This is kind of a follow-up article to the one I did a while back. As authors, most of us detest the "M" word. I'm no exception. But, if you play your cards right, marketing opportunities can literally fall in your lap- FREE ones at that!
So, now you're wondering what stupendous things I'm going to tell you. This works very well if you're a prolific author. The reason being, the tactic is to draw folks to you, and your hopefully healthy backcatalog. This is pretty much a no-cost option to getting ebooks in people's hands. And you know what? I didn't think this up. I owe all the credit to one of my Indie author peers. He suggested this to me, simply because it worked for him—so well, he finally got to quit his day job and become a writer full time. How did he do it? He wrote a "free" ebook.
By free, he explained to me that I was to write either a novella or a full length novel. Even better, make it the first book in a series to get readers hooked and wanting more. Once completed, I got beta readers to go over it, and made any corrections. Since I have the know-how, I formatted and did the cover—all for little to no cost. The less money I put into it, the better. It didn't mean I was to cut corners, no, that book had probably 12 editing passes by me. Was it perfect? No! In fact I've had to make corrections and upload new versions. But I did the best I could for the lack of money.
Once you have this free ebook done, now you need to get it up on the internet for the entire world to see. This is where it can get a little tricky. We all know Amazon is the best place to get exposure. BUT, they won't let you put a book up there for free (unless you do the KDP Select with it). So, how do you get Az to price your book for free if you don't want to do Select? It requires a little patience, but in the end, it's worth it.
First: publish the book on Smashwords.com. You can list it there for free. Cool, tell folks about it. SW isn't as well known and the mighty Az, but, they also have a deal with Az that involves price matching. So, once your book is showing up free on SW, go to Az and publish there (just slap a .99 price on it for now) then get your friends, fellow authors, whomever, to log onto Az and use the price matching feature. They will need the link to your book for both sites. It took me just over a month and Az dropped the price to free.
Second: the media blitz. Facebook is a wealth of information, if you know where to look—or like me, just have dumb luck and stumble upon it. I started noticing my "friends" showing links to eReader News Daily and Pixel of Ink. Both are sites that post free Kindle books on a daily basis. I went to the eReader News website, found a contact email, and sent them a very polite email letting them know I had a free ebook on Amazon (and it was totally free, not KDP Select) and gave them the link. They sent me a nice email back and informed me of the day they would post my book (it was a Friday, I think). Up until now, my book had seen good movement in the free sci-fi-adventure category on Az but nothing fantastic. After eReader News posted that link, I could sit and watch my downloads going up by the very minute! I had over 1,000 downloads in ONE DAY!!! I was absolutely amazed! At the peak of the downloading frenzy, my book was #4 on the list.
Third: don't sit back on your laurels. Yes, I had a "bestseller" on my hands, but that didn't mean I stopped. I did my best to politely post on as many Facebook pages as I could— being mindful not to be spammy about it. I used Twitter and finally figured out how those hashtags worked. By using #free #ebook #Kindle #sci-fi in my tweets, folks searching those words might stumble over my link for the book. It must've worked; I've picked up quite a few new followers on Twitter. Which leads me to:
Fourth: steering them to you! We're all just minnows in this giant sea of publishing. So how do you get someone to find you? Well, simple, tell them! When posting on Facebook or Twitter, don't be afraid to insert your Amazon author's page link. Yes, you're tooting your own horn, but in case you haven't noticed, no one else is there to do it for you. And make sure that page is as compelling as you can get it. Have the best picture you can of yourself, a bio that's interesting, perhaps a bit funny, and engages your audience to want to know more about you and your books. Basically, you're pimping yourself.
Okay, so now you've done all this, what to expect? I have the book posted on SW, Az, and Barnes and Noble—all for free. What I've seen is a gradual increase in my backcatalog sales- especially on Az. I went from making $4/mo in royalties on Az to making $20-30/mo. No, it's not a huge jump, but the good thing is I'm selling a book or two every day from my backcatalog. The free ebook is still getting downloads (it has fallen in the ranking but is still in the top 100) and now folks have hopefully read their free sample and are looking at what else I have to offer; or looking forward to part two.
Now, what next? More marketing! What? What? You say? More??!! Yes, this is the easiest of all. When you are formatting your books, don't forget to either put in the front or back matter any links you have: website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, anyway you would want your adoring fans to have access to you. ---A word of caution: DO NOT put your Az author page, or your SW author page—you will run into problems with conflicts of interest between the sellers and they may dump your book. Just use non-company related sites. If the book is part one of a series, don't forget to put: "Watch for Part 2 of ________" so they know there is more to come. And list any of your backcatalog along with your bio at the end, so they know you offer something else to read.
This strategy worked well for me. Will it work for you? You never know until you try. There are so many ways to get your book out there, but for many of us, we can't afford to fork out loads of dough for advertising. So use what's freely available and make it work. Don't be afraid to be creative—we're writers for Pete's sake—we're supposed to be creative!
Until next time, my creatively obsessed friends,
My Az author page: (yes, that photo is just about a year old now)
And the link to my free ebook:
Here's a few inspirational pictures of the world I live in: these are literally in my backyard.