If you are still wondering why or how you might have your book available for free, then read the previous post on giving away your eBook for free. However, it’s not enough just to make your book free. You have to tell people about it. You need to tell everyone you know, and far more that you don’t, that your book is free.
Tell everyone your book is free
Without promotion you may well get a few 100’s of downloads. With some promotion that’s likely to jump to 4 figures plus. That’s not just more people who potentially may read and review your book (realistically many of us have Kindles full of free books we haven’t got around to reading), but once the book goes back to paid Amazon will give it a bit more visibility in the paid listings.
How much visibility? That depends on how many downloads. A client recently heavily promoted her free days and saw a distinct and prolonged jump in her sales — we’re not talking thousands — but a jump from selling a book or 2 a week to a book or 2 a day is a distinct step up in both visibility and revenue.
How do you tell friends and existing contacts your book is free?
If you have a mailing list, and you should have one, you send an email a day or so in advance warning them that the book is going free, and then on the day that it goes free. Facebook and Twitter is more urgent — so if you have potential readers on those platforms tell them on the day (for Twitter, tell them multiple times).
Amazon works on California time. Books go free at midnight on the date you selected on your KDP panel. So in NZ midnight on the 1 July is around 7pm on the 2 July (or 8pm if we are on daylight saving time).
Telling your friends particularly is important — but remind them — that they can help you by leaving a review on Amazon. Not all of them will, not even of those who read it, but some of them will. If your book is new, getting that first review or two is critical — there is nothing that puts a potential reader off faster than a new book from an unknown author with no feedback on it at all. (When you buy on Trademe isn’t the buyers rating the first thing you check? Same deal here).
How do you tell strangers your book is free?
Two main ways:
- you pay for advertising
- you get on one of the many lists that advertise free books to their subscribers.
First we need to step back slightly and talk about he American market. You may your think your book is for Australians, Poms, or even Kiwis. The reality though is that the majority of downloads of your book are going to come from Amazon.com aka the Americans (I am assuming your book is written in English). Remembering of course that America is full of expats — who, if they want to read say, a New Zealand book will find it easier online than in their local bookshop.
Why? Well not just are there an awful lot of them, but they are the world leaders in consuming eBooks, and they particularly like a freebie. Who doesn’t, you may ask. But no culture has taken the search freebie to the level that Americans have.
Recently, in the US, an expat told me “There’s a service for everything in the States”. And she’s right. So if you want to find free books for your Kindle — you don’t just check what’s free on Amazon — you subscribe to a website that will send you a daily email TELLING you which are the best free books. Or a Facebook page, or a Twitter account that will do the same thing.
So, as a writer, you want to get find those websites and get them to feature your book. Right so how do you do that? If you Google “websites that advertise free Kindle books” — you will get over 2 million results!
Each website has different requirements — these vary from just sending an email to filling in a complex form which may include how many reviews you have, what’s your rating on Amazon, what genre and sub-genre you are in, a full bio, a 1 line description, and the answer of 2 + 2 (to prove you’re human).
You can spend days filling in forms. And always in the back of your head is the question — how many readers will see my book? Will it be of interest to them? Is the site for real — does it have 10 subscribers or a 1000?
You see no one just downloads a book because it’s free, particularly a stranger’s book. They download it because it’s the type of book they read, and the more specific the better. Free mysteries, free romances are one thing. But a free Amish Romance (yes it exists and yes it’s popular) — that will almost certainly ensure a download from someone who reads that genre.
Free promotions work best
- for fiction particularly when you have several books in the same series or otherwise closely related
- when you have some reviews (4 or 5 star) already on Amazon
- when you have a mailing list to tell people about your sale
- when you have a social media following to tell people about your sale.
Which is not to say that you shouldn’t promote your non-fiction one-off new book, or that it’s a waste of time, but don’t compare your results to someone promoting their 10th thriller!