as it used to be. This week, Lindsay Buroker has some great suggestions on how to push those free books, despite Amazon’s attempts to hide them:

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter

Highly recommended!

And once you have read that, you might want to check out my list of places where you can advertise permafree books.

Luck and skill to all. 🙂

FREE though Friday – story collection with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

Almost all the way home from the stars

From now through Friday, you can get Almost all the Way Home From the Stars, a collection of seven science fiction stories that I wrote with my friend Jay Lake, who passed away in June after years battling cancer.

The description:

Near future dystopia, colonies in space, galactic empires: this collection has it all! “Almost All the Way Home From the Stars” is a collection of seven science fiction short stories by award winning writers Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The settings range from galactic empires on distant worlds, to a dystopia in the near future warped by fundamentalism, to an alternate US where slavery was never abolished. Here a sampling:

“Rivers of Eden”: In a world transformed by a virus affecting faith, one lone scientist wants to set loose a cure for fanaticism.

“The Big Ice”: On Hutchinson’s World, Vega and Mox are trying to unravel the mystery of the Big Ice — until the family responsibilities Vega has been trying to escape come back to haunt her.

“The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Home From the Stars”: An NSA agent is assigned to look after a Canadian scientist whose husband has left Earth to visit the stars — and the strange dimple in the lake that she is watching, waiting for his return.

Five of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, in various online and print markets, including Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Two stories are new with this collection.

If you get a chance to download and read, I hope you enjoy the stories!

Giving “Free” another chance with Chameleon in a Mirror

Some time ago, after a series of very disappointing free runs that hardly seemed to bump the visibility of the respective books at all, I decided to give up on temporary free runs as an advertizing method. Instead, I tried to increase interest using permafree offerings.

Let’s just say that hasn’t gone so well.

I haven’t been doing a lot of marketing for some time, and it has really been showing in my sales figures. Admittedly I didn’t have a lot of time while I was working on the translation, but it has made me quite convinced that if you don’t make any effort to market and find readers, they are not going to find you.

I published Chameleon in a Mirror earlier this year when I was right in the middle of the translation. I didn’t do anything other than announce it on this blog and post a couple of chapters to my Aphra Behn Page. It sold a few copies and then proceeded to sink into oblivion. Even after over half a year, it still doesn’t have enough reviews for me to book any paid advertizing anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. I updated my list here on this blog of places to notify about a free run, went through it only using the sites that didn’t charge for the announcement, and got back to organizing the cover reveal for Island of Glass.

To my surprise, CIAM took off. Here is where it now stands on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College

Then it got picked up by the German version of Pixel of Ink, XTME. And now the book is practically set to break the Top 100 free books overall on Amazon.de. Here the present ranking:

Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #105 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 – Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop)

Nr. 1 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Belletristik > Populäre Belletristik > Historisch

So if anyone reading this is in Germany, please download a copy! (And everyone else too, of course.) It’s free through October 18. It would be so cool to get into the top 100 here!

Another thing I love about this is that maybe a few more people will also learn about my idol, Aphra Behn. 🙂

Aphra Behn by Peter Lely

Of course, I don’t yet know if this will result in actual sales once the free run is over. Be assured that I will post more next week. My sales on sites other than Amazon are so abysmal, if this works, it might be worth to pull my books elsewhere and put all my eggs back in one basket, as bad as that advice usually is.

ADDENDUM: Chameleon is a Mirror is now #89 on Amazon.de!

Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new “Countdown Deals”

I published my first ebook, Yseult, in January 2012, pretty much simultaneous with the introduction of KDP Select. I opted in and set my first promotion for a mere week after publication — and I didn’t have a clue how lucky I was. I got a couple of quick reviews as a result of review copies I’d given away, and my brand new little baby (or rather big fat hunking baby — the hard copy book comes in at over 600 pages) got picked up by no less than Pixel of Ink, which at the time was *the* way to ensure that a freebie promotion would be successful.

Back then, using free days with KDP Select was an excellent way for a new indie writer to gain exposure and (after the free run) sell books. That first month as an indie publisher, I sold 242 books. I added more titles, mostly collections of my previously published short stories, and by spacing regular free runs across all my titles, I could increase my visibility as a whole and ensure that I continued to sell books.

But then Amazon made a couple of “corrections” to how free downloads were counted towards popularity and sales rankings (the infamous “Amazon algorithms”), and they hid the top 100 free book listings on pages that didn’t as easily show up when browsing. Free days became less and less effective as a marketing tool, to the point where it now is basically useless, unless you have a simultaneous ad running on Bookbub (which is very pricey).

Nowadays, you have to pay to give books away.

As a result, I and many, many others have been pulling out of KDP Select. Why have your books exclusive to Amazon when it doesn’t do you any good, right? Now Amazon has introduced something new to make Select more attractive to writers again: what they call “Countdown Deals.” This is how it works:

– Your book can be discounted for up to seven days. The duration of the sale is visible on the book’s page on Amazon, as well as the regular price, so that readers can see that they really are getting a “deal.”

– Your royalty rate remains the same even while the book is on sale. So instead of getting only 35% on a book marked down to 99c, you get 70%. The income is still naturally quite a bit less, but if it results in increased exposure, it’s worth it. And it certainly beats giving your book away.

– Amazon has set up a dedicated “Kindle Countdown Deals” page at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals – but of course there is no guarantee your Countdown Deal will get listed.

I don’t have many books in KDP Select anymore, and those that I do are basically there because I forgot to take them out, or I’m too swamped to upload them elsewhere. But hey, I’ve decided to give it a whirl, see if it’s any better than free days. Amazon has made it quite easy to set up a promotion. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of my books:

On the dashboard, you click on “Manage Benefits” and then just fill in the details for your sale. I decided to go with a seven day, single price 99c sale of my short story collection Dragon Time to test the waters, starting tomorrow Nov. 4 and going to Nov. 10. You can also have a sale where the price gradually returns to normal. For example, for my Dragon Time sale, I could have increased the price halfway through the sale to 1.99 if I had wanted to.

It will be interesting to see what good this does, if any. I’m suspecting the exposure won’t be enough to make KDP Select attractive enough to return to, at least not for most of us. But we’ll see — starting tomorrow.

I will naturally report my results when the promotion is over.

Related posts:

E-book promotions: Countdown – meh. Permafree – yay! (kinda)

“Promoting Ebooks with KDP Select”

Marketing demands muscle out the writing — yet again. Oh, and Iceland too.

I have two group promos coming up again very soon (I will make the official announcements when the time comes). While I really need another push for my sales, which have been in free fall this month, the organization is taking a huge chunk out of my writing time. I only managed to complete another 1000 words on the Murano novella, which I am now intending to call Island of Glass. I liked “Prison of Glass” a lot, but “Island of Glass” goes better with the pre-made cover I bought.

Besides group promo organization, I also decided to make my little fairy tale collection, Never Ever After, permanently free. To that end, I both made it free on Smashwords and uploaded it to a new aggregating site, Draft2Digital, that promised to be able to get free ebooks available on the iTunes store. And they did! Draft2Digital is still in beta, so if you’re interested in their services, you need to write them to get a beta code, but they are very fast, and very helpful, and I can only recommend them. Check it out: Never Ever After is now available for free for the iPad! If anyone has one of those overpriced toys, please do me the favor any download my mini-collection. The point of perma-free is too get some attention, and that won’t happen without downloads. It’s not free on Amazon yet, btw. First Ama has to notice that it’s free elsewhere and price match. I will probably be asking for some help with that at some point, but not tonight.

One other business-slash-writing project was distracting me from new words this week — I compiled the stories for the upcoming collection Story Hunger and sent them to my editor.

Then there was the personal stuff that consumed a lot of time: my father is turning 80 this year, and he wants to get the family together in the summer for a late b-day celebration. Flight prices between Europe and the US have become outrageous at high season, but the cheapest are through Iceland Air. So Chris and I decided to make that into a vacation: we’ll be spending a little under a week in Iceland before we continue on to Seattle. Then of course, once I booked the flight, I immediately started checking into hotels and rental cars, and got lost on Tripadvisor and Expedia …

Wishing everyone a great week!

Promoting Ebooks with a Free Run through KDP Select

Note, Nov. 2014: Now that I have returned to using free as a strategy for promoting my books, I am updating the list here again. If you notice any links that don’t work or have any suggestions for links to add, please let me know in the comments!

If you’re promoting a 99c sale rather than a free run, you can find my list of sites for that here.

During the month of February 2012, I did four free promotions with KDP Select, and I’ve started to get the hang of it. After the freebies, my ebooks have bounced into the top 100 Paid in their categories. As I write this, Yseult (which was free for 24 hours on Feb. 29) has the following rankings:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#59 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

If you check the popularity ranking for Historical Fantasy in ebooks, it’s even #3. 🙂 (And Dragon Time is #8!)

I promised a bunch of people I would write a blog post about what I do leading up to and during a free promotion, so here goes.

There are several folks you might want to contact about your free promotion once you’ve scheduled it. These sites will announce your book either 1) if they think it’s worthy, or 2) if you’ve paid them enough. The sites that don’t charge for announcements usually don’t guarantee being listed. With the paid sites of course you do (but note that not all of them will promote everything).

Free:

Indie Book of the Day (No erotica.)

FreeBookSy (Free and paid.)

eBookLister (Note: If you’ve submitted a freebie for the same book before, you get an error message stating that your listing will be corrected.)

Book Angel – Book must be PG-13!

Ask David

Read Free.ly

The eReader Cafe (Free and paid. Book should have at least 3 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher.)

Choosy Bookworm (Free and paid. Book must be at least 70 pages long & have at least 8 reviews with a 4+ average.)

Free Books (Hands down the easiest place to submit the info for your free promo — only ASIN and dates!)

BookScream (While they’re in beta, all ads on BookScream are free.)

eBooks Habit (Free and paid; for a listing, books must have at least 3 reviews. No erotica.)

Reading Deals (Requires a minimum of 5 reviews & a 4.0 average rating. No graphic sexual content.)

SF Signal Free Fiction Tip Line (For science fiction and fantasy)

Frugal Freebies

Awesomegang (Free and paid.)

iLoveEbooks

New Free Kindle Books

eBooksaurus

Armadillo EBooks

Bookpraiser (Free and paid. Requires you to like, tweet, subscribe, etc.) Note: The last time I tried to enter a book here, it kept insisting that my book description could be no longer than 500 characters, even though my text editor said it was under the limit. The count it finally accepted was less than 250 characters. Go figure …

 

Paid:

(BTW, before booking any paid ads, you might want to check out my post about Alexa rankings for advertising sites.)

Bknights on Fiverr (As the location indicates, promotions here cost $5, plus 50c fee)

Ereader News Today (Prices starting at $30)

EBookDaily – Still in beta, and the price is donate whatever you think is appropriate.

Book Basset ($7.99 per day. Requires at least 10 reviews with a rating of 3.5 or higher.)

ManyBooks.net (Prices starting at $25. Requires at least 10 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher. Slots fill up early, so you should probably apply at least 2 weeks in advance, if not more.)

Ignite Your Book (99c for a listing on their page, and another $10 for the complete promo, including tweets and newsletter, which you need to order separately.)

Bookgorilla (Prices starting at $40.)

EBookStage (Must have at least 5 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher. Promotion packages starting at $12, but can be free with enough “promotion points.”)

Books Butterfly (A number of various pricing options depending on how many readers your ad will reach.)

Sweet Free Books ($5. At least 5 reviews and a 3.5 rating.)

Digital Book Today (Free and paid; books must be at least 100 pages long and have at least 18 reviews with a rating of 4 or higher. No erotica.)

BookRaid – Pricing per click, starting at 5c, with a minimum threshold of $2 — so at less than 40 clicks, the listing is free. Maximum charge $10. For fiction, the book must be at least 120 pages long. It cannot have been promoted in the last 8 weeks.
https://bookraid.com/

Good Kindles

Freebookshub.com ($8 donation for a listing)

Kindle Nation Daily (costs lots)

BookBub (Various pricing schemes according to genre and whether the book is free or not. VERY expensive, but most who have used it think it’s worth it.)

Robin Reads (Listings start at $40.)

One Hundred Free Books (Listings start at $75)

DailyFreeBooks

Booklover’s Heaven (Requires at least 10 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher.)

Kindle Spotlight Book Promo

Snickslist (Listings start at $1. Note: this can only be done while the book is free!)

xtme:englishbooks (A German site for English ebooks)

During your promo

There are also a number of things you can do during or shortly before your free days to help potential readers find your book:

1. Post it to Addicted to Ebooks (You need to register to be able to post here, and you have to post on a day your book is free.)

2. For erotica, announce it on The Naughty List

3. Announce your freebie on LibraryThing and Goodreads.

4. Blog it, natch.

5. Post about your free book on your other social networking sites (Linked In, Google+, etc.) I try to pace this, since I have the sites that allow it set to automatically post to Twitter.

6. Announce it on the Kindle Boards (Links To Free Books) while it’s free.

7. Post on Facebook pages on your free day(s):

Your Facebook Wall

Free Kindle Books
eReader1 US (Guidelines for posting are here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ereader1-us/book-promotions-including-self-promo-by-authors-and-publishers-and-their-friends/448662358501661)
Amazon Kindle
EBook Korner Kafe (You have to like and share a Focus Post in order to be able to post here.)
Indie Kindle (You have to be a member to post to their promotion page.)

8. Tweet (use hashtags #FreeKindleBook #freekindle #freebook #free #kindlepromo). Don’t forget to thank those who retweet!

9. Send a message to @kindlenews on twitter (over 20,000 followers). If you write in the genre of fantasy and science fiction, send a message to @kindlefantasies (600 followers). Here are few more potential accounts to notify, but be judicious. No one wants to be spamming twitterverse with ads for your book: @DigitalBkToday @Bookyrnextread @kindleebooks @Kindlestuff @KindleEbooksUK @KindleBookKing @KindleFreeBook @free_kindle @FreeReadFeed @4FreeKindleBook @FreeKindleStuff @KindleUpdates @Booksontheknob @Kindle_promo @IndAuthorSucess @CheapKindleDly @KindleDaily (Note: in order for them to retweet, many of these require that you follow them first.)

All the promotion is a lot of work, but it can pay off. Even for someone who is writing in the unsalable genre of Arthurian fiction. 🙂 BTW, I update this list fairly regularly, so if you have a suggestion for a site to add or remove, please let me know in the comments below!

Related posts:

E-book promotions: Countdown – meh. Permafree – yay! (kinda)

Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new “Countdown Deals”

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Moving forward on editing and another free promotion

Despite the fact that I managed to catch an eye infection from my son or my granddaughter, I’ve been making consistent progress on the editing of Shadow of Stone. I just try to close my right eye regularly to rest it. But it has definitely slowed me down, and it doesn’t help that I spent a couple of hours in doctors’ offices yesterday.

I also got samples off to several editors I’m considering hiring. That’s going to eat up all the profits I’ve made on my ebooks until now, but I’m investing in the future here. As opposed to all my other works that were previously published somewhere or another, even if it was in a foreign language, Shadow of Stone has not yet been through an editor. And while I’ve often been told I deliver very clean copy, I still want to do everything in my power to make sure that a book with my name on it has as few mistakes as possible.

I’ve also got another FREEBIE going on this week! Today and tomorrow my collection Dragon Time and Other Stories is free, so go grab yourself a copy while you can! I’ve also reduced the price on Yseult to 3.99. At 4.95, sales had stalled out, only averaging about one a day. Here’s hoping at the lower price sales will pick up again a bit.

Right now I mostly just want to go lie down and give my poor red eye a break, but I have to announce the free promotion all over the place. And yes, that is one of the big disadvantages of the ebook revolution. I know the idea of having to do all my own “advertizing” was scaring me off from taking this step for a long time. I suspect there are quite a few other writers out there who feel much like I do. 🙂