I know that giving something away for free may not seem like a smart business move, but let me explain. Free giveaways can be a very effective business tool when you think of those freebies as a marketing expense (the cost of exposure) rather than lost sales. Free promotions are a great way to get you exposure in front of your target audience, expand your following, and drive sales in the long run. The key is to know how to take advantage of free.
What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example: one author I worked with hosted a free promotion that lead to 37,000 downloads of her eBook. The following day when the promotion was over, she sold 1,300 eBooks. I know that 37,000 may seem like a lot of lost sales, but instead, think of that number as a conversion number. While you can’t get all of the 37,000 downloaders to become fans, within that group are your fans and readers, perhaps around 1,000 or so. They are the ones who take the time to read the book, and who may even write a review. You’ll gain enough of a following to start building a fan base, and you can continue to market to these people in order to keep the connection strong. Don’t worry about the freeloaders, instead, focus on those downloaders who will take the time to read your book, and become a fan.
Still not sure how you can make this work for your book? Below are a few benefits of free, and how to use free promotions effectively to get more fans and sales:
1. Make your title attractive: Being discovered by readers is a real challenge for authors these days; there are an estimated 350,000 books published each year, which means readers are inundated choices. By making your title free, you make your title attractive, and make it easy for readers to choose your book over another author’s book. Freebies are a way to introduce readers to you in a risk-free way, and there’s a good chance that they’ll want more. By offering a risk-free introduction to you and your books, you have gained a fan who will pay for your books in the future.
2. Promotion: To make the most of this free promotion, and to make sure you reach the most potential readers, spread the word about your promotion – share it with your email list, in your newsletter, with your social media fans, etc. For instance, take advantage of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program, which allows you to offer your book for free through KDP Select. You will have to sell your book on Amazon exclusively during this period, but it can be one of the most effective ways to get your book seen by a large number of readers at once. There are other free giveaway opportunities available on sites like Library Thing and Goodreads. Both these sites allow members to give away copies of their books, but again, for these freebies to work you do need to promote your giveaway, both on the site you use and to your own network.
3. Price competitively: So how should you price your book once your free promotion is over? As mentioned above, readers are inundated with choices, and pricing can make a huge difference in which books readers will choose. If you want to build a fan base, you’ve got to price your book competitively within your genre or niche. How do you determine pricing? Look at books in your market and find the average price. Amazon is a good place to do this research, but keep in mind you may see a lot of eBooks listed for free as part of a promotion or the Kindle Lending Library; look at regularly priced books.
4. Stay relevant: As you grow your fan base, don’t neglect those who have been following you for some time. Make sure to keep their attention by checking in with them on a regular basis. Let your fans know that you are interested in them and that you appreciate them. Once you have made gained followers, cultivate this relationship by: share ideas, post great content, and make connections on social media. The more you reach out, the more effective you’ll be at building and growing your fan base.
5. Invite them into your world: The concept of free extends beyond your books. Invite followers into your world, but offering additional freebies such as tips, videos, webinars, and content. Use your blog, social media, videos, etc. to draw readers into your world. Be informative and entertaining by providing additional fun, free content. For fiction authors, share tidbits about your characters, blog in character, ask fans to help them select music for the characters, or post fun quizzes. Nonfiction authors can use their expertise to create tip sheets, informational videos, and mini eBooks. Identify how you can connect with fans in different ways, and be sure to offer variety.
Keeping in mind the tips above, you can leverage the power of free to grow your fan base, and in turn, drive sales down the road. However, it’s important for you to remember that there’s no one marketing strategy that will help attract and retain fans; freebies are only one tool at your disposal to attract and retain fans, which can complement your other marketing efforts.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.