Can a Free Kindle Promotion Increase The Sales of Books?
Many authors and publishers alike would love to know whether giving away copies of a book is likely to promote, or harm, the sales of any given title. Fortunately we now have a platform that is not only simple to switch on and off, but easy to track. With KDP Select, my publisher and I recently went through the process of offering my first novel, Hellbound, for free on Kindle. The reason to give this option a try was to help celebrate and market the fact that the sequel to Hellbound, I Am Satan, had just been made available in stores.
The results where pretty conclusive: Over the five days that Hellbound was put up for free, it was downloaded close to 4000 times, which is more than it sold in the past year for eBooks. Not only that, after the free period finished, sales were still higher by quadruple the previous month AND sales for I Am Satan were given a boost as well. The fact that the title rose to Number 1 on the Amazon Fantasy Rankings for free kindle books, also meant it was sitting next to books the likes of Game of Thrones and The Hobbit. This gave some added exposure and put it in the periphery of customers who might yet have taken the leap to actually purchase the book. It certainly makes sense, especially if there is a sequel in the mix, that the more people you have engaged in the story, the more who are likely to continue the journey with your other books. You have to stand by your writing.
So, what are the steps needed to take to ensure some success when giving your book away, and what considerations need to be kept in mind?
- KDP Select. This is an Amazon based platform, where you can offer any title of yours for free for a total of five days within any 90-day period. That means you can offer it for five consecutive days once during three months, or, you can split the days and have it up for one, two or three day lots. At first I thought this felt a little restrictive because we wanted to put Hellbound up for free for a whole month. However, what we learned was that five days was easily enough. The first three days, the book jumped up the charts and downloads were a lot stronger. For the last two days, the rank dropped over all, and it felt like interest had moved on to other free titles. Why? Promotion.
- Promotion. There are a number of great sites where you can advertise that you’re giving your book away for a limited time. Many of these sites are completely free of charge and service their members. Most of these sites update daily, so if you have top billing on their page for two days, it starts to get pushed down by other newcomers. Hence, the first couple of days are when you get the most juice out of your giveaway. The trick here is to make sure you’re up on as many sites as you can all at once. It means your book will jump up the rankings on Amazon and, once it’s there, people paying attention to which books are popular will also download your book. It’s a flow on effect.
- 3. Which sites to use? There are plenty out there, but I’ll stick a few of the free ones, since if you’re giving a title away for free for the first time, it’s hard to justify a further advertising expense.
Pixel of Ink : This site was the biggest membership base I saw on Facebook and Twitter. A well-run site. I’d recommend to get in early, since they receive a lot of submissions. Notify them of your promotion at least 3-4 weeks before it happens.
Digital Ink Today: Are active on both Facebook and Twitter.
Books on the Knob: Also have some reviews and show discounted books as well.
The Kindle Daily Deal: Offer both priced and free title lists. Run by a friendly author called Phil Torcivia. A small cost of downloading one of Phil’s books is applied, but it’s well worth it, since he’s a talented writer in his own right.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of sites out there, but it’s a start. If you know of any other great ones who I haven’t mentioned, feel free to list them in the comments section below.
So there you have it. For me, giving something away for free was a positive experience and has had a significant flow on effect to expose my other books. It’s well worth the risk, unless you’re already selling as many copies as Fifty Shades of Grey.
I Am Satan and Hellbound are available now on Kindle for just $2.99USD each.