Going “Free” in the New Writing World
In the world of self-publishing, there so many stories on the internet about how best to promote and market your books. Social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc.) seems to be at the top of most lists, along with book signings and virtual blog tours. These promotions, unfortunately, take a tremendous amount of time—time which pulls you away from your writing. And frankly, I am not convinced it is worth it.
In my experience as a self publisher, I have found that the single best marketing tool is Amazon.com’s 90-day Kindle exclusive contract. Which, while it doesn’t allow you to sell the ebook version of your book anywhere else during that window of time, gives you five free promotion days. Meaning, you can give your book away for free download on the days you choose.
How does this help you sell books? Here’s how:
In the new book world, there are numerous websites which publish daily lists of free Kindle books. So people looking to download a good book for nothing, religiously check these lists. Amazon.com also shows the top 100 free books downloaded daily in various categories. Needless to say, book readers with Kindles also check the Amazon top 100 free books daily.
My first book in The Frank Boff Mystery Series, The Hurting Game, got over 1,000 downloads the first time I ran a three-day giveaway, downloads in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and Canada. In my main category of Hardboiled Mystery, I rose to as high as #4 on the top 100 downloads list. I also got to #11 on the big, all-encompassing category of Mystery.
One of the benefits of making the top 10 in a free fiction category is that besides readers, there are agents, editors, movie producers, and even publishers who are known to check these lists frequently for a book and a writer worth signing. That is a big plus.
Another plus, of course, is you get your book and your name out there to readers who might like your novel so much they buy your next one. Or they spread the word to friends about the book. And by the time that friend goes to download your book, it is no longer for free. Hopefully, they buy.
I put the second book in my mystery series, The Punishing Game, on two-day free promotion, and it did far better than the first one. I had 1,777 downloads, both here and outside the country, including 62 in the UK, 10 in Germany, 11 in Canada, and 2 each in France and Italy. I rose to as high as #2 in Hardboiled giveaways, #3 in the category of Crime, and #7 in Mystery. I like to believe that the increased number of downloads for book 2 were partially a result of readers who downloaded and liked book 1.
Most important to me, this time my giveaway started generating sales, both of The Punishing Game AND The Hurting Game.
Well, as this post attests to, I guess you know the writing and publishing world has changed dramatically when an author like me gets excited about giving his books away for free.