As most indie authors already know, one of the hardest things to do when it comes to getting your book and career off the ground is to get people to notice your work. Writing is not the most difficult part for most indie authors - after all, their writing passion and skill is what makes them decide to be authors. The difficult part for the majority of indie authors is actually marketing the book and getting it in front of audiences.
Whilst the big publishing houses have all the resources they need to publicise the authors they have on their books, indie authors have to do all this by themselves, drawing on various tools and resources to help them along the way. No matter how good an author believes his or her book might be, it will never get anywhere if potential audiences don't know about it.
One of the ways in which some authors have been able to overcome this problem is by offering their work for free periodically through KDP Select. With the free book promotion, those who are selling their eBooks through Amazon and are enrolled in the select programme are able to offer their work to customers for free, with up to five free days to use in every ninety day enrolment period. Giving away work free of charge may seem like a bizarre idea, and not all authors agree with it, but for many indie authors this has enabled them to gain a readership and get subsequent sales on their work once the free promotion is over.
However, it seems that offering free books is not enough to get things moving - you also have to promote your free promo! Okay, so promoting a promotion may seem a little long winded but using the right tools - and sometimes getting lucky - can prove hugely helpful in terms of how many free downloads you get on your free days. The higher your number of free downloads, the higher you will be in the free rankings and the more exposure your book gets. Although this does not affect your paid rankings once the free day is over, you can also benefit by your book appearing in the 'customers who bought this also bought...' listings on Amazon. The more customers who download it when it is free, the more of these lists it will appear on, so although you may be giving away a shed load of free books you will also be getting far more exposure than you might otherwise have had.
The most obvious ways that people will think of in terms of promotion is to use social networking sites, which means Facebook and Twitter. Whilst it is always worth posting something on these, it is unlikely that they are going to net you many downloads - in fact, you may not even get any downloads from these. Still, it only takes a second to post so why not?
What can prove hugely helpful, I found, is finding a site that has thousands of opt in customers who are going to be looking for the sort of thing you are offering - free books! There are a number of sites that you can choose from, some of which will actually highlight your free book free of charge. One of the sites that I tried recently made a huge difference to my free download levels, and this was a site called Ereader News Today (ENT).
I submitted a form to have my short story placed on their site five days before my promotion. Now, the site cannot guarantee that your book will go on but since you don't pay them anything that's fine. Hopefully you will get lucky and the book will go on. If not, you are not out of pocket so nothing lost. The day of my free promotion my free book had accrued around 125 downloads for the day. However, as the evening approached in the UK (which would, of course, be afternoon in the USA) everything went crazy. At one point I popped to make a cup of coffee and when I got back another 140 people had downloaded the book! The numbers were suddenly going up so fast and furiously that I checked the ENT website - and there was my short story!
In total that evening I managed to get a whopping 3000 downloads, sending my book soaring to the top of many of the categories and within the top 100 in the free kindle store. There is one more site that I am eager to try, although I have not managed to get my book on with them as yet for a free promo promotion. Pixel of Ink has some great reviews and is a site that I will be continuing to try and get one of my free promos featured on so that I can compare results.
Of course, free promos are not for every author - some are steadfastly against these promotions. For others, these promos are an invaluable marketing tool. For those who do decide to use free promos, it is well worth planning your promo day properly rather than wasting it, which means getting the word out there about your free book.