Getting More Instafreebie Downloads

Instafreebie is one platform authors use to distribute free stories to readers. A bonus to using Instafreebe is they have author group giveaways with a purpose of growing your newsletter. (Readers get a free book if they sign up for your newsletter.)

I had been struggling with this a little, as I only had short stories that I could give away free. All my novels and novellas are enrolled exclusively with Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. In addition, I don’t have the budget for a fancy designer cover for a free giveaway, so I make my own.

Both these issues (average covers and shorter stories) resulted in less downloads than the other authors in the group giveaways. This was fine, as I continued to grow my mailing list, but made growth slow and I questioned the cost-effectiveness of this method.

Well, I found the secret for me to have DOUBLE (or Triple!) the downloads to my free stories!

It’s bundling them into a box set — and making it LOOK like a box set. (Note: I think this method will work for ANY platform, including Book Funnel, and even for sale on Amazon.)

For example…Here is what my Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales freebie used to look like:

Quick Escape LQ

And now, I give away the same freebie, and changed the image to this:

Quick Escape 3D

And it gets double the downloads, even though each story averages only about 2000 words.

I did the same with my Superhero Wives short stories. I used to give away just one story:

Stellar Life of SH Wife

But I bundled it with a few other short stories I had to create this:

SHW Box

And downloads doubled!

You can see how Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales stands out on the page here:

instafreebie

That’s it. I just wanted to share this little trick with you. (FYI: I make my covers at http://www.canva.com and then made them look like a box set through https://lite.boxshot.com)

are physical books obsolete_

Of course, now that I have the subscribers, they need to be paired with a stellar newsletter welcome series to keep them reading.

As always, thanks for reading!

–Joy

 

My Book Marketing Plan

After releasing four books, I’ve tweaked and retweaked my new-release marketing plan. I’d love feedback on ways to improve it, but here’s what I have so far.

First, I release a first in a series at 99 cents for 8 days, though when I release Fur & Feathers, I may try a release at full price ($2.99). The reason for 99 cents is to encourage sales and hope that the Amazon algorithms pick it up to be “sticky.”

Here’s my advertising plan:

Paid Promos: Schedule about $100 of paid promos (This also helps with Kindle unlimited page reads) I learned that more promos is not worth it, as you end up hitting the same readers over and over.
Newsletter Swaps: Participate in as many newsletter swaps as possible – make sure to have a sign up and require proof they shared. Also, send a reminder/confirmation, otherwise, sometimes I think the other authors forget to do their end of the swap. Honestly, I think with the right network of authors & newsletters, you could do a release solely on free swaps.
Multi Author Cross Promo: Sign up for as many KU or 99 cent sales as you can find.
Create your own KU & 99 Cent Cross Promo if not many are available during your release week. I did this, you can see what they looked like HERE (99 cents) or HERE (KU)
Daycause campaign: Create & ask for support. I used to use Headtalker, but they went out of business. Thunderclap is another one, but you need so many supporters, I fear I’d work hard and my campaign would never be published.
Social Media: Post on all channels you utilize. I think, at some point, I need to break into you tube.
Schedule twitter & facebook posts
Blog Post
Boost Facebook Post: People who like your page & their friends. This has been the most effective for me.
Genre Targeted – I haven’t found much success with this yet.
AMS Ad: Begin selecting keywords early.
My Newsletter: Send on day 2 or so. Resend in 24 hours to non-openers or do the below.
Non-openers (a thank you on my new release) – Day 6
Non-openers (gmail-repeat last email) – Day 8
Other Bookbub email – automatic, work on gaining follows
Amazon email – automatic, work on gaining follows
KDROi promos
Misc Ideas Goodreads Giveaway
Amazon Giveaway
Sample Chapters on Instafreebies
Schedule a Facebook Hop
Blot tour?
Post on reader facebook pages?
Goodreads Lists?

So what does it all look like? Here’s how my release of Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey went. I don’t follow the plan above perfectly, but it serves as a guide. Of note, I couldn’t promote using some of my favorite paid promo sites because of my story being a novella or they were booked when I contacted them. Also, some of the paid sights below, I wouldn’t use again due to lack of sales.

**Note: I had a 3 month pre-order period. For Amazon, this does nothing to help your ranking, but does help build also-boughts for some free advertising a little later.

Date Price Promo 1 Promo 2
11/7/2017 still on pre-order Reader’s Gazette 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/8/2017 pre-order
11/9/2017 $0.99 Facebook
AMSMy Kindle Unlimited Promo
KDROi (until the 14th)
1 Author Newsletter SwapBookbub Email (automatic)
11/10/2017 $0.99 Book Sends/eReader IQ
Amazon New Release Email
Choosy Bookworm
My Mailing List (List 1 – 1st 1/2)
11/11/2017 $0.99 Book Runes My Mailing List (List 1 – 2nd 1/2)
Resend Mailing list 1 (1st) after 25 hrs
11/12/2017 $0.99 Romancing the Dragon Blog Post
Resend Mailing List 1 (2nd) after 25 hrs
11/13/2017 $0.99 Fussy Librarian Author Newsletter Swap
11/14/2017 $0.99 eReader Café 3 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/15/2017 $0.99 Awesome Gang 2 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/16/2017 $0.99 BK Knights 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/17/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo My Mailing List (list 2)
1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/18/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
My Mailing List again (list 2)
11/19/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
11/20/2017 $2.99
11/21/2017 $2.99
11/22/2017 $2.99

How am I doing so far? Okay, but I have four more days to go at 99 cents. Someday I’d love to discover the secret formula, but I think massive sales takes a bit of luck as well. Here are my Amazon sales charts so far:

hidden release

And don’t forget, I hit #1 in a category (humorous fantasy) and earned the elusive Amazon best seller ribbon. Both of which are a huge win for me!!!

Hidden #1Hidden best seller

Oh, and I saw my name on the same page with two of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs & Robin McKinley. You can’t put a price tag on that one.

schultz mckinley briggs.png

So, what marketing am I missing? What’s worked for you?

Four Books Later, I Finally Hit #1

That’s right. I finally did it!

Hidden #1

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey hit #1, and I received the elusive Amazon Best Seller orange tag!

Hidden best seller

And it didn’t take many sales. The day it hit number one, I sold 50 copies.

The key was a good cover, a little bit of the right advertising, and picking the correct categories for the book. Here are a few tidbits:

  1. The right cover: I’ve finally given in. I did make my Hidden Cover, but moving forward, I think I’ll be hiring cover designers. I reached out to one of my favorite designers to work on redoing Blood & Holy Water & making one for book 2 & 3 in this series.
  2. The right advertising: Having a group of authors that help support this project has helped me bring in sales (if you haven’t read my blog about the “Hidden” project, check it out HERE.) I’ve also developed a new release spreadsheet/plan that works on multiple angels of advertising, including paid promos, newsletter swaps, social media, cross promo with other authors, and Amazon/Bookbub notifications. Someday, I’ll write a blog about this — if you want a copy sooner, just comment below.
  3. The right categories: Yeah, this makes all the difference. There’s a whole mess of sites about getting into specific categories, but what I do is just browse every ebook category on Amazon, write down which ones I want, then contact Amazon (thorough author central) to add my book where I’d like it. This article has been helpful. I go right to step 3.

Oh, and a bonus to all of this…my reviews are coming in better than I expected. I have 18 reviews so far (it released three days ago,) and I’m currently averaging a 4.6 stars!

Now, my next goal: figuring out how to get “sticky” on Amazon. First, I’ll have to write more books!

Thanks for sticking with me & my writing journey.

Talk to you again soon!

 

Hidden: One Title. Endless Possibilities.

I’d like to officially introduce everyone to a project I’ve been working on since spring. You’ve all read about my novella, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey… Well, this was written as a part of a 70+ author collaborative where we each wrote a story with the same title: Hidden.

Confusing, right?

When you see the variety in the covers, it’s not confusing at all, just take a look at these October/November releases.

HIDDEN (1)

Each author could write any story they like, in any genre they enjoy, as long as it has the title, Hidden. Then, once weekly, a book is released…and we’re booked out into 2019!

The purpose of the project–besides having fun–was to connect indie authors for cross-promotion. Hopefully, when someone reads my eBook, they find another one of the Hidden authors and read their book as well. (Those that are interested in the outcome of this, don’t worry, I’ll blog about it sometime during this project.)

You can follow along on our website or with any of our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram) to see what this fantastic group of authors came up with, or simply sign up for our newsletter to receive updates of the current new releases.

Here’s what’s in store until the end of November:

Here’s October/November’s Releases:

October 26thCheck this out HERE.

Laura Greenwood – Dystopian RH Fairy Tale Retelling

November 2ndCheck this out HERE.

Alasdair Shaw – Military SF

November 9thCheck this out HERE.

Joynell Schultz – Quirky Fairy Tale / Urban Fantasy / Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

November 16thCheck this out HERE. 

Troy McLaughlan – Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure

November 23rdCheck this out HERE.

Deidra D. S. Green – thriller, murder mystery and suspense

 November 30thCheck this out HERE. 

A.J. McWain – Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to see all 70+ covers, side-by-side, in 2019 when this project concludes…and, of course, read every one of these titles!

1000 True Fans – 14000 Readers in 10 Months.

operation_

Wow!

Ten months has passed since I started my quest for 1000 True Fans. I was diligent in posting until an accident with my father had my life flipped upside down. Behind the scenes, though, I still plugged away, trying to grow my mailing list.

In these ten months, my mailing list grew to over 14000 readers…and is still growing, but, at the same time, I’m working on cutting out people that appear that they’ll never be a true fan. I want to maintain an ACTIVE list that sits around 10,000 subscribers. (Why 10,000? Purely a balance between being effective…and cost effective.)

So, of these 14000, how many are true fans?

Honestly, not that many…but enough. When I send out an email, only about 30-40% of the people open it…and 7% click on any links. So, of 14,000 people that’s about 4500 opening the email and 1000 clicking something…but mostly freebies/giveaways.

A good test of my true fans is to see how many of my newsletter subscribers clicked the link to purchase my latest new releases.

  • I sent Witch or Treat out to about 4000 subscribers. Of these, I had 211 click the link to purchase on Amazon.
  • I sent The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives out to about 10,000 subscribers, and I only had about 100 clicks…but many of my true fans are on my advanced reader team or ordered it on pre-order. All in all, I sold over 500 books in the month since it’s been released. (Still not at 1000 true fans.)

So, on this journey for 1000 true fans, this is what I’ve learned so far.

Your best fans come from slow, organic growth. Patiently waiting for people to read your books, fall in love with your writing style, and join your mailing list (or follow you on BookBub/ Facebook/Etc.)

  • I get a few organic sign ups every day…and that’s because I have stories out there. The more I publish, the more signups I receive. I adore little notes on how they fell in love with some of my characters or love my book.
  • The key here is to ensure joining your mailing list is visible in your printed books. I have a nice page in the beginning of the book and another link at the end (see the graphic I posted below.) I also have links on my Facebook page, website, and amazon bio about all the ways to follow me.If you enjoyed... (3)

Participating in anthologies, has been more effective than I expected in extending my reach. I have spurred a lot of new interest in my Superhero Wife World through my short story published in Witch or Treat. This brought me a lot of exposure to fans who enjoy stories like mine. I have another short story coming out in 12 Days of Christmas which I hope brings similar results. I’d love to have a full novel in a box set someday.

Participating in freebie giveaways is not a bad thing, as long as you don’t allow dead weight to sit on your list & cost you money. (When I say “dead weight” I mean those that use false emails or a separate email account they never use to redeem freebies. I love anyone who opens my emails, whether they click or not.) What I like about having some stories out there for free, is they attract readers I wouldn’t have run across any other way. I classify these giveaways into two groups: Individual downloads where a reader is interested in your book specifically and downloads the story or group email collection where a reader enters a contest to win free stuff and all the hosting authors receive the email address.

Either way, these are much faster ways to grow your list…and some, like the huge multi-author group email collections, can get you up to 5,000 emails in a few months. I was in a Science Fiction & Fantasy paperback giveaway this summer that brought me 5000 subscribers, but note, of these, only 1100 are still on my list…and of these, only about 300 have ever clicked a link. BUT, don’t discredit this. It’s a wide net, but if I end up with 100 true fans from this, I’m happy.

These mailing list signups that come from freebie giveaways are are like like running sand through a sifter. Most of the small grains pass through, but when all the dust settles, you’re still left with a few good pebbles…or fans in your sifter. Most of my Advanced Reader Team has come from this method, and they are wonderful to work with. I also have some close fans that sprung from a few freebies. Also note, many people sit on your list and haven’t had time to read your stories yet. Most of the time, they open an email here and there, and I appreciate the casual interest.

Another tip is a good automation/welcome series can help trim out some of the sand that is passing through. I send a three to four part series and if someone doesn’t open any of them, I send them one more titled Have you been receiving my emails? from a different email account. If nothing is opened, I remove them from my list. If they open the one from gmail, they get added to my “send from gmail only” list.

My frustrations!

Even with this solid mailing list, many of my emails to “true” fans are filtered out by the readers’ email service. Google throws them in their “Promotions” tab while other services filter them to spam because they’re from a mailing list. Its frustrating not to be able to contact my loyal readers.

To overcome this, I’m focusing more on growing different social media channels instead.

Facebook is my favorite, so I’m trying to use it more. I have twitter, but don’t find much engagement. Facebook has been good to me. I’m diversifying my posts to add more variety and interest. Check out my page HERE. I started posting about my life running a zoo. Cute/Fuzzy animals always gets some attention. What I don’t like, is Facebook still filters out who see’s your posts…unless you pay to promote it.

Also, I’m trying to grow other services. With each new release, BookBub sends an alert to my followers. Amazon does the same thing, so I’m trying to get my readers to follow me on these two platforms. (Shameless plug: Follow me on BookBub HERE and Amazon HERE.)

In Summary! (I know, this has been a long post.)

My goal is to filter out the dead weight on my newsletter and add in quality subscribers. What I’m learning is it’s a never ending process. New people in, old people out until your left with a tight list of loyal followers.

The best followers come organically…and the best way to get these is simple: WRITE MORE BOOKS AND BE IN MORE PUBLICATIONS!

Thanks for following my journey! I’ll update again when I learn more. If you’ve been following my growth, here’s how my audience has changed in 2017.

Copy of operation_

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear!

I’d also love to answer any questions you have.

 

Participating in an Anthology

Recently, I’ve participated in my first anthology. From a marketing perspective, I’m so excited about this project! I’ll tell you more about that further down in this blog post.

First off, I want to tell you about this anthology. It’s done! You can grab a copy of Witch or Treat HERE. It’s 99 cents for a very limited time, then the price will go up — but still be very reasonable for a 600+ page book. There are stories from fifteen different supernatural cozy mystery/clean romance type authors.

Witch or Treat

Here’s the blurb:

It’s All Hallows’ Eve, and these witches are getting wild!
Just in time for Halloween, some of your favorite authors have teamed up to bring you more than 600 pages of mystery, magic, and mayhem.
Whether it’s a trick or a treat, these witchy tales will surely get you in a spooky state of mind!

The Case of the Exploding Luck Pumpkin – Nikki Haverstock
Cats, Bats, and Talking Hats – Danielle Garrett
One Spell of a Night – Regina Welling and Erin Lynn
‘Tis the Season to be Creepy – Sonia Parin
The Supernatural Life of a Superhero Wife – Joynell Schultz
The Mystery of the Halloween Mask – Ani Gonzalez
How to Date a Witch – Cate Lawley
Hexing the Ex – Ruby Blaylock
Costumes and Cauldrons – Amanda A. Allen
Harper Grant and the Poisoned Pumpkin Pie D.S. Butler
Witches & Stitches – Ava Mallory
GoB (Game of Bones) – Pearl Goodfellow
Howling Ian – Karny McFlynn
Bubble, Bubble, Here Comes Trouble – Tegan Maher
A Dark Root Samhain – April Aasheim

~ ~ ~

Okay. Now for more info on putting this together and the effects on marketing.

I found this anthology in one of the Facebook promo groups I’m in. If I wasn’t diligent in watching that group, I would have missed it. I joined right away and told myself I’m getting a story done for this project.

We had months to write a story, and I came up with a short story that ties into my Superhero Wives World. It’s titled The Supernatural Life of a Superhero Wife. I wanted this tie-in as a type of cross promo. Let me tell you, at first I was wondering how I’d mix a witch with superheroes…but I think it worked! If you read the anthology, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my story.

All fifteen participating authors brought something to the table. Regina Welling did the cover and the publishing, Danielle Garrett did the blurb, Kate Baray worked on formatting & others are working on advertising. Having such a talented team like this makes it so easy to put everything together.

We published this anthology two days ago and have had over 1000 sales so far with only pushing to our own newsletters and social media. It got the Amazon “Best Seller” banner! I think that’s pretty amazing. One thousand people have a copy of something I read…and it happened almost instantaneously. A key point here is to make sure your writing style fits with the group. The goal is to share readers and find some new ones.

We want to get a BookBub ad for this anthology. Having a group of people together…and a seasonal story…increases our chances. My fingers are crossed. We published the anthology two months early so we can try for BookBub twice (you can only submit once monthly.)

Oh, and the best part? I met a group of fabulous authors who are full of knowledge. They’re giving me all these marketing ideas that I was oblivious to.

I’ll keep you updated as things progress. Thanks for reading!

 

How about you? Have you participated in an anthology? Your thoughts?

 

Do You Give Your Book Away?

Do You Give Your Book

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.

Non-Fiscal Benefits:

  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t spend a ton on advertising. Moving forward, I’m going to try to shoot for the $25 or under price tag.
  4. 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!

What do you think? Have you given your book away free, and what were your outcomes?