How To Generate Sales By Offering Freebies

As a keen reader I often scout Amazon for free downloads for my Kindle.  These offers give me the chance to discover new authors which very probably leads to the purchase of their other titles.  Confirming this in a blog post last week was book editors Bubblecow with their post, The Secret of Giving Your Book Away For Free which concludes that by offering a well-written book for free generates good reviews which translate into future sales.  I believe this is a method that can work across many business models. After all, how many times do we purchase something because of a seemingly tantalising special offer?

By coincidence, an author friend of mine was planning to offer one of her erotica books for free as an experimental promotion.  The book would be available for free for 48 hours only - the 5th and 6th of December 2012.  Here is Indigo Moore's experience.


Geekalicious Guest PostI had no idea whether offering a free title on Kindle would work as a promotional tool - after all, people are always tempted by a freebie, regardless of whether the item is something that they really want. So I didn't hold out much hope of it translating into a realistic amount of publicity.

I didn't help myself by forgetting to prime any of the promotional websites - those pages that advertise upcoming Kindle freebies. Real life got in the way and it was only when I received a rather disappointed-sounding email from my publisher bemoaning the lack of downloads at the beginning  of the free period that I realised what I (hadn't) done. I did then send a slightly panicky message to the managers of the Free Digital Reads website and they very kindly put my details out at short notice, but that was the only third party promotional site that I used.

I decided that the best method at this point would be use the contacts I've got on Twitter and Facebook. I posted a link for the promo on my personal accounts as well as the Indigo Moore ones, asking people to share wherever they felt possible (erotica not necessarily being as 'shareable' as, say, children's books).

A quick note on promotion vs. anonymity seems relevant here. Although I write erotica under a pseudonym, I have never gone out of my way to hide that it's actually 'me' under the pen name. This makes it much easier for me to push my own stories, as I can use my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as my author ones. I can also bribe / bully / cajole my friends and online acquaintances to share my commercial links through their own networks.
If I was writing anonymously I think it would have been much harder, as it immediately cuts out many of the potential media outlets.

Given my rather slapdash methods, I wasn't expecting great results. However…

My story hit the #1 spot on the UK free erotica charts within 24 hours. By the end of the free period it was at #9 in the States.  Amazingly, it also got to #28 across all free Kindle categories in the UK. There are currently 43,138 free titles on that list, which makes my final placing pretty goddamn awesome by anyone's standards.

But still, I did wonder whether it would have any impact on 'actual' sales, or whether it'd turn out to be a flash in the pan (albeit one which now permits me to say 'I made number one once, you know' to anyone who'll listen).

It's only a day after the promotion closed, so possibly too soon to tell really. But the other five (paid) titles that I currently have available on Amazon all took a jump up the charts in the 24 hours after the promo closed and social interactions (via Twitter, Facebook and my website) have increased noticeably. I've had enthusiastic comments (and promises of telling friends about me) from people I've never met, both here and in the States.

And publicity is the crux of the matter - the absolute fuel to a writer's commercial survival. Readers are much more likely to take a punt on one of your paid titles if they're already familiar with your work and confident that they'll like it. Content is everything - the more work you put out there, the more likely people are to find you. I had six titles available before we decided to run a free promotion - much less than that and it wouldn't be worth doing, as I wouldn't have enough in my catalogue for people to buy even if they wanted to.

At the end of the period my story had been downloaded over two and a half thousand times

Maybe I was lucky, maybe people genuinely like my writing, or maybe I just know a lot of brilliantly active people on social media - either way, it's been a very positive experience.


If you want to find out more about Indigo Moore you can delve into these links: