Marketing/Advertising, Self publishing

What I Learned from Going Free

Summer still sizzles on in the month of August. It’s been approximately 2 months since the launch of my free book run. With all free book runs they eventually run their course. After getting encouraged by a blogger to share what sites I found to be most cost-effective in promoting my book, logically this topic would be my next post. While I admit I don’t fully understand all the variables that factored in, here’s some of the overall lessons I gleaned as I share my results during and after the free run.

When choosing sites to notify your free book, I truly underestimated the saying ‘money talks.’ Although several sites will let you post a submission for your book for no cost when it’s going free, they’re basically saying they reserve the right to be choosy. Considering some of them receive a large amount of requests, most of the time you have to pay to guarantee a featured mention of your book. Unless your book is a clear standout amongst the staff reviewing your book, your free request runs a high chance of being ignored.

That’s the dilemma I found myself in when starting off my free run. Although I contacted several sites days in advance, all with the exception of Ebookasaurus and iAuthor, did not choose my book. This decision greatly impacted me the first few days of my promotion, which was getting off to a rough start to put it nicely. Thankfully I had a few Facebook pages that kindly featured my book’s promotion but it was not the fire power I was looking for. The sites I reached out to were not bad in themselves. If I were to use their services again, I would have to use  their paid featured options and make sure I had at least one or two guaranteed feature spots before the free run began.

That same weekend is when I pulled out the ‘big guns’ as people say and fell back on my trusted friend FreeBooksy. Don’t let the name fool you. You will pay a price to feature your free Kindle. The price tag can vary depending on the genre of the eBook. But considering I used them for my first free run and my sales rank increased exponentially, I had nothing to lose by trying. Since I contacted them late, the earliest they could feature my posting was the following Tuesday.

Below are my sales ranking on Amazon starting from the first day, Friday through Tuesday. Not surprisingly my best highlights came on Tuesday when my book peaked at #1 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Greek & Roman and in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Alternative History

After the free Run

So how did I do after the free run? While I didn’t hold onto my #1 sales spot by Wednesday I was able to stay on the top 100 spot for my respective genres for weeks after the free run. This of course gave me a nice boost for my author sales rank too. I also was surprised by a new review, which made me happy. In terms of sales, the week of the free run I sold 5 books. While that may not seem like I a lot, considering on average I get a new sale once in 6 weeks, that sales figure was a significant improvement from what I usually make.

One of the big questions I ask myself from the free run is: was it worth the money? After all, the cost of advertising and marketing can quickly add up for a writer. I can in part answer the question using the ratio a fellow blogger Nicholas C. Rossis came up with to determine the “value of money.” Basically it’s a ratio between the number of sales and the cost of advertising. I highly recommend looking at the chart he uses which breaks down the ratios for each major advertising site. While it’s not 100% accurate, it is quite insightful in determining what sites are worth the investment for free, discounted, or paid books.

In this case study, I’m interested in actual sales not downloads. I spent $40 to have my book featured on Freekbooksy. The book was featured a few days even after the free run ended. Simultaneously I did also spend $25 on Goodreads ads. Altogether I sold 5 books the week the free run ended. For simplicity sake let’s say that was due all to Freebooksy (trying to determine which site was responsible for each sale would be too complicated). From studying the chart I realized to get the two numbers they are dividing the number of sales by the number spent on advertising. In my example my value of money would 0, 125 (0 is my first value, since my calculation was less than 1). While that’s not great considering you want to spend less to get more in return, it’s not horrible either.

Overall I learned a lot of things the 2nd time around. Despite the missteps, I did experience a relative measure of success compared to my previous attempt. While I didn’t have as many downloads as my previous free run, I did get more sales which was my real objective behind the promotion. To me what happened after the free run was what mattered the most.

Catch what I’m up to next here.

Highlights from each day

Friday results: Amazon sales rank #42,999

Saturday results 1:56pm :

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,403 Free in Kindle Store

Sunday results (10:59pm)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,837 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

Tuesday results 4:29pm

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

5 thoughts on “What I Learned from Going Free”

  1. Many thanks for sharing your experience, and for your kind mention of my research. I agree with your assessment that free listings can be pretty choosy, as they have a wealth of submission to choose from. Even so, I have found the listing of free places (the pdf by Effrosyin Moschoudi found at the end of my post) to be pretty useful 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. I’ll have to check out that listing you mentioned. Is the PDF under Further resources section in your Marketing Results post? I saw some other links on that post for free sites though that I found helpful.

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