Four Lessons I Learned From Giving My Novel Away

 

by J.U. Scribe

My free book promotion for Before the Legend is officially over as of this week. What was supposed to be a “Free Promo Week” turned more into a month long promo filled with free print giveaways, author interviews, guest spotlights, and of course free eBooks! It was encouraging seeing a significant jump in readers adding my books to their virtual shelves in Goodreads, to new reviews being added on Goodreads and Amazon.

I realized after reading David Gaughran’s book, “Let’s Get Visible” I needed to have a free run of my book to give it the exposure it otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Although there were some hiccups along the way it definitely was a learning experience which I am grateful for. Here are some things I took away from my free run.

Timing is everything. Well it’s not everything but it is very important. What time of year are you planning it? How long will your free run last? These are some of the biggest questions to ask yourself when scheduling a free run. For those who choose the option to publish exclusively through KDP Select, you have control over not only what month or week you plan to set your eBook free but also exactly how long it will last.

You can either use all 5 days within a 90-day period towards your free run or split it up at a time, maximizing on an extra chance to boost downloads and sales. The time you change the price from free to its regular sales price is also critical because you want to capitalize on your book’s exposure  while also changing the price just at the right time so you can still reap potential sales from the tail end of the increased traffic to your book.

However if you’re like me and not signed up for it you have to do what we call price-matching. The best way to achieve a uniform price across retailers is to set your book for free via Smashwords, choose Amazon as a distributor, and wait for the other retailers including Amazon to adjust their price to match accordingly. However the time it takes for the price change to occur across all the retailers is very unpredictable which can alter your free run time-table you meticulously planned out. Hence this is why I had to keep extending my promo week. This leads to my next point.

Expect the Unexpected. What I mean by this is if you aren’t in KDP Select expect delays when your book is set free as well as when you set the price back to its regular cost. Delays are inevitable if you choose price-matching. If you have multiple distributors opted in through Smashwords when you attempt a price-match, the first place that you’ll see your book go free is on Smashwords.

But for the actual retailers/distributors involved in can take up to a week or even two weeks for the price to be adjusted accordingly. For Amazon it can even take a few days longer for them to price match and even then it’s up to their discretion. This can frustrate your plans especially if you were planning for a short free run or for a spotlight on a host blog where you hoped to inform readers when exactly your book will be free till.

Despite temptation to quickly announce to everyone your book is going free the day you changed the price on Smashwords, it is best to gradually spread the word as the price change takes effect across the many retailers.

Let the Big Guys Know. It’s important to let others know about your free run so you can get as many downloads in those first few days. To amplify your results, it’s highly recommended to notify certain sites that advertise free or discounted eBooks to it’s large reader audience. The big ones, “Let’s Get Visible” mentions includes BookBub and Pixel of Ink, with the latter being free.

Another great one I personally discovered is FreeBooksy. Although I would have loved to use BookBub (although it’s not cheap), they have higher criteria in what books they advertise so I had to settle with FreeBooksy. Overall I was pleased with FreeBooksy. For $50 I garnered a featured spot on their front page for a few days with a link to my work and a post on their Facebook page. Was the advertising offer worth it? I would say so.

My downloads jumped from 30-something to over 600 the day it was featured! Also on Amazon my book was #1 for free in its respective categories of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Greek & Roman and was #2 in Alternative History before jumping to the #1 spot briefly.

Be Realistic. Setting goals is important and helps us to stay focused on a fixed objective as an older post of mines, “Reaching the Goal” elaborated on. You want to set a goal for yourself so that at least you will put some effort into promoting your work, otherwise how do you expect it to do well? For me I like the set the bar low (but not too low).

That way if things don’t happen as I would have liked I’m not too disappointed. However when the actual results exceed your previous expectations then you feel that much more thrilled. To many others my results may not seem like much but to me it was a modest success and am learning to take in stride each day in this process.

Overall in addition to the big sites, I spread the love through Facebook, my blog, and Goodreads. Was I successful? Well it depends on what you measure success. In terms of exposure I definitely achieved that goal even if it was fleeting. But in the days after the free run is when I can truly say whether it was a success or not and right now it’s still too early to say.

 

 

 

Alternately titled “Post Free Era.”

Guest post contributed by J.U. Scribe. J.U. is the author of Before the Legend and enjoys outlets such as blogging, drawing, painting, and graphic design.

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19 thoughts on “Four Lessons I Learned From Giving My Novel Away”

  1. Reblogged this on The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy and commented:
    Wonderful article. I just had two free downloads of the WIP (work in progress) of my story (Father’s Day has had the biggest response) and it has set the pace for the other two books in the trilogy. I’m unpublished, but this is my calling card book right now. Best part is, I get a good handle on who’s reading what.

    Like

  2. If you don’t have a publisher and/or can’t self-publish, how many times could you do this without people thinking you are doing this for free? I would like to write for a living because, honestly, I suck at everything else.😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It depends on what you’re giving away. If you are giving away some short stories or a preview of your full length book, I hope you are collecting their email addresses. If you have a mailing list, these people pretty much expect that, at some point, you will be asking them to buy something with money. That mailing list is even important if you are going with a traditional publisher, because it’s YOUR list, not the publisher’s list!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks. It’s a trilogy but only one book down and just first draft with an alternate ending for the last two books, but not the first which I just started. Mostly Tolkien experts would understand a lot of it as the entire book is dedicated to him and the final version will have two versions–one annotated and one not, with an appendix and bibliography. That should make it even more fun and complicated. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really helpful ideas to consider. Thanks.

    Blown away by how net-based distribution fragments literature:

    “Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Greek & Roman”

    Phew. Really glad people kept burrowing to find your word!

    Like

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