Authors with free books or on the KDP select program everywhere started moaning doom and gloom about the effectiveness of a free book as a marketing tool. After all, if you couldn't advertise the free book everywhere, then how would you find readers with your free book?
Even today, if you look up marketing strategies for independent published authors, one of the first things you will hear is that "free doesn't work anymore."
I'm here to tell you that the people who say that are wrong.
If you write a good book that is edited well and have a good cover, having a book permanently free at every possible market you can place it is absolutely the best marketing tool an independent writer can use. Yes, even after March of 2013. Let me show you something (all of the numbers I'm going to show you are Amazon only, simply because that is my largest venue. DeeperShopping, B&N and Apple are about 10% each of Amazon, overall, so if you want info on those, just go with about 10%):
In March 2012, I published my first book: Sapphire Ice, Book 1 of the Jewel Trilogy. In April, I published Book 2, Emerald Fire. In May, I published the third and (at the time) final book in the series, Topaz Heat. I got reviews - professional reviews. I had a social media storm. I advertised everywhere I could advertise. I put books on sale for 99 cents. And, I sold, on my best month, 179 books. On my worst month, after all 3 were released, I sold 19.
Then, I wrote Greater Than Rubies, book 1.5 of the same series. It comes in between Sapphire Ice and Emerald Fire, and is the story of the wedding of the first couple. I intended it to be a quick, silly novella about a wedding of her dreams. But the Holy Spirit kind of got a hold of the story and it became a 50,000 word book that contains a very prominent salvation message right in the middle of it. The Holy Spirit also had my character, Robin, battle some pretty intense inner demons before her wedding night, and it's become something of a devotional tool for women who have found they have similar experiences. God has worked amazing things through this book that I never intended to write in the first place.
So, my Jewel Trilogy became the Jewel Series, and Greater Than Rubies was released on December 30, 2012.
It takes a bit of work to get a book permanently free on Amazon. It has to be free other places, then you have to notify Amazon of the free book, over and over again. Eventually, it will be come free there. And mine did, on February 9, 2013.
On Amazon alone, I gave away 35,588 copies of Greater Than Rubies to Amazon readers in the month of February with more than 3,000 downloads on the first day. Great, you say. You gave for free something that someone might have bought. What good does that do?
Well, I also sold 1,521 copies of my other books. My entire writing career of almost an entire year, I'd only sold 768 books, there. That's about double in a single month. And, in March, I gave away 13,354 copies of Greater Than Rubies, and sold 1,600 copies of my other books. In September, I sold almost 10,000 books. Overall, in fact my sales and ranking have not significantly declined since.
My ranking at Amazon reflects the difference a free book makes as well:
My author ranking on Amazon before the Greater Than Rubies release was never higher than #1913 - and that was a massive incline from an average ranking of about 10,000. Since the release of Greater Than Rubies, I've made it up to the top tens on several occasions, and am consistently in the top 300 for my genre.
My books, which at times have been ranked lower than 300,000th place on all of Amazon, have made it into the top 100 on ALL of Amazon's site, and consistently stay in the top 30 in their categories with a few becoming number 1 best sellers.
So, if you're wondering whether a permanently free book still "works" after the Amazon Affiliate changes, you can see that it definitely did for me. It worked for me. It might work for you or it might not. I must point out that I was led to do it after a time spent in prayer and fasting over where God wanted to take my writing career.
So, my advice is don't listen to the critics and the nay-Sayers. Pray about it. See where the Holy Spirit wants to lead you.
What have you discovered to be your best marketing strategy? Do you have a book for free anywhere? Have you seen a sales increase due to the free book?
I will be giving away autographed copies of A Melody for James and An Aria for Nick, books 1 and 2 in my Song of Suspense Series to one commenter. AND -- BONUS! One commenter will receive a paid registration and 2-nights hotel stay for the Arizona Dreamin' Romance Reader Event in Chandler, Arizona, May 30-June 1, 2014, at The Windmill Inn & Suites!
PLEASE TELL US YOU WILL BE ABLE TO USE THIS REGISTRATION GIVEAWAY IN THE COMMENTS!!
Here is more information about my latest release, An Aria for Nick:
The Only Man Who Can Save Her Life Has Been Dead for a Decade.
Raised in a loving home, Aria Suarez dreamed of becoming a professional pianist happily married to her high school crush. After the only boy who ever caught her eye dies a hero’s death and her wrist is shattered along with her future plans, she turns her brilliant musical mind to nuclear engineering and solving mysteries of science.
Abandoned to an abusive father at five, Nick Williams grew up dreaming of escape; of enlisting in the Army and leaving his wretched life behind; of proving himself worthy of the girl he loves. But the crucible of combat offers only the escape of death.
A decade later, Aria uncovers a nuclear plot that threatens the heart of our very nation. Sinister forces surround and threaten her when, out of nowhere, the man who reportedly died so many years before returns as if from the grave — intent on protecting her.
Has God finally joined them together?
Or is Aria doomed to mourn Nick twice?
To learn more about Hallee, visit her website at http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee/