RUNNING A FREE BOOK PROMOTION ON AMAZON ~ PART 2
When Andrew Salmon told me he was preparing a three day free giveaway promotion for his book Sherlock Holmes: Work Capitol, I asked if he would document the process for an article and then later report on the results in a second article. He has graciously complied…While this process has been in place for quite a while, and has been written about and explored by experts for whom book promotion comes naturally, there are always writers new to the field who look to kindred spirits who are bravely going where they themselves wish to tread and who are willint to act as a guide or mentor...
A THOUSAND FOLD
Well, the 3-day promotion is over, the dust has settled and it's time to tally up the results and recap the adventure. Here's how it all played out:
As mentioned in Part One (Casting My Book Upon the Waters), I had put the time in to set up my promotion of Sherlock Holmes: Work Capitol. Free sites and pay sites had been contacted, book info sent and dates reserved. I was ready. So just after midnight, I began spreading the word via the first of the ads I'd created to promote the promotion. What was encouraging was seeing 80 downloads of the book before I'd pounded a key. So, yes, the reservations I had made at various sites were being honored.
I decided to hit the ground running right at midnight because the promotion ran on all amazon sites in North America and overseas. Midnight on this continent is daytime elsewhere, right? And Facebook provides the incredible opportunity to promote all over the world. I didn't release the hounds at this point. Rather, it was a matter of getting the ball rolling, getting the word out as the sites I'd booked earlier were doing. Then hit the hay as a busy few days lay ahead.
When I stumbled out of bed hours later, I discovered 100s of readers had downloaded the book. Great! And I hadn't even started the full-on promotional juggernaut yet! I got to it. As I was offering a Sherlock Holmes book for free, my first contacts were the plethora of Holmes Facebook pages. I posted the first ad I'd created, with a direct link to the amazon page (always include a link) and announced a FREE Holmes book for their reading pleasure. Then I tweeted the news (with link) and as many hashtags for free e-book sites as I could squeeze into the tweet. Then it was back to Facebook and contacts (through dozens of book promotion pages) to 100,000s of readers. I posted on my wall of course. And I hit my friends and relatives up to not only encourage them to download the book, but also to help spread the word to anyone they might know who would be interested.
And the numbers jumped! 200! 300! 400! The word was definitely getting out. I spread out my contacts, posts and tweets over the course of the day. This is important to remember. If you want the promo to work, you've got to work it. Sure, you can set it up, book the sites, send a tweet, post something on your wall, and just hope for the best.
But if you want to be pro-active and increase your results, you've got to put the time in to utilize every avenue you can use to spread the word. There are 1000s of free e-books offered every day, everywhere! To get noticed, you can't just cross your fingers and wish. You've got to work. And the contacts have to be spread out: morning, noon, night. Yeah, it's an all day job.
NUMBER OF FREE DOWNLOADS: 483
NUMBER OF OTHER E-BOOK SALES: 2
(One each of books #2 and #3 in the trilogy)
Back at it right out of the gate. A good 60 downloads while I was in the land of nod was an encouraging sign. I was more prudent this time out as I knew I'd be hitting contacts I'd already swamped on Day One. Finding the fine line between keeping things interesting and annoying your contacts, is the key to these things. I had a second ad prepared, a second pitch so as not to repeat myself. I hit different pages in the morning for a different international audience. A strategy of flipping the contacts (Day One morning folks get contacted again in the afternoon or evening of Day Two, Day One night folks get the word in the morning or afternoon on Day Two—you get the picture).
And so it ran. Received some contact from downloaders, a thanks here, a looking forward to reading it there, the promise of a review every now and then. Great stuff! To keep things short and sweet here, it was more of the above. Tweeting with hashtags, posting on Facebook, letting the booked sites do their thing. As I had exhausted my contacts by this point, the results dropped off as folks had either downloaded the free e-book, were going to download it later, or weren't planning on doing so.
NUMBER OF FREE DOWNLOADS: 267
NUMBER OF OTHER E-BOOK SALES: 1
(My Black Bat adventure, DEATH RIDES THE VALKYRIE)
This was a Saturday and I had high hopes for the results. Everyone's home, everyone's surfing, everyone's got free time to think about reading a free e-book.
For me, I was making myself sick with all the promotion I'd been doing and couldn't help but fear I was making my contacts sick as well. Still, you've got to press on, keep things interesting (change the pitch, change the pictures you include with each post, change the hashtags on the tweets, etc.) and hope you don't turn too many people off your promotion. It has to be a blitzkrieg, but a considerate and considered one.
Again, I flipped the Facebook posts, mixed things up, but hit each of my contacts again while letting the free e-book sites do their work. I also stayed in touch with anyone who contacted me concerning the promotion. A quick side note: I wasn't glued to my computer throughout the promotion. You don't have to be a hermit during the free days. But you do have to spend more time than you would normally working the phones so to speak.
The results demonstrated what I had learned during my research into these promotions. Always have at least a Saturday as part of your free days. Mine ran from Thursday—Saturday.
NUMBER OF FREE DOWNLOADS: 363
NUMBER OF OTHER E-BOOK SALES: 1
(One copy of the last book of the trilogy, A Congression Of Pallbearers)
And that was it. I stepped back, took a deep breath and got to figuring. Here are the results:
TOTAL NUMBER OF FREE DOWNLOADS: 1,113
TOTAL NUMBER OF OTHER E-BOOK SALES: 4
Safe to say folks prefer things for free.
Day 4 of a 3-day promotion? Yes, because things got interesting on Sunday.
The promotion was over. And yet, Amazon showed 10 more downloads early Sunday. I'm guessing these happened right under the wire and carried over into the next day. But it upped the total number of free downloads to 1,123.
But Sherlock Holmes Work Capitol also sold 11 copies on Sunday!
Folks who came late to the show, hopefully eager to see what all the fuss was about—remember me making myself and everyone on Facebook sick—found the book, realized they'd missed the promotion and shelled out the $2.99 to get in on the action. Or maybe, they just decided they wanted to help me out and buy the book instead of downloading it gratis. I'd heard of this happening and was gratified to be the lucky recipient of readers willing to buy the book after losing the chance to get it for free. A hearty thank you goes out to each and every one.
TOTAL NUMBER OF FREE DOWNLOADS: 1,123
TOTAL NUMBER OF OTHER E-BOOK SALES: 15
A FINAL WORD
It's important to remember you're playing the long game here. Looking at the above numbers, one can't help but do a little math and see what the royalties would have been if readers had bought the book rather than downloading it for free. Sure, those sales would have been nice—all right, I'll admit it, very nice—but immediate results are not what these free promotions are about.
The key here is that 1,123 readers have my book who didn't have it before. Hopefully they will read it, like it, and want to read the next two for under $6 total. Maybe they buy a copy for a friend, want a print copy for themselves or to give as a gift, leave a review, tell their friends about it—these are the goals of free promotions. What I attained with the giveaway was 1,123 chances for the book to reach new readers, both Holmes fans and general readers alike, who may become fans of my work and willingly throw a few dollars my way for my other books. As this was the ultimate goal of the promotion, I can declare a big mission accomplished.
Also, the 15 sales I picked up are not going to give James Patterson anything to worry about, but every sale is important. Free downloads aside, Sherlock Holmes Work Capitol came out a few years ago and had its moment in the sun with a couple of award nominations and positive reviews from readers and critics alike, so any bump in sales is welcome. At the very least, the sales allowed me to recoup the $20 I paid to set-up the promotion. In fact, I came out a few dollars ahead. I'm happy with that result, because who knows what future sales the promotion will create. With over 1,100 new readers, I'm bound to hook some of them with my ability to bump one word up against another. I'm already ahead of the game, if only slightly. I cast my book upon the waters and time will tell if it comes back to me a thousand fold—so far, so good.
The next article was written after the results of the giveaway promotion of Sherlock Holmes Work Capitol were in...
FOR MORE ON SHERLOCK HOLMES: WORK CAPITOL CLICK HERE