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Free is Good!

I thought I’d chronicle my hits and misses with trying to figure out this marketing thing. :) Since publishing my first book last June, I’ve had a slow but steady growth in my sales, averaging 2-3 books sold per day, which is pretty good considering I’m a complete nobody who no one has ever heard of. My marketing strategy was pretty limited to networking on facebook and twitter, blog posts, fanfiction updates and the occasional paid promo. I only have a couple of hundred followers on facebook, so I knew that wouldn’t translate to a cash camel, but I’ve met some really great people so I consider that to be a success.

Paid promotions: I’ve tried advertising on Goodreads.com, with a pay per click set up there ranging from $.20 to $.35 per click. The more people click, the more they show the ad, the more clicks you get to your link… and so on. It’s hard to say if this has had any benefits at all. Some days I’d come home and see I had 11 clicks on a book and no sales. Did that mean they put it into their wish list to buy later? No idea. But I figured any exposure is good exposure, right?

I also advertised through Kindle Nation. This is quite a bit more spendy. It was $150 (now $160) to get an email blast that went out to their Amazon subscribers, pimped on facebook and their own website that is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Sounds good, right? For Angel of Mercy, I got about 30 purchases the first day. Pretty awesome when I’d been selling just one or two per day, but not enough to cover the costs of the promo unless you consider that people who read it might read some of my other books. For The Touch, I got about 40 purchases the first day, and it has improved sales somewhat since then, so I consider that to be a success as well. I have one coming up in May for Pretty Witches. It’s my best seller, so I’m interested to see what it does with this type of promo.

Free Promotions:

The first thing I tried was to offer a giveaway to people who voted on book covers on my website. So far the response from winners has been overwhelmingly positive, but really in such limited numbers, it’s not like it’s really much in the way of a marketing promotion, just more like a little perk to people who regularly vote on my site.

Free Goodreads promotion. This costs nothing, but only works for print copies of the books and so you have to ship the physical book to the winner which costs around $5-6 each. I’ve given away two copies of Angel of Mercy, Wake Me and have one with The Touch ending today. The benefit here is a lot of people who enter to win end up putting it in their “to read” list. Has it translated into any additional sales? Again, it’s hard to tell.

Free Giveaway on Amazon through KDP Select. I’d heard great things about this from other authors and decided to give it a go with Pretty Witches. I’d been leery to list anyting on KDP select, because it forbids you to offer the ebook anywhere else. That means no Barnes & Noble, no smashwords, I can’t even offer a free copy of it to anyone myself. I went into it hoping for maybe a thousand or two free copies to be downloaded. I ran it from March 3rd through the 5th and ended up giving away 22,555 copies!!!

So, what does that break down to in actual numbers?
February was a very slow month for me, I sold 64 copies of my books combined, but my highest two previous months (Nov and Dec) I sold 114 copies each. The first two days of March I sold 3 copies total. The Saturday and Sunday while the free promo ran, I sold 56 copies of my other books combined. So far, so good! But would free copies of Pretty Witches translate into sales after the promo was over? So far this month, I’ve sold 1094 books! Finally, some numbers I can actually see the direct result of, I’d call that a success!

I’ve seen a slow but steady decline in the numbers as we get farther and farther away from the giveaway, so it’s not like this is a magic bullet and I can now retire. But I’m thinking between the six books I have published, and three more due out this year I’ll be able to keep the giveaways going and hopefully generate more interest to keep it somewhat steady. I’ve got Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down on a free promo on Amazon today and tomorrow, I’m interested to see how it compares to Pretty Witches All in a Row.

I haven’t tried out running a free giveaway by dropping the price on smashwords to zero (which the other two sites will price match) yet, but I’ll try that in the coming months.

What did I learn? Free is good! I’m not saying the same will happen for everyone, but hey, apart from listing on Amazon exclusively, what do you have to lose?

2 Responses to Free is Good!

  1. RandiPandi says:

    I’m so happy and excited for you. I’m glad that the giveaway on amazon has helped. I know that I tell people about you and your books all the time, because I think you’re pretty awesome, but I don’t know that many people…lol…
    So I’m glad that this new adventure is working out for you. :)

  2. Anne Howard says:

    I can’t remember whether I paid for all 6 or not, all I know is that now that I have ‘discovered’ you, you are no longer safe! LOL I have raved about your books on Amazon in my reviews almost to the point of sycophancy but hey, they’re that good they justify it!

    Good Luck for the future!

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