Giving away 40,000 ebooks...
I needed to revive an old book, and I chose one of the riskiest ways to do it: giving it away.
I planned a campaign, paid for advertising, and gave away over 40,000 copies of my novel in five days. How did it work out for me? Let's find out.
Black Lies, a NYT Bestseller with over 11,000 five-star reviews. It is a standalone novel (almost all of mine are), so I don't have the added benefit of hooking readers and forcing them to buy the next novel to continue the story. At the time of this promo, I had it in the KDP Select program, which meant that it was exclusive to Amazon and part of the Amazon Unlimited program. Before the promotion, I was selling an average of 3 copies and 4,000 Kindle Unlimited page reads per day (around $20 per day of income).
The Promotion Details:
A Free Promotion is one of the options available to KPD Select authors. Granted, you can always do a free promotion while wide across all retailers, but it's a bit of a hassle, and will involve your book being free for much longer than the 1-5 day window that KDP Select allows. For this promo, I chose the full 5 days as my promotional window - scheduling it from July 7-11th. This date wasn't plucked from the sky. I waited to schedule my promotion until I had secured a BookBub advertisement for July 9th. Once I had that approved ad date in hand, then I also booked a FreeBooksy ad. Freebooksy is similar to BookBub, but with a smaller audience.
My Promotion Budget: $546
BookBub Ad: $346 (Erotic Romance email blast to 1.16M subscribers)
FreeBooksy Ad: $100 (Romantic Suspense email blast to 187k subscribers)
Boosted Facebook Ad: $100 (21k reached, 2050 clicks)
Promotion Download Rates:
Day 1 (July 7th): My promo went live, and Black Lies price dropped from $4.99 to $0.00. Bloggers and readers saw the discount and began spreading the word. I posted it on my social media and website, plus sent out an email to a list of bloggers. Total Free Downloads: 5,158
Day 2 (July 8th): My Freebooksy promo ran and - according to them - had 4,000 clicks. My rank climbed into the Top 20 Free Books on Amazon, so that exposure definitely led to downloads. Total Free Downloads: 5,189
Day 3 (July 9th): My BookBub ad ran and my downloads immediately jumped, propelling me to #5 in the Amazon Free Store. Total Free Downloads: 21,593
Day 4 (July 10th): With a great rank, and a Facebook ad running, I continued having thousands of downloads per day. Total Free Downloads: 6,359
Day 5 (July 11th): Downloads began to drop, and I posted on social media, but didn't do anything else to encourage downloads. Total Free Downloads: 3,266
Total Free Downloads during the 5-day Period: 41,565
Total Page Reads during the 5-day Period: 78,137*
*Note: Since Black Lies was part of Kindle Unlimited during the free promotion - some Kindle Unlimited subscribers chose to not 'purchase' the free book, but instead read the book through Kindle Unlimited. This caused a jump in my page reads, and allowed me to earn income from those page reads, despite my book being free. During the 5-day period of the free promotion, I had over 78,000 page reads, earning me approximately $325 of income!
As a reminder: Prior to the giveaway, I was averaging 3 sales and 4,000 page reads per day = $20 of income per day.
In the week after the free promotion, I averaged 24 sales and 21,000 page reads per day = $160 of income per day!
In the second week after the free promotion, I averaged 13 sales and 18,000 page reads per day = $120 of income per day!
In the two weeks since the promotion, I've earned a little over $2,000. Pre-promotion, that same time frame would have earned me only $375. When you subtract my promotional budget of $546, I am still ahead by over $1,000.
I expect sales to continue to drop off, but am certainly happy with the return on investment.
Since the first day of the free promotion, until now (18 days later), I've had 67 new reviews on Amazon. SIXTY-SEVEN! That's amazing, and it tells me that readers weren't just one-clicking on the book, but that they were actually reading it. Which makes me very happy, and increases the chance of follow-up sales on my other novels.
One thing I haven't yet noticed is an increase in sales on my other novels as a result of the free promotion. I'm hoping that that will come with time - I can't imagine, with my novel in 40,000 hands, that SOME of them aren't new to my work and will (hopefully) enjoy my writing and go on to purchase more of them.
Mistakes Made & Lessons Learned:
I didn't share this sale with my email list, which is over 20,000 readers strong. It was a conscious decision, as the sale didn't coincide with the timeframe in which I send out my newsletter, and I have a strict rule for myself against emailing my readers more than once per month. So, alas, that was a chunk of downloads that I missed out on.
I also didn't do the free promotion with a book that is part of a series. This was also a conscious decision since, unfortunately, I write mostly standalones and my series are both controlled by publishers. I highly suggest, to anyone considering a free promotion, that they give away a book that is part of a series - that would definitely boost the earning potential and results.
My biggest mistake was not updating my back matter - the content at the end of the book where I 'pitch' the reader on the next purchase. I completely forgot about this until the day before the sale, and then it was too late to get ahold of my formatter so I just stuck with the version I had. But if I'd had a better presentation at the end of the book, it might have led to more backlist sales as a result.
Helpful Links & References:
BookBub Ads can be applied for at https://partners.bookbub.com/
FreeBooksy Ads can be purchased at https://www.freebooksy.com/for-the-authors/
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