It's easy for indie authors to get so caught up in the latest vogue for book marketing that they forget about tried-and-trusted methods that have gone before. So today Katharine E Smith, indie author and director of the small indie publishing house Heddon Publishing, revisits the notion of free days on Kindle to help you evaluate whether that's something you should still be doing for your self-published books.
When I first decided to self-publish, I remember speaking to another writer who had done extremely well from using the free Kindle promotional tool available to books enrolled in KDP Select, so I thought I’d give it a go with my first novel. I rushed into it with very little planning and was inevitably disappointed! To her 12,000 free downloads and multiple daily sales thereafter, I achieved about 200 and a subsequent sales flatline.
Since then, I have written and published three further novels of my own, and published about thirty books for other writers. I have also learned a lot more about running free promos.
Yes, they go against the general guidance to ‘go wide’! You are giving away for free the book you spent hundreds of hours writing, and there are so many titles to compete against. I know it can seem a futile exercise. So why bother?
Reasons to Go Free
If, like me, you have extremely limited marketing time, you might find that running a free Kindle promo from time-to-time is a fairly quick, easy way of giving your books a little boost.
I have had some good successes:
- about 4,000 downloads
- new readers for my mailing list
- some glowing reviews
A good free promo can also result in a few sales and increased KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) read.
As Part of a Wider Book Marketing Plan
Ideally it should form part of an overall marketing plan, to keep up momentum, but it is something you can do once every ninety days if you want to, and if you plan it well, it can be very worthwhile.
Top Tips to Make the Most of a Free Kindle Promotion
A few pointers to get you started:
- Plan – give yourself a month or so to set things up properly.
- Make sure the freebie is on Amazon UK an US – you have to set both separately.
- Choose dates wisely – select dates when you will be available to do a bit of live promotional activity.
- Start mid-week – it’s a good time for people who are looking for their weekend reading.
- Put the word out – if nobody knows your book is free, they won’t be downloading it. There are numerous sites where you can register your freebie, for no fee – although they may not guarantee your listing. (NB Collate the book details first – author name, ASIN, URLs, etc. – you will have to input these again and again.)
- Select the right categories – don’t risk getting a bad review when your dark thriller is downloaded by people looking for a bit of light-hearted romance.
- Set a budget – if you can afford paid-for advertising, decide how much, and choose wisely. Some sites and services are definitely better than others.
- Stick to your budget – every promo will hit a peak. When those figures start to fall, it can be tempting to spend more. Don’t do it!
- Tell people when the promo is live – there are some great Facebook groups which you can notify and post to.
- Keep records – Amazon rankings, daily downloads, numbers of reviews, which sites/FB groups you have had success with. This will all be useful for measuring success and planning future promos.
Case Study: Amongst Friends
Over a five-day promo for my third novel, Amongst Friends, I achieved 3,091 free downloads, in return for $54 in paid-for advertising. (I normally budget for $50 or below.) The freebie was followed by 14 paid sales in the subsequent seven days, over 7000 KENP read, and three new reviews.
OVER TO YOU Do you still use Free Kindle Days and do they work for you? Do you have any top tips to add to Katharine's list? We'd love to hear about your experience!#Authors - if you're on #KDPSelect, , read @KatharineESmith's top tips on how to take advantage of their free promotion days for your #selfpub books Click To Tweet
OTHER VALUABLE ADVICE ON BOOK PROMOTION
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive