It’s been a couple of years since I did my first freebie book offer on Amazon and it’s truly amazing how the e-publishing world has changed since then. With remarkably little preparation, and insufficient research, I managed to get a download count (according to Amazon’s stats) well in excess of a thousand books. This led to a big surge in sales of the second book in the Astronomicon series causing it to briefly jump into the top 100 paid science fiction novels. Over the next couple of months my sales stayed high, and even sales of the first book seemed to benefit from the freebie promotion.
I’ve done a few similar promotions since, each with similar levels of preparation and similar results, although I never really surpassed the first one. However last month’s freebie, the first I’d done in over a year, I really believed would blow the original one out of the water. Firstly the book in the offer was better, much better (better cover, better content, much larger, better reviews). Secondly the saving was much more significant, making the freebie seem even more appealing. However the main feature I believed would make the difference was preparation. I contacted over sixty blogs and e-book websites, worked out an announcement schedule, prepared a network of relevant reposters on Google+, Twitter and Facebook, worked extensively on my blurb, gathered more direct followers/friends on several social networking sites, Goodreads and Triberr. I also worked on hype building and getting the word out any way I could.
As if all that wasn’t enough, I did a lot a research to strategically pick the best days to launch the freebie promotion and much, much more. After many hours of work the big day arrived and the offer launched. At first downloads of the free e-book were flying but then, after the first 8 hours, things slowed down drastically. By the end of the second and final day of the offer, I’d come close to the total achieved in that original freebie offer, but not actually beaten it. Given the work put into the whole effort, I felt sensible to expect two or three times the results of the original promotion.
And it’s not just me. I’ve read a lot of comments in the last few months from Amazon authors saying that they are lucky to shift 200 free copies of their novels. Thankfully I did a lot better than that, but was it worth the colossal amount of planning and preparation, posting and announcing? Probably not.
Will it get better in the future? Time will tell, but I’m not confident.