As a follow-up to the Free Books on Amazon post, I thought it was important to share my second free promo experience with my followers and friends. I wanted to explain the differences in my approach the second time along with the results. I will offer my opinions throughout, but the information is complete enough that you should be able to form your own conclusions.
First, it is important for you to understand my motivation for writing. For those of you who have never heard of Kevin Parrett, let me tell you a thing or two about myself. I am not a writer by profession. I am actually a business professional who doesn't sleep well. Unless you work for my company or one of our partners, you probably haven't heard of me and I'm OK with that…for now. Because writing is not my profession, I have some different views about how to market my works. Below are a few simple truths that may help explain my madness.
- I have two amazing kids who have inspired me to write something that they would enjoy reading.
- Because this is not my job, I don't need to make money on my writing to survive.
- I want to inspire all kids to want to read and write.
Because of these three things, I will gladly give my books away for free if it means that kids will actually read them. If I am successful in getting my books into classrooms, libraries, and reading groups over the next few years, maybe then I can try to turn a profit on it. Let's face it, an author owns his works even after he is dead. I am still young enough to wait for true writing success as measured by the traditional bestseller lists.
Duration of free promo: The biggest difference in my approach for my second free promo was that I ran the promo for two days instead of one.
Promote others: One week prior to my free promo, I publicly vowed to help my fellow authors out there by retweeting their book advertisements. I tried to select tweets with working links to books that had decent reviews. (I didn't want to direct my followers to crappy books.) I did not ask for anything in return. I just hoped that some would return the favor during my promo as I supported over 100 authors in one week by promoting their works.
Scheduled Tweets: I reached out to my 4,200 twitter followers (at that time) and facebook users to ask if they would be annoyed by a heavy onslaught of self-promoting tweets for two days. I know this is a strange thing to ask, but let's face it, I didn't want to lose half of my followers because my tweets got annoying. I received several messages with various opinions, but one resonated very well with me. I was told to look at the number of people my followers were following. Most have hundreds or even thousands of accounts that they follow. They have thousands of tweets cross their screen each hour and they only read a small sampling of them. The only way to reach those followers is through repetition. I scheduled unique tweets to go out every 15 minutes for two days. This took a long time to setup, but I think it was worth it in the end.
Unique Tweets: Twitter has rules about sending the same tweet over and over again. They won't allow it. Twitter, however, is very literal in this rule. I only had about 30 unique tweets, but I modified punctuation by adding a period, a hyphen, or exclamation point to get around the unique tweet rule.
Facebook: Lastly, I registered my free promo with several facebook user groups dedicated to free ebooks.
January Promo: As a recap to my January promo, The Wolf's Curse was free for one day and reached 301 worldwide downloads. My book was listed in the following categories: Children's Action & Adventure and Children's Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic. At the peak of the promo, The Wolf's Curse reached #9 and #14 in those categories and #1,258 on the overall Amazon Kindle bestseller list.
February Promo: Using the techniques described earlier in this post, my February numbers were much better. I had 1,122 worldwide downloads. Over 50 of those downloads were from countries outside the US! My book reached the #2 spot in Children's Action & Adventure and the #3 spot in Children's Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic. Overall, The Wolf's Curse got to the #387 spot on the overall Amazon best seller list. Not bad for the second month since the 1st edition publish date.
Twitter reaction: I was overwhelmed by the positive reaction and support from my Twitter followers. I had hundreds of retweets throughout the two-day promotion. I also gained over two hundred new followers, but I did lose roughly twenty followers during the promo. With such a large number of followers, people unfollow everyday. I typically lose 5 per day due to account suspension alone, so losing 10 per day was not alarming to me. As with anytime you reach a large audience, a heckler is a possibility. I had one person who lashed out at me, but upon inspecting his other tweets, it appeared that his account was nothing but ugly comments to everyone he followed. I chose not to respond to him and he eventually unfollowed. He was the first follower I was pleased to lose.
Conclusion: While self-promoting consistently every 15 minutes is certainly a risky proposition, I believe it allowed me to reach a lot of readers. I am blessed by great followers who supported me and helped me reach over a thousand readers! That was my goal and I surpassed it. Thank you for the continued support!