category marketing

We gave away 3,000 books. Here’s why you should give away your books, too

A few weeks ago, I organized a free e-book giveaway with several of the authors I work with. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we all wanted to do something to give back and help readers staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results were more successful than any of us dreamed. Nine authors, with a total of ten different titles, gave away 3,000 eBooks in a five-day period.

Now you might ask, why would you want to give away your book? There are a lot of reasons. The first, and most important, was to help others in a difficult time. I do want to stress that. But there are also some very good marketing reasons to give away eBooks, also.

Many independent authors find that most of their online book sales come from personal appearances—book signings, seminars, or other events that require we meet people face-to-face. But in the time of coronavirus, those type of events just aren’t happening, and while many people are reading more while staying inside, an author can’t count on those readers just stumbling across their book while perusing Amazon. You have to help the readers find you. That means a special promotion.

Amazon allows you to run a free promotion on your eBook for five days every quarter. It also allows you to run a Kindle Countdown Deal (reducing the price to .99 cents, for seven days every quarter. If you market your book to readers while doing a price promotion, you can increase the number of people who read your book, boost your ranking on the Amazon bestsellers list, and gain more reviews.

I think one of the important things that made this particular promotion so successful was that several authors banded together to promote it. We used the Open Door Publications newsletter to launch the campaign, then followed up with each author promoting the campaign and their own books on social media. In addition, I “boosted” the ad on Facebook, which meant it was also seen on Instagram.

Lessons learned

While I’ve done free promotions before, I’ve never done a group promotion such as this. As with any first endeavor, we learned a few things.

  • The authors who did extra social media promotions to their own followers sold more books. One author, Chris Kern, made it particularly easy for his followers. He took a screen print of his page on Amazon and used a big arrow to show people exactly where to click.
  • Some titles did better than others, and I think that had as much to do with the pandemic as anything on the authors’ part. The “heavier” titles did not sell as well as the lighter, possibly easier to read books.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I spent $1.75 to “boost” my Facebook post. This mean the post got play on Instagram, and that’s where it seems most of the sales came from.
  • The biggest mistake we made was not doing a follow-up promotion of the books at .99 cents or $1.99. While the books were already on everyone’s minds, I think we could have translated the free book promo into a greater number of sales the next week.

Love Out of Reach by Jack Saarela

historical fiction

love out of reach bookcover

Maria first heard him on an anti-Nazi radio address when she was nine years old. In the years that followed, Dietrich Bonhöffer, famed German theologian, became her teacher, friend, and finally, her fiancé. But as World War II broke upon them, Bonhöffer was part of a small but courageous remnant of German Christians who actively resisted the Nazi encroachment on both state and church… a wartime thriller and a tender story of love in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

In Search of the Perfect Onion Ring by Chris Kern


book cover in search of perfect onion ring

What happens when you suddenly learn your dad won’t be around much longer? We take them for granted, dismiss them, or complain about their quirks. We know they won’t be around forever, but what happens when you suddenly realize that time is almost here? Chris Kern takes us from his dad’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer to his death. This is not just a book about cancer, grief or loss. It is about the day-to-day life of a father and son, and lessons learned about life, his dad, his sons, and himself.

Captive Truth by Karen Stary

literary fiction

captive truth bookcover

A mercenary, a gambler, and a warlord are drawn together for a high stakes poker game. The trophy: a woman, Christine. They are men of unquestionable wealth, indomitable power, and overwhelming guilt; each is enchanted by Christine’s alluring beauty and each relentlessly desires to have her for himself.

The 7-10 Split by Janice Detrie

cozy mystery

Professor Vlad Chomsky has a comfortable life—until his wife leaves him for her bowling team manager.
Feeling like a “used husband” Vlad begins a new life, making new friends who help him discover that even the impossible seven-ten split really is possible. With his new landlady, a 90-something former burlesque queen, her tiny Toy Poodle Gaston, her un-handyman Norm, librarian Beatrice Krup who has a crush on him, and of course, Britney, his new love and student activist, this motley cast of characters manages to draw him into a terrorist plot—and help him save the town from a crazed saboteur.

Finding Kate by Meryl Carmel


finding kate book cover

Based on a bare-bones memoir and family diaries, letters and reminiscences, Finding Kate: The Unlikely Journey of 20th Century Health Care Advocate Kate Macy Ladd reveals one woman’s life of faith, charity, and resilience. Kate faced many challenges, including poor health and treatment by doctors who preferred to keep wealthy women under care even if unnecessary. She devoted her time, energy, and wealth to helping others. Despite her tremendous generosity and many unique contributions to society, her story has long lingered in the shadows. In Finding Kate her compelling journey is at last revealed.

Fate’s Hand by Melissa Macfie


fate's hand bookcover

Brenawyn McAllister has come back to the fabled city of witches to the only family she has, her grandmother. But once home she is accosted and pursued, hounded by obscure visions that prove, so her grandmother says, that she has a potential for magic. A devout Catholic, Brenawyn questions her faith when too many events, irreconcilable with her own beliefs, refuse to be ignored. And then there is Alex Sinclair. Is he just a simple college professor? Or is he something more?

Reliquary’s Choice by Melissa Macfie


reliquary's choice bookcover

With the Coven closing in, Alex flees with Brenawyn to Tir-Na-Nog, even though he knows he is setting her on a path of no return. Brenawyn must say goodbye to her family forever and traverse time. She is the only one who can fulfill an ancient prophecy. But what is Alex hiding? Has he condemned Brenawyn to serve the gods forever? Or will the depth of his sacrifice bring salvation to them both? In Book Two of The Celtic Prophecy, Alex prepares Brenawyn to travel to ancient Scotland to claim her rightful place.

You Can’t Stop Greatness! Finding the Grace to Live with Purpose by Kesha Cox


you can stop greatness book cover

God is with you…every day. That is the message of You Can’t Stop Greatness, by Kesha Cox. Cox’s devotional book was written to share her own experiences in being tested in her relationship with God. “Through God’s grace, and his love for me, I made it. I decided not to be a victim of the past and a began to walk in healing and freedom.” Kesha was inspired by and encouraged by countless Bible scriptures she read daily and decided to write a devotional to help others in the midst of their own struggles.

Terrorists & Global Manipulation by doc mike


fallout bookcover

It’s 1999 and the FBI is searching for terrorists in New York City. There are many threats out there and lots of players on the board, from the FBI and CIA, to independent terrorist cells, to computer programming experts. But who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? And who is really behind the scenes pulling the strings? For FBI agent Bob Hollis and his family, the international terrorist threat is about to get very personal. Terrorists and Global Manipulation is the first book in a three-part series.

Self-Publishing: You Can Do This! by Karen Hodges Miller


book cover self publishing you can do this

There’s never been a better time to be an author. But with over 2 million books published yearly, there has also never been more competition. How can you stand out? Self-Publishing: You Can Do This! gives you a step-by-step guide on how to write, publish, and market your book. Starting at the beginning, it helps authors think about everything from how to organize their book, to when to write, to choosing a topic that sells. Whether you are a first-time author or an experienced indie publisher, there is something for you in Self-Publishing: You Can Do This!

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