I promised to write an account of my first-time-ever free ebook promotion. I also owe readers a wrap-up about the 99 cent book sale I blogged about last summer. And, I recently nabbed a spot with BookSends. The results ran the gamut – I was thrilled, deeply satisfied, pleasantly surprised, and, well, disappointed. Here’s the scoop:
99 cent sale: the results
Last spring I published Paint Me Gone, Book 3 in the Gen Delacourt Mystery series, and put together my first real book promotion for the series. I vowed to start in the ultra-low-priced category, and blogged about the possibilities here: How To Market A 99 Cent Ebook Sale On The Cheap.
Every one of the free-to-the-author sites listed in that article produced sales, with the standout by far being The Midlist (now defunct) at 85 books sold.
The second highest sale bump during that promo came from Ereader News Today (ENT), at 166 books sold. At that time my ENT promo cost about $16, which was a great value. Sadly, since then they’ve raised their pricing from $15 – $45, depending on genre.
Free ebook giveaway: the results
This was my first freebie ebook giveaway, and I was thrilled with the results: 7804 downloads over five days, plus about 100 full-price purchases of the other three titles in the series (during the sale and immediately after), plus a significant ramp-up in KU borrows during and after the promotion. I know, peanuts to the big guys, but still.
Even better, Paint Me Gone made it to #1 and #2 in several niche categories, including Women Sleuths, and stayed among the top five sellers there for the duration of the sale. It also reached #30 in Top 100 Paid Kindle. Since then, Paint has racked up 10 more reviews.
I scheduled this 5-day promo via KDP Select, then used Book Marketing Tools’ $29 free ebook submission service to advertise it. The tool is super: you fill in the info in a “basic” form, then BMT auto-populates the submission forms for you on 30+ sites that advertise free ebooks, with only minor additions and adjustments to be added as you tick through the links. After the auto-populated section, BMT provides over 40 links right there in the submission tool’s home page to additional no-cost sites that will advertise your free ebook promo.
Success Tips – using the tool:
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Don’t do what I did, which was wait until three days before my promo to use the submission tool. The more notice you give these free ebook sites, the better. Despite my success, next time I’ll use the tool at least 10 days in advance. Give the sites enough lead time to post your book! Note: A link to The Midlist is provided by BMT, but as I said above, they require 3 or 4 weeks’ notice.
- Collect book data in one place. Before you begin, gather all the pertinent book-related data into one Word doc. You’ll need the Amazon ASIN, book sale links, description, your bio, and lots of odds and ends. Also, put the book’s cover image in a place where you won’t be able to (accidentally) click on and upload the wrong one. This mistake is a common error, it will nullify your submissions, and most sites will not alert you to correct the mistake.
- Follow instructions. Pay attention! You’ll be required to input additional info here and there, even on the auto-populated sites. So be present when you fill out ALL the information, but especially as you work your way through the 40+ additional websites, where you must correctly complete their entire forms. That’s why it’s best to isolate the info you’ll need in one place.
- Allow enough time to complete the job. I spent about 2 hours the Friday afternoon (3 days) prior to my scheduled promotion filling out (and screwing up) online forms. My friend Helen Hanson achieved the same results – without the mistakes – in about an hour. Yes, I am painfully slow.
Book Marketing Tools says, “We obviously can’t guarantee any amount of downloads since each site is independent and has their own policies. We do guarantee that you will save a lot of time over doing the submissions to those 30+ sites manually.”
BookSends: A pricier option, the results
If, like me, your book submissions have been rejected by Bookbub a dozen times (but I won’t stop submitting until I pass go and have the opportunity to pay them $400+ for a promo), what are the choices? Joe Konrath and other successful authors also recommend the promo site BookSends.
I submitted Mark of the Loon at 99 cents and scored a place in their schedule, and it was my first foray into a “pricier” promo. It ran yesterday. Drumroll … The promo sold about 100 books. (See above, ENT’s results were better, and the price is lower.) I was a little disappointed until I heard an author friend relate that she’d used Bargain Booksy (also $50) and gotten less than a dozen downloads. Hmmmm. I’ll keep in mind that the day of the sale, the time of the month, and the book’s category can all affect the outcome of any one sale.
Readers, is the reign of 99 cent sales over – are freebies king again? What’s been your best book promo strategy so far? Have you had luck with pricier sites, other than Bookbub? Please leave a message and share!
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