My writing goal has always been to get people to read my books. Pretty simple, eh?
Those of you who’ve been following my journey (or are published authors yourself) know it isn’t that easy. One of the things I’ve been tossing around is giving away my full-length novels for free.
I already give away short stories as subscriber magnets for my newsletter…but how about an entire book? Will this help me in the long run? Especially when I only have two books available for sale at the moment?
Despite the cautions from others that this devalues my work and it only makes sense if you more books in the series, I decided to do it anyway. Why? Because I want to know. Don’t you?
So, I did some experiments with my FREE days through my Kindle Contract. (For those of you who don’t know what this is, if you sign up to be exclusive with Amazon, they give you two advertising options during each 90 day contract. Either you can drop you book price to free for 5 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) OR you can participate in one countdown deal.)
Back in February, I blogged about my countdown deal for Love, Lies & Clones where I basically lost money…about 50% of my investment. Last week, I had a countdown deal on my other novel, Blood & Holy Water, where I did it smarter. The results? I still lost about 33% of my advertising investment. (i.e. I put in about $150 in advertising and made back about $110 back.)
So…what about FREE days instead?
With Love, Lies & Clones, I had five free days to experiment with. Here’s what I did. (Note, I don’t know if there is spillover sales for my other novel from these downloads.)
- April 27th — No Advertising — 286 copies downloaded — $22 in extra sales over the next few days, no increase in Kindle Unlimited page reads. Result was a net profit of $22 with no advertising cost.
- May 11th & 12th— Ran a Genre Pulse ad for $12.50 on the 11th followed by another Free day on May 12th — 810 copies downloaded over the 2 days (360 on day 1 and 450 on day 2) — $6 in extra sales over the next few days and an extra $14.50 in increased Kindle Unlimited page reads over the next two weeks. Result was a net profit of $8.
- May 25th — Ran a Fussy Librarian ad for $27 and had my book priced 99 cents before and after the promo. 578 copies were downloaded — Only made back $3 because of the 99 cent pricing and had a page bump that only was an extra $3.5. Results were a net loss of $21. If I would have kept my book at full price, this promo would have broke even. I also had the memorial day holiday here, so I don’t know if this was run at the best time.
- June 26th — Ran a Robin Reads Ad for $60 — 1483 copies were downloaded – Made back $42.63 in extra sales and I’m unsure on the KU page reads at this point. Probably will make this promo break even.
- Newsletter signups: I have had 24 sign-ups from this promo. (I have a “download my free prequel” link in the front matter and back matter of the book.)
- Social Media Follows: I know I’ve had some, but didn’t quantify them. Probably the same number as newsletter signups.
- Reviews: I received some reviews on goodreads and amazon. (4 amazon reviews, 13 goodreads) I had been fearful they’d be extra critical because the book was free, but they weren’t.
- Exposure: How do you quantify just having people see your story?
So, overall, free days appear to get your book(s) in more hands and bring in more net revenue than countdown days. (I don’t know how true this statement is if you’re doing a lot of cross promotion and not paying for advertising.) Giving your book away is also a great way to get your book out into the world, whether or not it’s the first in a series–especially for a newer author.
My Tips for Setting up a Free Day.
- No advertising is a good place to start. Perhaps promote it with other authors. People will find your book, and you may even get spill-over sales the next day (I did.) I will be repeating this method to see if it’s consistent.
- If you’re advertising, it appears best to only have your book available for free for a single day. Consecutive days will result in more downloads, but won’t make money back to pay for your advertising.
- Don’t spend a ton on advertising. Moving forward, I’m going to try to shoot for the $25 or under price tag.
- Keep your book full price before and after the free promotion.
I’m still left with some internal debates. Is giving your book away free devaluing your work? Is there long term complications? I don’t have those answers. I write because I love it and it’s fun. And seeing thousands of people download my book is pretty darn fun!