From The Writer’s Guide To Publishing

With KDP Select, Pubit, and now KOBO offering direct uploads and price controlling, there are more authors than ever experimenting with making their books free. When I did my freebie experiment there weren’t very many free books out there so you were able to get massive amounts of downloads. Now, authors are reporting vastly reduced downloads when they make their books free, so it’s all very well promoting your book with a freebie, but you need to know where to advertise it to get the maximum exposure. Fellow author Karin Cox wrote a fantastic blog about it with some great references, and I wanted to share that with you today. Take it away Karin…

Slashing your e-book price and making it free–either the “old fashioned” way (by reducing your price on Smashwords or other online retailers and alerting Amazon), or by running free promotions on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program—can be a great way to increase your book’s Amazon ranking, however temporarily. It will expose your work to a wider, although non-paying, audience in the aim that some of those free readers will be so impressed by your exemplary storytelling skills they’ll review your book and count themselves among your most rabid fans, snapping up all of your other work. If nothing else, your e-book should get increased visibility when it reaches the upper echelons of the Kindle Free charts.

So how do you ensure that you get maximum eyeballs on your book and hit the coveted 5000+ downloads a day to really give your rankings a shake-up?

First, a lesson from the Boy Scouts: be prepared.

Contact sites that will help you promote free ebooks

There are a host of websites, facebook pages and twitter hashtags that will help you  spread the word about your free e-book, especially if you give them plenty of notice. And the good news is that many of them will do it for free. To help you keep track, register for Indie Review Tracker and use your personal online To-do List to remind yourself where you need to submit your free book listing, and when. You can also access loads more paid and free promotional sites to complement your “free ride,” and to aid you in following up with cheap and ongoing marketing efforts that will stop you from suffering that disastrous post-free rankings slump.

One month to two weeks before

Submit your title to Books on the Knob. This works best if your book is free for two consecutive days. A mention is not guaranteed.

Pandora Poikilos’s Orangeberry Book Tour site can list your e-book (at least 3 reviews are required and a spot is not guaranteed).

If you want to splash out and get your writing before a lot of potential readers, Kindle Nation Daily charges $29.95 for a Free Book Highlighter Service.

Centsible e-Reads may promote your freebie (scroll to the bottom of the page and complete the form).

Try getting an editorial submission for your book on Free Booksy—a site that also features affordable paid sponsorship packages.

Submit your freebie to the Frugal Reader freebie page (a feature is not guaranteed).

Follow Free eBooks Daily on Facebook or Twitter and then register to submit your free listing.

Submit your digital publication to Pixel of Ink, a very influential reader site that, if your book is chosen, will broadcast your book to thousands of subscribers.

If you write erotica it can be tough to find sites that will take on your work, but try submitting toSpicy Romance.

Free Kindle Books and Tips allows you to list for free, but prefers books with a 4* or higher rating.

Submit your book to GoodKindles for just $1.

If you have a lot of reviews and a 5* average, try for a free listing on Kindle Author.com, or, for $20 per title per day, you can guarantee your freebie will be listed.

Talisman Book Publishing offers free promotional opportunities for  e-books and is a lovely new start up site well worth checking out.

Try a free feature on Wonderworld Variety (although they don’t accept Zombie, vampire/werewolf, horror, erotica or anything controversial).

The week before

Submit to eReader News Today. There is no guarantee your book will make it on this influential site, but if it does, you can see a big increase in downloads.

Mediabistro.com’s Appnewser online chooses to feature several free e-books each week. Email your submission to appnewser@mediabistro.com

Feature on Bargain Book Hunter with a free listing (all genres except erotica). Submitting does not guarantee your book will run, but you can purchase a guaranteed free placement (48 hours before your free day) for $5.

If you have 10+ reviews and a 4*+ Amazon rating, and your ebook is full-length fiction and not erotica, submit it to the Digital Book Today Top 100 Free Ebook list.

Let Phil at Kindle Daily Deals know and have your free book alert sent to 15,000+ Facebook fans.

Going free on a Friday? You can add it to the Super E-books Friday Freebies page if you are Super E-books registered author. Indies Unlimited also runs a Friday feature, again called “Freebie Friday.” Visit the Indies Unlimited site on Thursday and watch for a post entitled “Freebie Friday Ramp-Up.”  You need to add your book’s title,  your name (author name), a blurb of just one sentence, and the link to the site that will have the book free the following day (Friday).

Three days before

Submit your book (all genres with the exception of erotica) to Ebooks Free Free Free. This will also submit it automatically to Indie Books List.

Can’t be bothered with all that palaver? Authors Marketing Club runs a page where you can click on each sites form and upload to many different sites at once (although you still have to submit forms to each site)

48 hours before

Make a minimal donation of just $2 to have your free eBook featured on Flurries of Words and promoted via their Facebook and Twitter.

On the day…

Eek! You’ve left it until the last minute!  Naughty, naughty. Not to worry, there are still ways to spread the word.

Register for our free forum membership and post on our “Look at Me! My Book’s Free”Forum.

Addicted to ebooks allows you to post about your book on the day it goes free only  (or the night before). You need to register first to do so. Registration is free. Registered users can also submit any of their books priced under $5.99 to the site’s listing.

Post in the Links to Free Books thread in the Book Bazaar on Kindleboards.

List your giveaway on Snicklist.

Alert the Facebook pages/groups below (depending on your book’s genre). Many allow you to promote your e-book on the page once a week, providing that you like the page first and share it with others, but always read the “About” section first to find out what their posting guidelines and permissions are.

Also, follow the lovely promotional folk below on twitter and let them know.

@kindlenews
@freeebookdeal
@IndieKindle
@WLCPromotions
@DigitalBkToday
@kindleebooks
@Kindlestuff
@KindleEbooksUK
@KindleBookKing
@KindleFreeBook
@free
@free_kindle
@FreeReadFeed
@freebookdude
@4FreeKindleBook
@FreeKindleStuff
@KindleUpdates
@ebook
@Bookyrnextread
@Kindlestuff
@KindleBookKing
@Booksontheknob
@Kindle_promo
@IndAuthorSucess
@CheapKindleDly
@KindleDaily

When you tweet, try using the hashtags #FreeKindleBook #freekindle #freebook #free #kindlepromo #freeebooks #IndieKindle #IndiePub #ebooks

A few more tips for free ebooks

  • Don’t try to go free before you have reviews. While a free run can garner reviews from grateful cheapskates readers, your downloads will be considerably reduced if you try it with no reviews to start with. Many of these sites will also not accept books with no reviews, and others require a 4* average. If you have just launched, try using Indie Review Tracker to find review sites or book bloggers that will review for free and that suit your genre first. You can even search by how long reviews take, to find a blogger who can review quickly.
  • Tag your e-book on Amazon with “free e-book” or “free.”
  • Make sure your dates are correct!  Most of these posts are scheduled in advance so if your book is not free, you will be blacklisted.
  • Make sure your Amazon ASIN or link is correct when you submit to sites (copy and paste it from Amazon rather than type it in).
  • Don’t use shortened links (bitly links, for example) or Amazon affiliate links. These will be immediately ignored and you will be blacklisted.
  • Don’t forget to post on your own Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pintrest and other sites, and let your website fans know too.
  • Post about your free book on twitter at least once every three hours over its free period. I know that seems like a lot (it does for me too!) but some studies have show that a post an hour is optimal on twitter.  Find more info here.