There is a large point of contention in today’s marketing sphere: free promos. Do they work? Are they worth it, or am I just throwing potential sales out the window? I decided to conduct a three-week experiment with my latest book, Hunter Cell, to try to find some answers. It should be noted that I only used the free services that are available on the internet for this promotion.
In the week prior to my five-day KDP promotional period, I had only one sale on Hunter Cell and no ancillary sales in my catalog of other works. I began my free promo on Monday and let it run through the Friday of that same week. I did a google search for free eBook promotional sites, and entered my book in every one that would accept it for the week (i.e. Pixel of Ink, etc.) I woke up to go to work at 4am and checked its numbers prior to leaving for the day. It had already moved 78 copies in just one hour! Imagine my surprise. I tracked Hunter Cell over the course of the next five days, and watched in astonishment as it continued to move copies and expand in different markets. Here are the numbers from my free promo week:
US – 1,815 downloads; high of #1 in steampunk, #4 in sci-fi adventure, #15 in general fiction and #436 in over all free store.
UK – 436 downloads; high of #2 in sci-fi adventure, #4 in mystery/crime and #237 overall.
Germany – 47 downloads; high of #2 in sci-fi adventure, #5 in thriller and #210 overall.
Italy – 2 downloads; high of #2 in sci-fi adventure. It’s amazing what a couple of sales will do.
France – 1 download; high of #3 in sci-fi adventure.
Japan – 2 downloads; high of #3 in sci-fi adventure.
Spain – 1 download.
Canada – 8 downloads; high of #2 in sci-fi adventure.
Brazil – no downloads.
In the week after the promo, I saw the sales of my books surge. Hunter Cell sold 32 copies in the US and 11 in the UK. Ancillary sales on my back catalog also increased. There were also a dozen borrows in both markets afterward.
These figures aren’t exactly staggering in comparison to more popular genres, or more established writers. However, they are real and very respectable figures for a nobody like me. The BLUF (bottom line up front) on this experiment is this: you can get good results without spending a dime. You will have to give something to KDP in order to get something (90 day exclusive), but it’s worth it to get more visibility. Things to consider for your own promo are the following: your book cover, your blurb and the story itself. Make sure that you have all of these elements on point prior to your own launch. The power of the word of mouth was also a great influence. It all starts with your own. When you launch the promo tell people. You don’t have to give anyone the hard sell, but finding ways to work it into conversation with everyone you meet will only help. I even wrote the title down on my bill at a restaurant after dinner. It’s the little things that are often overlooked that just might be the catalyst you need.
Granted, not everyone that downloads your book will get around to reading it. That isn’t exactly the point, though. Of course, you want some of them to read it and hopefully write a review or two. The bigger take from a free promotion is the increased visibility. More people will be made aware of your existence. If you are looking strictly for more reviews, I would suggest that you join reading groups, the Author’s Marketing Club and other great free resources to accomplish this task.
I’ll continue to inform those interested on the book’s progress in the coming months.