One of the best e-book marketing techniques we can utilize is this: give it away for free. Yes, you read that right. FREE-ninety-nine is price few readers can argue with. When the opportunity to give your book away for free comes around, leap on it. Especially for new authors working to build their audience. Before an e-book becomes a bestseller, the biggest hurdle writers have to jump over is raising awareness. Get your name and your work out there. I’ve written articles before about how important it is to have a website and a social media presence. All of that builds on getting noticed, reviewed, and generating sales.
I publish through Amazon Kindle, and while they set a minimum price for e-books sold through their site ($0.99) they offer promotional tools. One such tool is setting days aside for your book to be listed for free for a limited time. You have to schedule it at least the day before the launch. I recommend setting it out at least a week to give yourself time to prepare. Prepare the Facebook posts, set aside a budget to boost the post to a target audience, build hype on Twitter, make a blog post, an announcement on your website, and tell everyone you know to tell everyone they know.
Self-publishing, unless your audience is already established, means the author must take the initiative to market and advertise on their own. It’s work. I don’t find it particularly fun, though some do. But it’s necessary. The good news is: it’s not very hard. It takes a little time, but every download and subsequent review will feel like a victory.
If you’re like me and your Photoshop skills are lackluster and forgettable, Canva will be your best friend. It’s free and it’s easy to use. Spend a little time browsing through their templates until you find something that works for you, save it to your computer, and now you can use it. Here’s an example of one of my recent creations.
This is the largest and fastest growing social media site out there. If you’re trying to reach people online, this is the way to do it. If you haven’t created a Facebook author page for yourself yet, bookmark this site, stop reading, and take care of that. Invite your friends to like it and remember to take the time to post. It doesn’t have to be every day, but I recommend at least once a week to remind people you’re still around.
After you post your advertisement, Facebook will allow you to boost your post. It allows you to specifically designate a target audience, set up a budget and a time frame, and it does the rest. What’s really cool about this feature, is it will not spend your money unless it needs to. If you set aside $100.00 for a three-day promotion for your free e-book, and it only uses $50.00, you’re not throwing your money away.
Amazon Kindle has a similar feature. They do not allow you create your own advertisement, but will use the cover art from your e-book. You fill in the blanks with some eye-catching, captivating text, and then you set a time frame and budget. This works a little differently than Facebook. You will only pay Amazon per click on your advertisement, but you have to put in a bid for the clicks. Authors and publishers all over the world are doing the same thing with their e-book, so there’s an element of competition here. Amazon recommends $0.35 a click. Speaking from experience, if you go less than this, you will end up setting aside $100.00 for advertisement, and only spending $6.00 or $7.00. If you want to go really aggressive, say $0.59 a click, this gives you a higher likelihood to win the click bid, but decreases the number of people you can reach before you run out of money. I recommend going a little over the suggested amount to ensure you’re winning the bids, and maximizing the number of people you reach with your budget.
I’m sure right about now you’re wondering to yourself, “Why would I spend money to give my e-book away for free when I’m trying to make money?” This is a great question. I asked myself the same question when doing online research about how to raise awareness about my e-book. One cliché we’ve heard over and over rings true, “You have to spend money to make money.” Now, this is not an absolute, but let me tell you from personal experience, it helps. A lot.
I’ve finished two books in my fantasy series, Tales of Espiria, Conspiracy and Crusade. I did not start advertising online until after the second one was published. I tried giving it away for free to see if people would find it on Amazon. Two people did. Only two. After that, I tried giving it away for free and advertising on Facebook. I received a lot more downloads, though not as many as I liked because I was very conservative with my budget. I tried doing just Kindle, but once again, I bid too low per click. I saw the best results when I gave the first book away for free, advertised aggressively on both Facebook and Kindle. Not only did my first book get more downloads, the second book got more sales. It sold so well, I made back the money I invested in advertising in royalties.
This strategy is especially good if you’re writing a series. Give your first book away for free, and if people download and read it, they will likely buy the subsequent installments. My personal plan is routinely give my first book away for free. Upon the publication of each volume in the series, I plan to give away all of the previous books for one day. Like so many of you, I have a long way to go before Tales of Espiria receives the notoriety I’d like for it to have. Giving your work away for free won’t yield an immediate return, but will help you in the long run as word begins to spread about your work.
In an attempt to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, I’ve decided to give the first novel in my fantasy series away for free this weekend. If you’d like to give it a read, it will be available for download starting tomorrow 06/08/16 through Sunday 06/10/16. If you read it, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon. If you have any published works available, I’d love to take a look. I try to always make the time to leave a review for anything I read. It’s helpful to authors and readers alike.
I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Thank you, as always for reading. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Have a wonderful day!