Sunday, September 4, 2016

Another Look At Free Book Promotions With KDP

If anyone had told me four years ago I'd be spending thousands of dollars a year to promote my books, I would have told them they were frigging nuts. But anymore, it seems as if you can't get any traction on Amazon if you don't throw out some cash to prime the pump.

I've tried most of the book promotion services out there, and let me tell you - the majority of them are a total waste of time and money.

I used to think Free Book Service was the real thing. The guys there got me hooked when they offered me a free promotion for my book eBay Business Expert. I got to tell you, it was pretty exciting watching the Amazon ticker climb. Every time I refreshed my browser, the total jumped another 500 or 1,000 copies. By the time it was over, I had received 8900 free downloads in a matter of hours. The whole thing was something like magic. Here's the problem with magic. It seems to have a limited duration. When my book went back to paid, I sold less than nine copies over the next week.

I tried it again with another one of my books, Life Without the BS. I plunked down $189 for that promotion. Again, it was amazing the way those books flew off the digital shelves at Amazon. And, this time I did sell nearly one hundred copies over the next month, and I got a good number of page reads. Better yet, I broke even and turned that book into a bestseller--of sorts. It wiggled between number one and two in the political humor category on Amazon for nearly four weeks. I consider that a win.

I used Free Book Service again when I launched History Bytes last July. I plunked down nearly $400 for that promotion. In return for my money, the guys promised at least 15,000 downloads. I ended up with just over 37,000 downloads over a three day period, so I'd call that a win. By the time the promotion was over, my book had ranked number three in the Kindle Free Store. Over the next month, History Bytes ranked between number two and three in several history categories on Amazon.

I gotta tell you, I was flying high. My book was up there selling with the likes of Stephen Ambrose and Bill O'Reilly. Not too shabby for a relative newbie to the writing game. And, I made several thousand dollars to boot, so overall, it was money well spent.

I doubled down and tried another $400 promotion for Indie Authors Toolbox. I could have just as well flushed my money down the crapper. I gave a lot of books away, and the book reached number three in the Kindle Free Store - the same as History Bytes. The only problem was, I only sold twenty-two copies over the next month.

I stopped using Free Book Service after that, not so much because of lagging sales, but because they appear to have a bad rep on Amazon. Google "free book service" and "scam," and you'll see a lot of bad mumbo jumbo about people getting their books yanked from Amazon after using the service, or getting warnings from Amazon. I don't know. I never had any problems with that. I think Free Book Service needs to address the issues on their website, so more people will feel comfortable using them.

Here's my take on the thing. If you want to give away a truckload of free books, Free Book Service will get it done. If you want to drive sales and reviews, I'm not so sure.

Anymore, I stick with three proven services to launch my books. They have a smaller upfront price and give me a pretty big bang for my buck.

If you're on a limited budget, BKnights on Fiverr is a great option. They're only five bucks, and I always get several hundred downloads when I use them. They also offer a promotion service for paid books. It works pretty well if you price your book at 99 cents. When I priced my books at $2.99, it didn't give me the bump I wanted.

I just started using James H. Mayfield Book Promotions in the last few months, and let me tell you, I like the results. They're not massive, but I can usually expect 400 to 600 extra downloads. The most recent one-day promo I did for History Bytes, using just James H. Mayfield Book Promotions, pulled in 912 downloads. Not too shabby - $13.00 is a bargain, based on those results. 

Another book promotion service I really like is Freebooksy. They have a sliding fee schedule based on the genre your book is listed in. Promo prices can range from $40 to $200. It's a good sized chunk of change to drop on a book promo, but every time I've used them I've gotten good results. I've never gotten less than 2100 downloads, and the last time I promoted History Bytes, I received 8900 downloads. Better yet, I sold almost 1,000 copies in the month after the promotion. 

The Freebooksy people also offer another service for paid book promotion. It's called Bargain Booksy, and let me tell you. It works. About a month after my free book promo for History Bytes, I ran a Bargain Booksy Deal at 99 cents. Over five days I sold close to 300 copies and got a good deal of page reads to boot. The best day for that promo was 91 sales. Another win.

The month after that I promoted Killing the Presidents. I gave away nearly 2100 books over five days, but sales were disappointing. Over the next 30 days, I only sold six or seven copies and received about 3500-page reads

With all that said, what would I recommend?

Promote your book. Promote it often. But, be careful which books you promote. Killing the Presidents, and Indie Authors Toolbox weren't selling before I promoted them. That didn't change much after I promoted them. My guess is a dog is a dog. People will take it for free, but once you put a price tag on it, they're going to see it for what it is. Let it go, and write another book.

Here's the way I do it now. 

I schedule a three-day promotion. The first day I run a promotion with James H. Mayfield and BKnights. That primes the pump and starts my book climbing up the ranks. The next two days I run my Freebooksy promo, and that really heats things up.

Try it for yourself. Shake things up a bit. Develop a system that works for you.