BookFunnel: Low-Cost Ebook Giveaway Hosting

by Molly Greene

Kindle-glasses-dictionary_OOctober, 2015 closed on a sad note when former go-to ebook promo site The Midlist sold out to trad publisher HarperCollins and closed its doors to self-pubbers.

Mind you, owners of The Midlist can do whatever they want. They took the risk, they put up the money, they developed their lists – quite successfully – and they deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work. No doubt about it. So self publishers lost an important, valuable promotional tool in an industry where we have few enough options? Oh well.

Now they’re pitching their pricey new platform, Instafreebie, which offers ebook hosting – a place to park your file when you’re offering, for example, a free book to new email subscribers. Instafreebie has some good options, but I’m going to tell you about an alternative ebook hosting option.

Managing free ebook giveaways

Many authors offer a free ebook to readers who subscribe to their email lists. Say you include a link in every ebook offering the next book in your series FREE when the reader signs up for your email list. How do you get that book to these subscribers painlessly?

Or, what if you create a special promotion outside Amazon, giving away a particular book? Even distributing ARCs and beta readers files – how do you manage that? Wouldn’t it be super convenient to let someone else manage the distribution of free ebooks?

The drawback of self-hosted options

You don’t actually need a paid service to accomplish this. If the free book is always the same title, you can set up an autoresponder in MailChimp with the link to download that title. Or, you can create a separate folder in your Dropbox account and give readers access via a link to that. You can even host the file on your website and make it available for download there.

The drawback? You’ll have to spend time with confused folk who have issues getting the downloaded book(s) onto their reading device. According to my friend and fellow self-published author, Helen Hanson, who originally told me about BF, “I’ve hosted my free book on my website, but I had to hand-hold several people a week who couldn’t get the book on their ereader device.”

Enter BookFunnel

Enter BookFunnel, a platform that hosts books for freebie giveaways, and at a very reasonable cost. Their plans start at $20 per year. Pricing depends on the number of books hosted and the number of downloads per month. BookFunnel lets you handle the sign-up part – which you should already have in place – and comes into play AFTER readers subscribe, but the cool part – besides the price – is that BF offers tech support that guides readers through the process and helps them figure out how to download your files so you don’t have to be involved.

I signed up for the $20/year plan and have already used it to provide free ebooks to winners of a Rafflecopter I participated in over the holidays. Easy peasy! And by the way, a reader messaged me on Facebook to tell me about BookFunnel, unaware that I was working on this post. She said it made the process so easy she wanted all authors to know about it … now that’s a testimonial!

BookFunnel vs. Instafreebie

Instafreebie, on the other hand, provides landing pages and signup processing, which BookFunnel does not. BUT, those plans start at $20/month. In addition, Instafreebie is promising, like so many others, to develop a discovery option that will help readers find your books.

Truth is, I don’t believe in sending my readers to third-party vendors and websites for discovery (unless it’s a proven promo site like Bookbub!). That’s the purpose of my Amazon Author Page, my periodic book promotions (ummm, no longer through Midlist) and my website. Other than Google, those are the only places I really want people to find me. That’s my personal strategy and business model, anyway, yours may be different.

Per Bookfunnel’s founder, Damon Courtney

“Getting the ebook file to a reading device can be frustrating for the reader who is accustomed to purchasing on Amazon and having the file show up on their device. BookFunnel provides individual instructions for each of the major devices (and some minor ones, too), and the download page changes depending on the device you visit with.

“Even so, sometimes, a reader STILL can’t access their book. In these cases, the reader can ask for help and an actual human at BookFunnel will walk them through the process of getting the file to ther device. Sometimes this is resolved in a single email, but not always. We hold their hand until they get the book. We haven’t lost one yet.

“We like to think that the download process through BookFunnel provides a much more professional experience than just emailing your books or putting them into Dropbox. While those methods will get the book to the reader, and some readers will then be able to get the book to their device, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

“I want every reader to get their book with as little friction as possible. I built BookFunnel because I hated watching readers struggle with getting book files onto their devices. A as a software developer, I see that as a problem with the software, not the user. It’s my job to make that better. At least, I feel like it is.”

BookFunnel step by step

  • Go to BookFunnel, check pricing, click “sign up” on the plan of your choice or on the home page, then complete the purchase details.
  • Get your login.BF doesn’t use passwords, they email a link you click to log in. You’ll need access to the email address you register with to log in.
  • Add a book. You’ll need mobi and epub files, a cover image, short and long descriptions. NOTE: At this time, you can’t host a book without an epub file, even if you’re in KDP Select and exclusive to Amazon.
  • Create a link. You can set download limits for a given link, create links that expire in a set amount of time, and create different links to use in different places, which allows you to track your success.
  • Share the link … That’s it!

Authors, what are your thoughts? Have you tried self-hosting ebook giveaways on your site, or via MailChimp or Dropbox?

All original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected – did you enjoy the article? You can show your support by checking out Molly’s Amazon Author Page – and hey, buy a book while you’re there! Or, subscribe to this blog and you’ll never miss the weekly posts. Your email will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, follow @mollygreene on Twitter. Mwah! Thank you so much.

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40 Responses to BookFunnel: Low-Cost Ebook Giveaway Hosting

  1. Sue Coletta January 11, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Sadly, I’m one of those people who need hand-holding to use Dropbox. For some reason I have no problem with epubs, but I can’t for the life of me download to my Kindle. I’ve tried every email address I have on my account and still nothing. Now I have three books that I just won that I can’t read! Yup, it’s a sore subject for me. I wish the author used Bookfunnel! Thanks for the info. I’ll check it out.

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

      Sue, you can download books onto your computer, then load them on your Kindle using the USB connection.Have you tried that?

      • Sue Coletta January 18, 2016 at 5:37 am #

        No. I’ll try that. Thanks!

        • Silver Threading March 1, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

          I use caliber which is a cool program that lets you convert many types of books to a mobi format for kindle. Then you send the book to your kindle via USB. Caliber is free! 😊

  2. Belinda Pollard January 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    This sounds great, Molly. I heard of these guys a couple of months ago, and they weren’t really operating yet then. And then I forgot. (publishing dementia, caused by Too Many Options and Too Many Things to Think About)

    I tried to upload an epub to my WordPress site a couple of months ago, expecting it to be perfectly easy, and it’s not allowed… only jpegs and pdfs. I hunted for ages trying to find a plugin that would let me do it, and eventually lost the will to live (or at least, the will to upload an epub to my WordPress site).

    So this sounds like just the ticket. Thanks for showing it to us.

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

      And the price is RIGHT!!! … although like everything else, it will probably go up over time. So happy if it helps!

  3. Suzanne Vince January 11, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    You sold me, Molly! I have a few folks here and there that have trouble downloading the book and I’m happy to help them. If all else fails, I gift them the book (I’ve only had to do this once).

    BUT, I have no idea how many people give up downloading the free book because the task is too daunting. My readers tend to be in the 45-65+ range, and technology can be a chore for some older readers.

    Thanks again, Molly. Love your blog!!

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

      Thanks so much, Suzanne! I’ve had a few readers who have not been able to load books, too, and although it doesn’t take a huge amount of time to resolve most issues, like you, I’m happy to hand off the job. 🙂

  4. Irene Sauman January 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    Thank you Molly, very much. Had been looking at Instafreebie but will now go to BookFunnel. Your posts are much appreciated.

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

      Instafreebie is great for authors who are raking in the dough but all the costs add up, you know? So it’s nice to have an alternative!

  5. Garry Rodgers January 11, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    Thanks for this info, Molly. Good timing as I’ll soon be setting up a book funnel on a new series.

    Hey, maybe slightly off topic but I was in same the Rafflecopter give-away and had a nightmare with gifting on Amazon. They’ve stopped allowing foreign accounts (like me on Amazon.ca and others like AZ.uk, AZ.au, etc) from gifting under $10 USD. Try as I might, I could not give away 3 ebooks @2.99 each and even a gift card backfired on me.

    Long story (just ask Sue Coletta who bailed me out) but the takeaway is watch out for Amazon changing the rules on freebies at a moments notice.

    I link my current funnel pdf ebook to a WordPress landing page and have had no problems across all devices. Looking forward to checking into BookFunnel.

    Thanks again! BTW, I owe you big time for what Blog It! did for me 🙂 Every blogger needs to read it!

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

      So sorry to hear that Garry – and since when is Canada a foreign country?? :-0

  6. Gabrielle January 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

    Thank you for being so generous with information to help other readers. I’m a big fan!

    • Molly Greene January 11, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      My pleasure, Gabrielle!

  7. joybelle2012 January 12, 2016 at 2:09 am #

    Thanks for this information Molly, will try it out some time soon.

  8. M. LaRose January 12, 2016 at 6:38 am #

    This is helpful info. Thanks!

  9. Helen Hanson January 12, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    Hey Molly,

    As you know, I give away a free thriller to people who join my readers’ group. Since I write about tech, I simply must back it up by hosting my downloadable files at my site. Street cred, you know.

    But I still use BookFunnel and list them on my download page as another, for some readers, simpler option. I’m not certain how many people use it, but I know I don’t receive the help requests that I did prior to adding BookFunnel. It’s a clean process for readers, and Damon is quick to help people navigate when they get lost.

    Thanks for the mention 🙂

    Helen

    • Molly Greene January 12, 2016 at 8:03 am #

      Thanks for telling me about BookFunnel in the first place!!

  10. Janet Oakley January 12, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    Going to check this out. Thanks.

  11. Julie Stock January 13, 2016 at 4:42 am #

    Thanks, Molly, this is good to know. Can I just mention that in your second paragraph under ‘Enter BookFunnel,’ you say you signed up for the $20/month plan but in the first paragraph, you also say their plans start from $20 a year? When I looked on their site, it says $20/year, so I wondered if you could clarify please, as this is one of the benefits you highlighted. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it 🙂 Thanks.

    • Molly Greene January 13, 2016 at 7:58 am #

      Acccck! Thank you so much for pointing out my error, Julie. I signed up for the $20 per YEAR plan, which allows me 500 downloads per month. Hope that clears it up!

      • Julie Stock January 13, 2016 at 9:05 am #

        That’s great, thank you! It’s a really good deal they offer 🙂

  12. Virginia King January 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks so much for another great descriptive and helpful post, Molly. I’ve always thought the auto-responder option in MailChimp was a paid service, so I’ve avoided it, till I have to go paid because of numbers, but as my database grows I’ll need the simplicity of bookfunnel, thank you

    • Molly Greene January 13, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

      Virginia, MailChimp’s autoresponders are included with a free account, but it’s a bear to locate them on the platform. Google it when you’re ready!

      • Virginia King January 14, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

        Wow, thanks for that info. I’m forever in MailChimp’s help section. But now that I know about the simplicity of BookFunnel for downloading, it’s looking like a great option, just in time for my free haunted house short story 🙂 Thanks again.

  13. Barb January 19, 2016 at 11:54 pm #

    I’m wondering….has anyone used Smashwords to give away their book? I notice Smashwords has a free feature to generate a coupon# to send to newsletter subscribers or whoever you please.
    I’ve not used it. Anyone experienced downloading problems? Just curious since it is a free service.

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2016 at 7:51 am #

      Hi Barb, I’m sure it’s fine, haven’t heard anything bad about it. But authors in KDP Select can’t distribute through Smashwords. Try it and let us know!

  14. Frances Caballo February 2, 2016 at 6:30 am #

    What a great resource, Molly. I’m so glad you wrote about it. I am going to check it out and place one of my books on it.

    • Molly Greene February 2, 2016 at 7:13 am #

      Yaaaay! Thanks Frances, so happy if it helps.

  15. James Fant March 20, 2016 at 9:53 am #

    I’ve been looking for this. How can I (how did you say it…easy peasy) get my giveaways to my readers outside of Amazon KDP? I figured there had to be a way.

    Thanks so much for the post!

  16. Kelli Jae Baeli June 30, 2016 at 1:25 am #

    Does this bypass the proprietary/exclusivity deal with Amazon KDP Select/KDP? I know i can’t list my books on other vendors while I’m enrolled with that program on Amazon; is that true for this, too?

    • Molly Greene June 30, 2016 at 6:46 am #

      Hi Kelli – KDP Select’s rules are that you cannot sell your Select titles on other book sale sites. Bookfunnel is not a book SALE site. Hope this helps!

      • Kelli Jae Baeli June 30, 2016 at 8:09 am #

        that makes this even more appealing, doesn’t it? Thanks, Molly.

        • Molly Greene July 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

          YES! … and my pleasure.

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