I'm no marketing pro. I'm just a guy who loves to write. Yet, as I've said here, the adventure of artisanal publishing requires hand-crafting a unique book AND getting it to readers.
A few weeks ago, I watched in amazement as thousands of readers downloaded my debut novel. Day one: a thousand downloads. Day two: over ten thousand. When it rains, it pours. By the end of the five-day free promotion, 18,566 had downloaded it.
Two questions you might ask (as I have): how did I reach so many people and was it worth it?
First, how? While the free promotion market may seem saturated, there are several important ways to signal that your book stands apart. Most important, BookBub. I can't say enough good things about this company. They curate a daily email with free and discounted books. Key word: curate. They have an editorial board ensuring the books they list are at least worth checking out. I was delighted and honored to have made their cut. My guess is that their listing of my book directly contributed as many as 10,000 downloads.
Thanks to that spark, the promotion started spilling over into other websites. Dozens of these websites listed my book without any input from me. Also, as downloads increased, my ranking on Amazon skyrocketed. This made my book all the more visible. It peaked as #7 of all Amazon free books. That's #7 out of tens of thousands. Wow. Pharrell's "Happy" made sense...
Second, worth it? I bet you can guess my answer, but let's avoid doubt: YES. I'm not writing for short-term gains, so I have no qualms with giving away books if that reaches more readers. I believe the story and message are important. Even if only fraction of the downloaders read my book, I count it as success to have reached these previously-unknown readers.
Better yet, the free promotion will likely continue to prove its worth in the long-term. The promotion coincided with publication of the book's sequel. Sales of the sequel have been steady since the free promotion. Readers are discovering my first book, and they want to read the sequel. Some are posting positive reviews and emailing me with encouraging words. Can't beat that.
Will they want to read my next book? I sure hope so. I'm improving at both the writing and the artisanal publishing. There's plenty more to come.
Make your words count -- J.B.