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Reaching Readers: Free Book Promotions For Indie Authors

Reaching Readers: Free Book Promotions for Indie Authors

In this really helpful post, English children's author Christopher Casburn, who self-publishes as Christopher Joyce, shares his data on his latest free book promotion campaign and also offers a great list of sites to help you promote your own free offer.

Photo of Chris Casburn signing a bookAs I finalise book three in my series of children's books about The Creatures of Chichester, I thought I’d share my baby steps into my first free book promotion on Amazon. I hope to get book three out this summer, so I thought that more good reviews and greater awareness of the first two books would be a good thing.

The promotion took place from 1st to 3rd of May 2014. I assumed that people had more time on the weekend to browse for free books. A few of the million blogs I’d read seemed to back this up. I also decided to put both my books on at the same time, simply to avoid the pain of tweeting and emailing and doing all the stuff you’re supposed to over and over again.

It would probably have been better to put one as free followed by the other but at least I was doing something so don’t beat me up just yet!

Sharing the Results

Cover of Christopher Joyce's first bookThe score on the doors for the giveaway is hardly going to be an ALLi record. However, I thought it might be good to share what a new-boy (and reluctant tweeter – have you picked that up already?) could achieve. The score on the doors was:

  •  304 free download for both books
  • 158 for book one
  • 146 for book two
  • 66% Thursday, 39% Friday, 43% Saturday, 10% Sunday (even though it was three days)
  • 37% came from amazon.com. 38% from amazon.co.uk. 21% from Japan and odds and sods from others

The major lesson learned was that some of the sites that promote free Kindle books need 7 to 10 days notice before the start of your promotion. So don’t wait until the day of your promotion. These include:

I did tweet a bit and used Facebook to tell everyone about the promotion. I even splashed out $10 in a moment of euphoria to promote my post on Facebook to reach friends of my friends, brothers, mates, family – or something like that!

Creatures of Chichester Book 2 Cover EBOOKI also updated my metadata (the buzzword at LBF this year). This meant changing the categories my books appeared in and adding a few new key words. I read somewhere that you should not repeat the title of your book, so I deleted words like Chichester and Creatures and added some of the animals in my books like falcons, dogs and cats. My books ended up as number one in kids books/animals/spiders and insects, also number one in kid’s books/animals, hamsters and guinea pigs, and number two and three in kids books/mystery and detectives.

The Net Results

So far there has been a slight increase in paid sales, but nothing I can retire on, and I wait to see if positive reviews come flooding in. Some blogs suggest that you are more likely to get poor reviews from free giveaways so be warned. I also used http://www.booklinker.net/ to direct readers to the correct Amazon site from my website (i.e. amazon.com in USA, Amazon.co.uk in UK etc.). This was quite painless and seems to be better than having loads of links from your website for example.

So there you have it. My next step is to get on more platforms like Lulu and Ingram Spark. This was painfully obvious from most discussions at the London Book Fair. Oh, and one day I’ll even understand what the heck Goodreads is all about!

If I live to tell the tale, I’ll share it with you – just don’t ask me to tweet about it!

In spite of Chris's aversion to Twitter, you may want to share this post that way, so here's out suggested tweet:

“Great list of sites on which to promote your free book promotion, via @CreaturesofChi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/free-book-promotions/ via @IndieAuthorALLi”


Author: Chris Casburn

Christopher Joyce's first book in the Creatures of Chichester series was released just before Christmas 2012. His second book, "The Creatures of Chichester - the one about the mystery blaze" was released in October 2013. He lives in the centre of Chichester and also runs a garden design business. The outline for book three The Creatures of Chichester - the one about the curious cloud is taking shape right now. For more information, please visit is website: www.creaturesofchichester.com.


This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. For all of those authors who think about using free promotion sites and blogs, I can suggest Kindlerella. It’s completely free and you get a free exposure on their blog for a while.

  2. […] There are tons of blog posts sharing a case study of a single author’s results from a campaign run on book promotion sites. For example, here’s a case study of a young adult book that ran a deal on BookBub, a free Kindle promotion for literary fiction, and a children’s author running a 10-site promotion. […]

  3. Hey SPA crew…

    We just launched ReadingDeals.com which allows you to submit your free or bargain book to us, and we will choose some and send them to our list of readers, who choose which genres they want to receive books for.

    Hope you can add us to the list of places that authors can promote their books at! Thanks!

  4. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about any of it to analyse or even criticise. Approaching the foothills of such knowledge and experience. All my own fault, I hasten to add! I just write books and up to now cannot be a***ed to promote. But I feel I am being inexorably drawn into it if I want good feedback and recognition of my work. Might be all a bit late for me, in my 80th year! When I think of all those earlier rejection slips…

  5. The debate whether or not give a book for free even for a week or couple of days is a controversial. I share James Altucher’s view that people in general don’t value anything that they get for free – be it a book, a business or whatsoever. There’s also the promotion to offer payback guarantee for your book if the reader proves he or she read your book. This is a very good way to promote your products and in fact a few people will want their money back. Did anyone here try it?

  6. Interesting post, Chris. I experimented with Amazon & their countdown promotion against free promo. I will never do free again. I rose in paid ranks to #1 with countdown, in two categories, and made it into bestseller paid listing #25,. I earned healthy royalties and gained new readers who purchase my other books. My sales have improved. I went through same process with same book a few months later, this time I did no promoting at all. I told no one it was on offer. I made it to #3 in two categories, and squeezed into bestseller list for 48 hrs. I gained royalties, readers, and confidence. I can now use bestseller tag with my head held high, should I wish.

    By the way, I run a site for authors, and showcase books. Happy to help you, it’s free. The Virtual Bookcase link is on my personal site. http://Www.glynissmy. com over 500 books are showcased

  7. Giveaways are two-edged – you lose money but gain exposure. Like most s-p ventures it’s a gamble, but one I’m beginning to think worth a go. Good Reads where I’ve just finished my first giveaway got 149 people interested in my book, which is at least something I know about. Presumably they will talk and maybe recommend or even buy or encourage others to buy. I think, Theo, there’s quite a difference between giving away an ebook and a paper book. So many ebooks are being added to the Kindle slush pile these days. Paper books get passed on and not just deleted.

  8. I’ve never given my book away for free, but I recently did my first 99 cent sale on both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. I didn’t do much to promote it, but I nevertheless got a big jump in number of books sold during the sale itself. But things pretty well instantly went back to their pre-sale levels afterwards.

    I may well try it again, but making more of an effort to promote it, and staggering out my sale days a bit more rather than bunching them all together.

    I confess that on a gut level, I am reluctant to compete on price – to give my book away for free or to sell it at a huge discount – as I believe it sends the wrong message as to how much I believe the book is really worth.

  9. Hey Chris…

    Sorry that we annoyed you. We have had quite a few people over the past few years get very upset because they thought their submission meant automatic acceptance, so we attempt to make it very clear, apparently annoyingly so, to avoid such confusion. Since we made such changes, those complaints have been reduced to zero.

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