We’ve benefited from the thoughts and data provided by many authors and artists who have shared their experiences with free promotions. Kindle Select has been available for almost six months, and Smashwords’ “Read an Ebook Week” is schedule for March 4-10. This post includes links to some of the most interesting and helpful commentary on this topic, including experiences of creative types beyond publishing.
It’s not controversial to assume that free promotions can be a very productive marketing tool. Of course, when your product has costs associated with producing each item (like a paperback or , you’ve gotta crunch some numbers and figure out how much the publicity / awareness raising / brand recognition is worth. But digital books aren’t things – the concept of unit cost doesn’t make sense for e-books. So free promotions for digital content are less risky – you’re not putting any materials costs on the line. Just the potential profit from keeping your product at $4.99. The math requires some guessing (which may be informed by data) – are you gaining enough in publicity to outweigh the potential profit from sales?
At this point, the experiences of independent and self-published authors who have done free promotions points to a single conclusion: free promotions are a critical tool for independent authors and artists whose biggest challenge is to get their content noticed by readers, reviewers, and booksellers (and by that, I really mean Amazon’s algorithms). It doesn’t work for all authors, but the risks of doing it are so low that it’s difficult to find a reason not to give it a try.
What does success look like? The links below offer perspective.
Was It Good for You?: Great, good, and ho-hum experiences with free e-book promos
Over at EPUB World, Rose Andrade published a great end-of-year summary on the topic of free promotions. She groups authors’ responses into three groups and analyzes how and why some books do better than others. She also links to quite a few others, notably Ingrid Ricks and Kirsten Mortensen.
Author David Kazzie explains how his book went from “dead in the water” on January 24 to thousands of sales per hour on January 25. He speculates (plausibly) on what happened but ultimately concludes that he can’t know for sure why it was so successful.
M. Louisa Locke has some nice blog posts about her success with KDP Select.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select: Pros and cons
In January, Carolyn McCray wrote a dispassionate summary on Publishing Perspectives explaining when it makes sense for an author to seriously consider Kindle Select. She focuses more on the pros and cons of giving Amazon exclusivity and leveraging the lending library than addressing the strategy of free promotions, but it’s helpful analysis for anyone trying to get beyond the dogma (of the “Evil Amazon is Asking For Everything But Your First Born” variety) and fawning (Amazon is God’s Greatest Gift to Authors, Even Greater than the Birth of Your First Child).