If you’re a writer you’ll know you can’t just write a brilliant book, have it superbly edited with an excellent cover, and then upload it to Amazon and wait for people to buy it in their droves. (Ha! How I wish!) You have to let people know it’s there.
A few weeks ago I enrolled a couple of my books in Amazon’s KDP Select program, which means that for ninety days, they are available exclusively to Amazon. There are plenty of reasons why that’s not such a good idea – it limits my market, it plays into Amazon’s monolithic hands, etc – but in the end I decided to go with it because I felt the benefits outweighed the bad. There are a number of ways being part of KDP has given my books a boost, and one of them is the ability to make my book free for five days during the ninety-day enrolment period.
You might think giving your book away for nothing would do nothing to help sales, but I tried it and it works. Last week I made The Antique Love free, from Sunday until Thursday, but I didn’t just randomly decide on a date, bring the price to zero, and hope for the best. I tried to do everything I could to make the five free days count for as much as possible.
Here’s a few of the things I did:
- Chose Sunday as a start day. Apparently lots of people download on this day.
- Well in advance of my free days (you should do this several weeks before if you can, as some of these places have a waiting list) I got in touch with a LOT of sites that list your free books for you in newsletters/websites/FB/Twitter, etc. You can find a handy list of such sites on the excellent Author Marketing Club website. Not all will accept you. Some are choosier than others. The newsletter with by far the biggest reach is BookBub. Sadly they wouldn’t accept The Antique Love, and I suspect one of the big reasons why not is that I’d made the book exclusive to Amazon, and they like their advertised books to be as widely available as possible. I did get accepted by eReader News Today, though, and their reach is also enormous. Some of these advertisers will promote your free/discounted books for free. Some of them you have to pay. Ereader News Today charges a fee, but it was well worth it, as you’ll see.
- In advance of the free days, I did the usual spreading the word – on Twitter, here on my blog, on FB and in some FB book groups I belong to.
- During the free days I tweeted five free book promoters per day, eg @eBookDaily, @FreeKindleDaily, etc, with hashtags such as #free, #kindle, #freebook, and so on. You can imagine how fabulous my Twitter feed looked. I tried to intersperse these tweets with some more interesting stuff, such as photos and links to articles, etc. I staggered the tweets, as well, so they weren’t one after another. I hoped the relentless promo wouldn’t annoy people too much, and hopefully it didn’t. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff?
- This is an important point: in the front and back of The Antique Love, I gave information to readers on where they could find me and, if they’d enjoyed my book, where they could find my other novels – in particular my latest release, Palace of Deception. I also asked very nicely if readers would be kind enough to leave a review, along with the links to Amazon and Goodreads.
So, what happened after all of this? Well, at the end of five days I was staggered to find I’d had 7,500 downloads of The Antique Love, plus thousands of pages read across all my novels in the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Sales of The Antique Love have continued since then, particularly in the US (no surprise, as that’s where nearly all my advertising was).
Besides this, several readers have pre-ordered Palace of Deception, and so far I’ve had ten 4 and 5 star reviews added on Amazon, with more going on every day. That’s great news!
And here are some headlines and snippets of some of the reviews I’ve received for The Antique love recently:
“READ THIS BOOK! It’s beautiful and it reads the way a romance should. BRAVO Ms.Fairfax, an astounding job.”
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I was really pleased with the results of offering The Antique Love for free. The thing that gave me absolutely the greatest pleasure was seeing that my book brought so much pleasure to other people.
Although it’s no longer free, The Antique Love is still available on on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon IN, Amazon AU, and all the other Amazons, and will be available in other stores from September.
I hope you enjoyed finding out about my experiment with free books. Do you ever download free books from Amazon? Where do you find out about them? And authors, have you had success with KDP Select, and do you think it’s worth the exclusivity?
If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!