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Friday, June 30, 2017

Free Book Promos

Have you ever downloaded a free book or discovered a new author from downloading one of their books free?

I believe in the power of promoting free books. I also know a ton of authors who disagree with this strategy and have never and may never price their book free for any period time. Their argument is their time and financial investment. Every book has a cost to the authors including the blood, sweat and tears to write it. Even an author working on a very tight budget will have a couple hundred invested into their book and they want return on their investment. 

Doing a free book promotion is really tough to swallow. After all there's no money to be paid only money to be spent especially if the author then pays for advertising.

I started my working career in retail and did just about every job except management. One of the things I did at Kmart many years ago was set ad signs according to the flyer. Flyers are still popular for grocery stores and retailers. It's their weekly sales. So I'm going to propose a simple scenario.

You've been saving money to buy a new TV. It goes on sale at Walmart marked down from $249 to $189. It's a bargain so you head to Walmart with your five year old daughter. You put the brand new TV in your basket, proud of the deal you got that you'll be telling all your friends about and you wheel towards the isle but a flashy phone case catches your eye. You glance at the broken one hanging off your phone and grab the new one. It's only 9.99 so you say what the heck I just saved $60 with my new TV. You place the phone cover in the basket and head towards the front, passing the toy aisles. Your daughter screams "Moana!" You look at the doll, she's on sale for $5.99. You rarely splurge and buy her toys outside birthday and Christmas and the smile in her eyes and sparkle on her face is so adorable as she stares at the doll. You give in and hand her the Moana doll. Her face lights up as she takes the toy. You finally get to the cashier and see Finding Dory at the checkout counter. You've been wanting to see it and by buying it, it's an investment and you and your daughter can watch it together. It's only $19.99 and you saved money with the TV right? 
The cashier rings up your items to the tune of $224.97 plus tax. You just saved nothing.

Now I hear you laughing at my story because we've all done it and retail stores count on you doing it. Sales and flyers are retailers way of getting you into their store.

Promoting a free books works the same way. Really, is a reader going pay $2.99 for your book or one of their favorite authors' new release? Yup, they're going to go for their favorite author's new release and leave your unknown book sitting on the shelf even though the blurb and cover intrigued them.

Offering a free book encourages readers to test the waters risk free. It's your way of getting them into your store. Once they read it and love it they check out your other books and slowly start buying them. 

I know that's a gross exaggeration. It works more like this. You put your book free for a few days and in that time get 1,000 downloads. Out of that 1,000 downloads 10% or 100 people read your book soon after buying it. Another 10% or 10 people fall in love with it and seek your other books and tell their friends. 10 people, that's about it so why go free again? 

Simple 1,000 people now have your book on their kindle. The other 900 may at some point read it, enjoy it and tell their all friends about how awesome it was. Even if they don't read it they may see your name again on another book and remember seeing it somewhere before so they become interested. 

Another reason to go free at least for a few days is with book 1 in a series. If the reader enjoys, you just made monetary sales on the other books in the series. 

Something else to consider is if the book that your putting free is on kindle and in audio through Audible. If so you may get audio sales through the time the book is free meaning you just made monetary sales.

The end product you just got 1,000 people in your store.

Here's the results from a 5 day free promo I just did. Keep in mind advertising doesn't have to be expensive but it does take shopping around and experimenting. My book is a stand alone available in kindle, paperback and audio.

Day One - Price Dropped Books for $13.50. (advertise ebooks)
Day Two - AudaVoxx $11.00 (advertise audio)
Day Three - eBook Daily - $5.00 (advertise ebooks)
Days 4 & 5 - Facebook Ad - $10.00 (advertise anything)

Spent a grand total of $39.50. Not bad. My goal was 1,000 free downloads and 10 audio sales.

My results were
929 international downloads
7 audiobook sales
953 KENP pages read
1 sold at regular price

I didn't quite meet the goal but came very close. I consider the promo a success. If I stick with my 10% rule 92 people read the book and 9.2 really enjoyed it and will buy more of my books in the future.

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