Free Ebook Promotion, or How I Got Ranked with John Grisham in 4 Days

I wouldn’t recommend doing the free ebook promotion how I did it.

I was told to plan 30 days in advance – I started planning the night before.

Amazon gives you 5 days to promote your book for free out of 90 days. Most people tell you to only use 2 or 3 at the most your first time. I used 4 days.

One thing I did right – I tracked and didn’t give up until I reached my goal. I got people involved (on Twitter and Facebook), emailed all my closest friends and family and followed (some of) the wisdom of the authors who had previously gone before me.

I didn’t plan it, and I did it by the seat of my pants. I wasn’t even really sure what the point of giving a book away for free would be. Like I said in my initial post about why I was going to try out the promotion, I was afraid it would “devalue” my book (which was silly because it wasn’t selling more than a few a day anyway). What I didn’t mention was my fear that I was giving Amazon too much power. However, before I decided to enroll in KDP Select (Kindle’s monopoly on my book), my Barnes and Noble Nook ebook wasn’t selling at all. So, I figured I would try it out.

Amazon has 3,000+ new titles going for free nearly every day. The competition is tough.

The Night Before: Planning the Free Kindle Promotion

I decided to start the promotion the day before I ran it. Every post I began reading over the next few days giving tips on how to run a free Kindle book promotion suggested planning a month in advance (giving websites at least three weeks notice about posting). For example, the top site “Pixel of Ink” asked to give at least 30 days notice (probably why I never got on their site).

Before the book promotion, I was selling at my peak 3 ebooks/day. I never reached higher than #300,000 on Kindle’s best seller’s list. The night before I launched the book, I was ranked about 1,500,000 in Amazon’s ebooks. Nothing worth noting. That night, I spent 4-5 hours researching how to promote it.

I had two goals:

  1. Reach the top 100 of Kindle Free Books Best Sellers
  2. Break 5 figures in downloads.

I succeeded in both of these goals – I dedicated a LOT of time promoting it. Make sure you have reviews on Amazon before running a Kindle Promotion.

I knew that I needed to get a few of the heavy hitter free ebook blogs on board – ones with 1,000′s and tens of 1,000′s of followers. Every article that I read that night mentioned a few blogs that would help equal success. These are the blogs that the majority of free Kindle seekers go to, and these are the ones who come up first in Google searches. (Novel Publicity published one of the best articles that I found on tips for authors.)

(YOU CAN SKIP THIS PART IF YOU AREN’T AN AUTHOR INTERESTED IN PROMOTIING YOUR EBOOK)

Here’s where I submitted for FREE:

  • Digital Book Today (Scroll to the bottom and see #12 to submit. They request that you have at least 10+ reviews with an average of 4+ stars rating. They posted my novel, but Anthony Wessel wasn’t too happy at my last minute submission – please don’t do what I did!)
  • eReader News Today (I was supposed to submit three days before the promo & in order to be considered, you have to have a high rating in your reviews for them to post it. My mom was the one who noticed it was up – she happens to subscribe to their Facebook page – I was the first book on their listing!)
  • Authors on the Cheap (Facebook page)
  • Freebies4Mom (I haven’t seen this listed on any other book site, but she has nearly 200k fans on Facebook & a LOT of mommy fans. Heather’s site pushed my novel over the 5-digit download mark.)
  • PAIDKindle Nation Daily (I took $30 out of my Kickstarter money to market my novel for this promotion. It was worth it)

Other random sites that picked me up, but that you might consider submitting to!

Twitter accounts that tweeted about it and will help promote Indie authors:

Obsessively Track ebook Sales

Most articles suggest only promoting your book for 2 out of the 5 days at once. But for me, I was getting more and more momentum every day – I couldn’t give up after 2 days. Perhaps planning would have meant not giving up as many days. But the way I saw it, the more days I was ranking, the more exposure I was getting – to start from ZERO in a few weeks seemed pointless.

At the end of the first day, I was already #57 in the Kindle store’s free Contemporary Fiction, but hadn’t yet ranked anywhere in the entire Kindle store.

The end of the second day, I was getting closer! I was now under the top 200′s of the entire Kindle store, and had climbed to #16 in Contemporary Fiction. Over 3,000 people had downloaded the book so far.

But it wasn’t until the 3rd day (a Friday) that extraordinary stuff started happening. This is when the websites started posting about my book, and downloads were fast and furious.

When I hit #8 in Contemporary Fiction, and saw my name next to THE John Grisham – it was certainly a shock, and made me realize just how many people now had their hands on my novel.

I finally ended the promotion on Saturday night – and with over 11,000 downloads just in the United States (the UK hit didn’t garner nearly as many downloads) and hitting #28 in the entire Kindle Books and #6 in Contemporary Fiction at its peak – I felt like I had set out to accomplish my goals! Now, let’s see what I can do in a day knowing what I know.

The big question was – would I make any money after the promotion was over?

My ranking disappeared for a few hours, and when it reappeared, my novel was certainly higher than it had ever been. It’s now Tuesday and my book has remained around the top 3,000 to 5,000 paid Kindles and I’ve sold more in three days than I had ever sold before in the same time frame.

On a side note, the day after the promo ended – I received my first negative review and a second GREAT review. Unfortunately, the first reviewer didn’t take the time to read the entire book (that’s another blog post altogether – oy, it hurt!), and the second reviewer pleaded with people to FINISH it. YES PLEASE!

What would I do differently in promoting my Kindle?

I would have taken more time to plan, and put more thought into who I would have reached out to.

I would have jacked up the price the day before the promotion (value would have seemed better to those getting the free download).

I would have seeded the community with teasers.

But overall, I’m EXTREMELY happy with how it turned out, and HIGHLY recommend it to other indie authors. Now, it’s time to turn those downloads into a book deal!

2 thoughts on “Free Ebook Promotion, or How I Got Ranked with John Grisham in 4 Days

  1. Pingback: A Few Negative Book Reviews to Keep you Laughing | Meagan Adele Lopez' Blog

  2. I clicked on to try this next week, but this morning felt very apprehensive!  At least I did until I read your suggestions.  Now I feel like diving into this thing and seeing if I can make anything happen.  Thanks for posting, and your novel looks like a fun read!

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