A New Indie Author: Promotions and Giveaways

Why would anyone give a book away?  Aren’t we here to make money?  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t made any money yet on my book – Surprise!  But, like you, I keep plugging along (singin’ my song; sorry, I couldn’t resist.).  The logical reason for giveaways and promotions is obviously to get our name out there.  If we write a book and do nothing…then how will anyone find it?  Promotions should be a goal for any new writer.  It takes time to build an author’s platform, especially if this is our first book.  So don’t give up!  (I keep telling myself this over and over and over and . . .you get the idea.)

Anyway, in my first six months, I participated in a few promotions and giveaways and thought that maybe someone else could benefit from my experience.

Goodreads:  The important thing to know about a Goodreads giveaway is that you have to give away a physical copy.  So if you don’t have a paperback book, skip on over to CreateSpace and create an actual book.  You have to format it a little differently from an ebook but it’s not that difficult.  Then, order a box of books for yourself so you will be ready to mail them out at the conclusion of the promotion.  You don’t want to keep your readers waiting.  Marketing is everything!  Don’t forget that you are marketing YOURSELF and you want to be thought of as an author who is reliable, efficient and organized.  As a reader, would you want to wait weeks for a promised book?  No!

The giveaway is stress free for the author because Goodreads randomly chooses the names of the winners and you receive their names and address promising not to contact them otherwise (which sounds like a good idea to me).

An awesome advantage of a having a giveaway on Goodreads is that anyone who has your book on one of their shelves will be notified of that book’s giveaway.  Just recently I was notified of a giveaway of one of the books I have on my to-read shelf and I was excited!  I don’t know about you, but when I’m surrounded by excited people, it rubs off and keep me going.

I had two giveaways on Goodreads.  The first one was a few weeks after I published, Nov. 27-Dec. 27, 2014.  763 people requested it and I gave away five copies.  I received two reviews from this.

The second giveaway was March 5-April 5, 2015.  799 requests with three copies given away.  I haven’t received anything from it yet (there is one text review that just came in but I don’t know where that came from, and several people simply rated it without commenting).

The funny thing about this experience is that I found a paperback book for sale from somewhere in Arizona listed as “used” on Amazon “signed by the Author.”  Obviously, it was one of the giveaways.  So, hopefully the book was sold and read by yet another person.  Word of mouth!  Ha  (Newly published authors need to have a good sense of humor or we might end up crying.)

Amazon.  When I published Deadly Dating Games, I was adamant about NOT enrolling in the KDP Select program.  My feeling was that I wasn’t going to give in to such an enormous monster, telling us what to do or when to do it (I’m stubborn that way, ask my boyfriend).  You know what?  Soon after my resolve (after having zero sales through the Smashwords vendors) I gave up and admitted that Amazon must be doing something right.

One of the reasons to stay at Amazon is the KDP Select program where you have the option of giving your book away free for up to five days per each 90 day enrollment (or do a Countdown Deal).  We can listen to the arguments of giving/not giving your book away free, but for the new author, what choice do we have?  We need name recognition.

The trick to the Amazon giveaway is to be organized and plan ahead.  Since there were only five days to give my book away for free, I had to prepare ahead of time.  Once I preset the dates of the free promotion, I had work to do.  In retrospect, when or if I decide to have another free period, I will break it up, three days and then two days some time later.  I noticed that the downloads were significantly lower in the fourth and fifth days.  More on this below.

To maximize exposure of the free giveaway, I contacted sites that promoted free books.  Some required several weeks notice, so I had to plan my freebie days well in advance.  I think I calendared mine three weeks in advance.

To help me with suggestions as to where I should promote, I went to one of my favorite sites for newbies (and/or any indie author for that matter), eNovelAuthors.  They have links to helpful sites where you can promote a free book.

I also found an awesome site with a list of links that promote free and discounted books.  It also included a sample template email message.  Here is the site: TrainingAuthors.

Here is a sample of my email:

Subject Line:  FREE Kindle Promotion 3/18-3/22/15
I wanted to let you know that I have a special promotion on Amazon coming up where my book, Deadly Dating Games, will be available for FREE.

Available free on Wednesday, 3/18/15 through Sunday, 3/22/15.
Deadly Dating Games (ASIN:  B00PJAT2LY) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJAT2LY
Four reviews with an average of 4.8 star rating

Here is where you can find me online:

Blog:  www.joaniechevalier.wordpress.com
Website: http://www.joaniechevalier.com
Goodreads Author Page:  www.goodreads.com/JoanieC
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joanielynnchevalier
Twitter:  @JoanieChevalier

Thank you for letting your readers know about this free book promotion!

Best regards,
Joanie Chevalier

I sent this email to:

kindlenation@gmail.com and hppress@gmail.com  (Steve)

I also contacted about a dozen websites online.  I was promoted on some of them:

Slashedreads.com /included tweets $4.98
eBookLister.net / Free Listing
Freebookshub.com / $7.57 U.K. & 8.00 U.S.
Book Goodies / $20 I never knew if my book was promoted
The Reading Sofa (I was on their page and promised a review but I haven’t received one yet).
Kindle Book Review / $20
Digital Book Today / $15
ItsWriteNow.com / website/FB $10 website very professional looking
Kindle Book Promos / $20 for 5 days
Freediscountedbooks.com / $15
Book Boost  website/FB/twitter $5.99
Bargain eBook Hunter / tweets
Free eBooksDaily.com / tweets

Click here if you’d like to see several screenshots on the outcome of my promotions and the importance of always marketing.  Ranking Charts  As you will see, I went from being #1,043,240 on March 17  bestseller rank to #528 on 3/18 (first free day); #443 on 3/19, #473 on 3/20; #591 on 3/21; 929 on 3/22; and 1,591 on 3/23 (that’s why I mentioned above that when I do this again, I will only do a 2 day free stint at a time).

My book did go from an unknown to #32 in Top 100 Free Books during this period.  On the down side, I didn’t even think about printing out the page.  <sad face>  Since I forgot to print it out and frame it [did I say that out loud?], I have a goal of doing it again (but this time I want to be #32 on the Top 100 Paid Best Sellers)!

Total downloads for the five day Amazon promotion: 1,410

If you research and read about giving away free books on Amazon and the letdown afterwards of returning to flatline…yes, it is a letdown.  (That is another reason to have only two or three free days: you have more of a chance to ride the wave of people interested in looking at your book and perhaps purchasing it since they missed the free days.)  But that letdown should be the little voice  in our heads shouting, “Keep Going, Keep Going!”

Don’t be like me:  for four or five days after the freebie promotion I would return the the KDP page and look at my reports (don’t blush, we newbies do it at least oh, a <hundred times a day> I say this whispering). Ahem, anyway, I forgot to uncheck the Free box and every time I looked at my report all I would see was the green [flat] line.  Finally, I don’t know why or how I figured it out, but a light bulb went off in my head and my brain told my index finger to uncheck the free box, and Eureka! there were sales lines there, hidden behind the green [flat] line. Free Promotion Chart  Thank Goodness!  I can stop crying now knowing the world doesn’t hate me.

Good luck in your promotions and giveaways!



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