If you are an indie author on Amazon, as part of Amazon’s Kindle Select Program, you can use five free days to promote your ebook in exchange for three months of exclusivity. Many traditional publishers are increasingly doing free promos as well, and the competition is growing with thousands of free ebooks available every day. So how do you stand out?
First, here’s what not to do
- While it’s tempting, marketing your free days to family and friends, predominately on Facebook or Twitter, is a bad idea. These are readers who are more likely to pay for your book. Ideally, you should be marketing to new readers who’ve never heard of you before.
- I do not recommend doing a free day promotion close to your book’s launch, because you don’t want to poach paid sales from yourself. Friends and family can definitely help spread the word after they’ve read your book, however.
- Do not sit back and expect the free downloads to roll in without doing any advertising. I’ve heard from two authors who’ve run free day promotions without advertising, and heard crickets in response.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to advertise your free day promotion. I recommend approaching book discovery sites four to six weeks before your promotion, so that you are more likely to get a slot.
- Carefully evaluate ebook promotion sites. Be wary of any sites that guarantee downloads or look like possible scams. If its sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t want to get flagged by Amazon for violating their policies.
- Do not run a promotion without any reviews on your book. Reach out to your early readers and ask for reviews. It may seem like a catch-22, but readers likely won’t give your book a chance if it has zero reviews, and many book promotion sites won’t pick it up without solid reviews to start.
The Top Ebook Promotion Site
A quick explanation for those new to ebook discovery and promotion sites: basically, readers sign up to receive recommendations for discounted or free ebooks in their favorite genres. The sites then regularly offer recommendations. The best sites curate their lists and offer a limited number of highly rated books.
The king of book discovery sites is Bookbub, and for good reason. The site has more than 10 million book fans on its email lists. It selects only 10 to 20 percent of books that apply for a featured deal; the key to acceptance is having strong reviews and lots of them.
I recently advertised my literary novel, A Storm of Stories, on Bookbub, where it reached #8 in the top 100 free books in the Kindle Store and #1 in free contemporary fiction short stories and literary books with 18,069 downloads on Dec. 30. The ad cost $301 but went straight to my target audience. After the promotion, A Storm of Stories reached #5 on the paid bestseller list for literary short stories. The book had about 18,000 pages read in a week on Kindle Unlimited, as well as a spike in paid sales—not bad considering the book’s genre, literary short stories, and that it was around the New Year’s holiday.
Bookbub provides handy pricing information and subscriber stats. You can also find more information about their submission guidelines on their site.
But what do you do if you don’t have enough reviews to get Bookbub’s attention? There are several other players out there with growing email lists of readers hungry for free books.
Other Places to Promote Your Free Ebook
In November, I ran a smaller book promotion for A Storm of Stories and garnered 3,468 free downloads and more reviews. I saw a modest spike in paid sales and Kindle Unlimited pages read, as well after the promotion was over. Here are some of the sites that were worthwhile for me.
- Freebooksy has more than 368,000 registered readers across categories. It has 110,000 subscribers in the literary genre and costs $60 to advertise a literary book, for example. You can also submit for editorial consideration for a free slot. It’s one of the best-looking sites for free ebooks, in my opinion.
- Ereader News Today is another one of my preferred sites to promote a free book on with a total of 200,000 subscribers and 135,000 in the literary fiction genre. It cost $40 to advertise a free literary book.
- Another one of my favorite sites is the Fussy Librarian. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to promote on the Fussy Librarian, during either of my recent promotions because I wasn’t early enough to book a spot. The Fussy Librarian has 122,000 email subscribers. In the literary fictioncategory specifically, it has 97,118 subscribers and costs $16 to advertise a promotion. It’s one of the best values out there for advertising a free book. As a result, its calendar fills up quickly. The Fussy Librarian is also unique in that readers get to choose not only the genre, but the level of violence or profanity in the books they get suggested.
Some of the smaller players I used
- I advertised on Booksends.com and EreaderIQ, which claim to have well over 150,000 active readers together. Booksends has 16,000 readers in the literary category.
- I also liked BookRaid, which charges based on clicks, with a maximum of $20. While they politely declined to release subscriber numbers when I contacted them, they did tell me that my book had 450 clicks during my promotion.
- EbookSoda cost $15 and has more than 22,000 subscribers, with 4,000 literary subscribers.
- Ebook Betty has more than 24,000 subscribers on its email list and had an option to advertise for $18.
Overall, the two recent free promotions boosted my Amazon rankings and visibility, and increased my reviews from 47 with a 4.2 star rating to more than 72 reviews with a 3.9 star rating.
Weeks after the Bookbub promotion, A Storm of Stories was still in the top 100 bestsellers in the literary fiction short stories category on Amazon. Ultimately, stacking promotions can help you hit the bestseller lists for your categories, increase your reviews and help you find new readers.