One feature of the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program is the ability to offer your digital book for free, for up to five days during the ninety day enrollment period. The downside is, obviously, that you don’t get paid on the free books. This promotional program has sparked some controversy; the concern being that offering free eBooks devalues their worth and creates unfair competition for those authors who don’t want to give their books away.
I suppose it’s all how you look at it. We tend to romanticize writing, but in reality books are a product. When was the last time you got a coupon for a free product? Did you assume that it wasn’t any good because they offered it for free? Businesses do it all the time. And like it or not, when you’re a self-published author you’re also a business owner. Your reputation depends on the quality of your product. Your success depends on your ability to get your product and name in front of as many readers as possible.
I’m not sure I’d try the free eBook strategy if I only had one book to market though I’ve heard that it boosts sales of single titles once the promotion is over. The free downloads seem to push books a little closer to the front of the Kindle’s Book Store’s long list of titles, but they constantly revise. My plan was to offer the first book of a two book series as a freebie for several days with the hope that readers would like it well enough to buy the second. On September 18 & 19, readers downloaded almost 4,500 free copies of The Bewitching Hour. Over the next few weeks, paid sales for The Devil’s Own Luck were about 2:1 and I’m assuming that at least some of those sales were due to the free book promotion. Would I rather have had the $12,000. I’d have received if the books had been sold rather than free? Of course. But as a new author nobody knew who I was and there are over 14,000 historical romances available in the Kindle Book Store. I needed to do some type of promotion or I would end up in Amazon’s slushpile of invisible authors.
Promoting the free downloads wasn’t too difficult, considering I didn’t know what I was doing. Friends and fellow-bloggers gave me a shout out on their blogs and on Twitter. I tweeted three times a day starting a few days before the promotion. I also took advantage of some of the sites recommended on http://ebook-reader-vergleich.org/promoting-ebooks-with-kdpselect.html It’s packed with information, so if you’re interested doing a free promotion, consider it a must-read. You can also go on Twitter and find a ton of sites that will send out tweets announcing your book. Don’t overdo the tweets, though. You’ll lose customers if they think they’re being spammed.
Will I do another free eBook promotion? Yes. It was a little painful giving away all those free books, but the way I look at it, so far I’ve made at least a couple hundred dollars from it and The Bewitching Hour is now loaded on 4,500 eReaders (4,650 if you count paid sales) which I think will lead to more sales down the line.
For anyone who downloaded The Bewitching Hour and The Devil’s Own Luck the first week they were out, you can download the newer version (the spacing is improved) by going to Amazon’s Manage My Kindle Page and clicking on the action button.
Next week, I’ll touch on book covers… And paranoia.