Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Giveaway Works

I've changed my mind about ebook giveaways. I had read about the experiences of writers like Rob Walker, who has his books in the Amazon KDP Select program where you have five days every ninety days that you can make your book free for the Kindle. Rob is always writing about how he gives away thousands and the result is an increase in sales. I tried it back in the spring when the ebook version of Beware the Jabberwock came out.

I knew it would take a lot of promotion, so I did posts on all the lists I belong to, mentioned it on Facebook, and in my blog. I had read about all the thousands of downloads people would have, but my three-day promotion produced only about 3,000, and I found no subsequent boost in the sales of Jabberwock or my other ebooks. As a result, I took it out of the KDP Select program and decided free books wasn't the way to go.

Then Rebecca Dahlke resurrected her All Mystery E-Newsletter and started a discussion group along with it. She put out eight pages of instructions on how to promote your ebook in the Amazon program, complete with dozens of websites that list free ebooks where readers can find them. After reading it, I thought it was worth another try.

This time I chose to give away my first published book, the one that started my Greg McKenzie mystery series, Secret of the Scroll. I took it off of Smashwords.com, since you have to give Amazon an exclusive to be in the Select program. I had only sold a handful on Smashwords anyway. Then I started going through all the recommended websites, setting up my book to be listed on the free days.

I originally set the promo for August 29-31, and that's how I scheduled it on the sites. But when I went to the book's Kindle page the morning of August 29, it wasn't showing as free. I checked the Promotions Manager and my days had disappeared. I quickly entered August 30-September 1 and tried to notify as many of the free book sites as possible. I also plugged it on Facebook and Twitter, which Rebecca's instructions said was a good place to promote.

By the second day of my promotion Secret of the Scroll was #1 in the Thriller Suspense category for free books and #16 in the Top 100. It stayed at #1 the last day as well. When it was over, 10,253 people had downloaded a free book.

The theory is that giving away books gets your name out there and will result in more sales. In the two days since the promotion ended, I have sold 42 copies of the Secret ebook and 14 copies of my other ebooks. I've also had 19 people "borrow" Secret of the Scroll. Amazon puts up a kitty of about $600,000 each month that is paid to authors of borrowed books, depending on the number borrowed. This is far and away more sales than I've ever registered in such short a period.

So, yes, I'm now a believer in the giveaway feature of KDP Select.

Chester Campbell
Visit me at Mystery Mania


Unknown said...

WEll done, Chester. I, too, credit Rebecca for her help is showing me the light. Since July, when I entered the KDP Prime program, I have given away almost 40,000 books, and my sales? Soaring! You will continue to see increased sales from those giveaways. People have to see your work, and this is the way to get a whole bunch of new readers.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Nice post, Chester. Certainly something to think about.