Last week I did something I said to myself at the start of my indie career that I would never do, I gave away a book for free.
I’ve done a fair amount of 99p deals and sales drops, but to set it to free and then pay to advertise it didn’t make sense to me.
But being the start of a trilogy it can be good business to give away book 1 for a limited period. If people enjoy book 1, they will hopefully go on to buy and read books 2 and 3. And, all going well I’ve gained a new, avid reader for future books. Still it is a risk and can be an expensive one too.
I set book 1 to free for the full 5 days allowed in my KDP Select 3 month period. Then I set book 2 and 3 to 99p each for the 7 days allowed starting on the same day as the free 5 day promotion.
I stacked ads for each day to maximise the reach of my free book offer. This was great for achieving downloads but it has meant I’ve no idea what ads were any good. (List of ad companies further down in this post).
I did use the tactic of using the biggest hitter for my genre (Book Barbarian) in the middle of the promo period, which helped me reach no.1 in the US. See more on this below.
Downloads of The Lost Sentinel over the 5 free days 10th to 14th August = 3862
Purchases of books 2 and 3 over the 7 day KDP free days = 143
KENP – pages read through Kindle Unlimited since 10th August to date = Over 5K
Reviews and Ratings. So far I’ve received a 4 and 5 star review, and a 5 star rating. I’m hoping to see more popping over over the coming weeks. I’ve also gained a few new followers on BookBub which is always good.
Amazon 5 Stars. Captivating… ‘I’ve been reading fantasy and SF for over fifty years. I recognize a born story teller when I read one. Suzanne Rogerson held me spellbound. The author is destined to become a legend.’
Goodreads 4 star – ‘Very interesting premise… The world building was amazing. The lands of Kalaya and Tei’s powers of astral projection were so vividly described that it was beautiful to read about it. Tei’s journey and the twist in the end added to the enjoyment of the story. Liked it.’
I spend a few hundred pounds setting this up and have so far earnt back nearly half of what I laid out in advertising costs. That’s not bad, especially if it continues to help people discover my books and they keep reading them through Kindle Unlimited. Who knows maybe in time it will have broken even.
This experiment wasn’t so much about the money, but about reaching readers. I’m happy to have been able to reach 3862 new ones across the world!
The BIG BIG Benefit
The Lost Sentinel reached No.1 in three countries and in some cases held the spot for two/three consecutive days.
No. 1 best seller in US – Categories = Romantic fantasy, Woman’s fantasy fiction, Action and Adventure Fantasy, New Adult and college fantasy. At various times The Lost Sentinel held spots 2 and 3 in Epic fantasy, Sword and Sorcery and Coming of Age Fantasy.
The top sales rank it reached across all free kindle books in the US was 83 and it reached no. 4 in the top free fantasy books. That really made my day.
No. 1 best seller in UK – Categories = Low Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy and Action and Adventure Fiction. It also reached no.2 in Coming of Age fantasy and Epic Fantasy, and 3 in Sword and Sorcery.
The Lost Sentinel also reached No. 4 in all free fantasy books and was no 5 in all sci-fi and fantasy free books in the UK.
No. 1 best seller in Canada – Categories = Coming of Age Fantasy. Placed 2nd in Epic and 3rd in Sword and Sorcery.
Top sales rank of all free books 29. No. 4 in top free fantasy books in Canada.
No.2 in Australia for Epic fantasy and 73 across the whole of free books in Australia.
As well as these four countries, The Lost Sentinel was also downloaded in Brazil, Germany, India, Netherlands, France, Spain, Japan, Italy and Mexico. I achieved high rankings in many of these countries too.
I’ve tried to do some research to understand the numbers but all I can find out is that there could be around 6 million ebooks available on kindle. I don’t know how many of those are free at any one time, but those are big numbers and I’m so proud to see my book reaching such heights.
Would I recommend running a free book promotion?
100% yes. But I would only do this for book 1 in a trilogy or the start of a series and I would wait until the rest of the books are available to hopefully encourage follow on sales and read throughs.
Watching the downloads come in and getting to No 1 is quite addictive, so don’t plan on doing much else whilst your promotion is running.
It’s a heady experience, which means the come down is hard. When it’s all over you’re left feeling deflated. And it is a shame to see the ranking disappear after the free promo is over. My advice is to take screenshots so you can look back and say it really did happen!
Would I change anything?
I wish I’d booked more ads for the last day of the promo period. After all the excitement midway through, the last day felt like a let down with dwindling sales. It would have been great to go out with a bang.
Ad companies I used in my free promo.
Note – I can’t say for sure where the downloads came from. I’m just providing you with a list of the ad companies I used. There are so many to choose from that you should do your research and learn from trial and error.
Day 1 – Just Kindle Books, Book Reader magazine, Pretty Hot books (119 free downloads, 8 sales)
Day 2 – FKBT, Awesome book promo, James H Mayfield VA services (551 free downloads, 15 sales)
Day 3 – Book Barbarian, BK Nights (1291 free downloads, 57 sales)
Day 4 – Book Runes, Awesome gang, eReader IQ, Book Cave (1426 free downloads, 31 sales)
Day 5 – Book Doggy (475 downloads, 24 sales)
Day 6 and 7 after the free promo ended. 8 sales.
A big thank you to Bklnk.com This is a great resource to check what categories your books are in and their rankings across Amazon in the US, UK and Canada.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
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