*Before we begin, I’d like to clarify that this promotion was not by using paid ads through Facebook, but rather by contacting community pages on Facebook for promotion.
I recently ran a five-day free promotion for Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth series. I’d run one before, back in September last year, and had rather good results, with around 4500 copies downloaded, several paperbacks sold, a few good reviews and a large increase in my KENP numbers. I’d supported that promotion with three days of paid advertising, as well as blog posts, which were picked up and shared via many lovely bloggers.
I wasn’t expecting lightning to strike in the same place twice, but, as the third Ambeth book is due to come out soon, I thought I’d give it another go and hopefully attract some new readers to the series. This time I decided to supplement the promotion via Facebook. This was for a couple of reasons – first, my budget wasn’t huge, so searching out free or low-cost options suited me. Second, I kind of stuffed up in terms of booking any paid advertising, so ended up with only the first day of the promotion advertised through Booksends. However, I’d read a recent blog where the author had used Facebook as part of his promotion and had garnered an astonishing number of downloads, so thought it worth trying.
And here’s what happened:
I approached three different pages, Free Kindle Books UK, Free Kindle Books and Free Kindle Books – Community. I sent them each a universal link to Oak and Mist, plus some information about the book and the dates of the promotion, and did so a few days before my promo was due to start.
Free Kindle Books UK were great – they ran a promotion on the first day, which was then picked up and shared. I also had some lovely blogging friends share the promo through their own blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter – thank you all so much for the support. This, coupled with the paid ad through Booksends, meant I had a fairly respectable first day of downloads, about 500 in total.
When I approached Free Kindle Books – Community, their page directed me to their website, Free Kindle Books 4u dot com. I went there and checked their submission requirement, which stated that, due to high demand, they could only guarantee me a spot if I made a ‘donation.’ This donation would, however, make my book a featured title for the duration of my promotion and, as the recommended amount started at $5, it seemed a pretty good deal. The page was updated daily and there were plenty of titles on offer, as well as a ‘Featured’ column where, I presumed, my book would be. So I paid $10, submitted my link and that was that.
On the 23rd of February, halfway through my promotion, I checked their site. My book was not featured, nor had it been posted at all. When I did a title search it did eventually show up, but the listing was from my original promotion in the previous September. I had not submitted my book to them at that time, so I can only presume they pull offers from the web and post them, hoping to entice authors such as myself into making ‘donations’, with the impression that we would get promotion as promised in return. I emailed them to enquire, but to date have had no response. So, definitely not recommended.
And finally, Free Kindle Books. They have about 50,000 followers, so I thought they would be a good bet. Once again I was directed to an external website, where a number of packages were available for advertising there. I messaged them, saying I only wanted a Facebook promotion and could they let me know if it was possible. I didn’t receive a reply until the last day of my promotion – it stated that they would be happy to run a post for me on that day, but could I please do them a favour in return.
Visions of all sorts running through my head, I cautiously messaged back, What sort of favour? It turned out that the favour was to purchase a book for 99c, then leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I messaged back saying I was always happy to support fellow indies, but couldn’t guarantee I would leave a review. I don’t review every book I read, and won’t leave negative reviews for books as I feel it’s unfair to the author – opinions can be very subjective and just because I don’t like something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it. Anyway. I also asked her if this was a standard part of promotion for their page.
She replied that it was, and that she understood I may not be able to leave her a review, however, she hoped I would enjoy the books (my 99c bought me a five-book set). In the end we had a very civil exchange of messages, and, as I felt that 99c was cheap to reach a potential 50,000 readers, I went ahead and did notice a small surge in download numbers on the last day.
So there you have it. In the end I gave away about 800 books, not a huge amount compared to my previous promotion, but still not bad. I also sold a few more copies of No Quarter, received some great feedback comments from readers, and my KENP numbers have surged again. I’m not sure whether I’ll offer Oak and Mist free again – perhaps I might consider it when the last book comes out and there is a full set – but feel both promotions have been a success as I’ve definitely increased my readership. As for using the Facebook community for promotion? I’m still of two minds about it.
How about you? Have you used Facebook to promote your books? And did you get positive results? Look forward to hearing your comments.
Those numbers sound pretty good to me. I haven’t run any promotions yet, apart from a 99p over Christmas. I didn’t use any paid advertising so no one really knew about it!
I was very interested to hear about your Facebook promotion, and want to do something similar soon, though I’m not sure how to go about it.
Thanks Suzanne 🙂 I was pretty pleased with the numbers, especially the first promotion I ran. I advertised that one through Booksends, E Reader News Today and Robin Reads, and sold enough paperbacks and KENP pages to almost cover the cost of advertising, so it was well worth doing. If there’s anything I can help with, let me know 🙂
Also, I have Visions of Zarua sitting in my to-read pile – paperback version – and am looking forward to getting started!
Wonderful, I hope you enjoy reading it.
I will look into Booksends etc, and thanks very much for the offer of help.
I think like everything in self publishing, once you’ve done something you lose your fear of it. I’ve just got to make myself take the plunge!
Yes, it’s definitely a leap of faith! We’re lucky there’s such a good blogging community – I know I’ve learnt a great deal from other people and it’s really helped. 🙂
It seems an awful lot of books to give away for free.
Yes, it is. Luckily just e-books, so there’s no real cost to me – the pay-off being increased exposure and, hopefully, more reviews and sales in the future. I certainly wasn’t expecting to give away so many the first time around, that’s for sure!
I need you Helen! I need to have my hand held and do this thing! Great post and I need to give it a whirl especially with other books due in the not too distant future.
Happy to hold hands any time, Geoff 😀 Let me know what I can do to help and when, my info is yours.
Ah thanks. I guess I need to be brave, have a dander and if I hit a roadblock, come a running. Is there a good way to contact you away from comments?
Yes, please do. You can message me through Facebook if you like – that’s probably the easiest 🙂
Very interesting post, Helen. I suppose these sites get swamped with free ebooks… certainly looks like they have more than they can handle. Shame. I have never found giving away free books helped with reviews or sales. Sadly I think there are just too many people who grab anything that’s free. I dont think most of them ever get around to reading all the free ebooks they download. People who want to read don’t mind paying a few euros for books. Kindle free offers benefit Amazon and their customers, not the author, I think. But its good to try everything, as different things work for different people. Putting your first book on permafree when all your others are complete could be a good option, but I’ve heard it’s not so easy to persuade Amazon to permafree your book, either. This book marketing thing is so hard! Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thanks for sharing your as well, Ali. I think that word of mouth and reviews are really the only way to consistently sell books – however, I have found that both my free promotions brought me to the attention of new readers, I made quite a few sales and my KENP went up significantly. I even ended up with a few reviews. It’s the old loss leader strategy of bringing in new customers by offering a product at a loss. So the benefit to the author, I suppose, is exposure (that dreaded word). I’m not sure that I’ll offer my books for free again – however, never say never!
Love these posts have book marked it for when I publish. This is SO useful and really helps other authors see where the right/best avenues are 💖💖
Thanks Sacha! I said to Elissaveta that I’ve learned so much from other bloggers about this whole indie thing, including yourself, so it’s nice to think this post might be helpful. Honestly, it was just a little experiment and, other than losing $10, it was pretty easy to do. 🙂
aww shucks, but its true, the blogging world is amazing at giving out helpful information, and its only because of kind authors like you that we get all this free info, and seriously, for someone like me, who is learning as I go, it is invaluable. I have so many posts bookmarked for when I get to the publishing stage. like this one 🙂 ❤
If I do go down the indie route, I’ll definitely be coming back to this post of yours, Helen! Thanks for taking the time to share your results. Seems like a lot of marketing efforts! I’m constantly amazed at people like you who have a strategy and keep at it! 🙂
Thanks for reading! I’ve learned so much by other people sharing their experiences, so it’s nice to know this post might be helpful 🙂
Very useful, Helen. I’ve put this on my Flipboard to refer to in future. Thanks for sharing the experience
Thanks, Graeme – you’re very welcome, glad you found it helpful 🙂