Friday, 31 August 2012

Freebie Marketing Blueprint

Hi all,
Today's blog post is on Freebie Runs. I've given some fairly general advice here before on how to run one (i.e. get the link in as many places as possible) but what I want to do this time is experiment.
What we're going to do is run a freebie, and we're going to list every place we've submitted to on this blog (and note any costs incurred in doing so). We'll then monitor how many of them pick us up, and how far up the free charts we go.
If it works well the this blog post can become a blueprint for future free runs, and if it doesn't then we'll try to work out why not, and what we need to do differently next time.
This is the eBook we're going to be giving away to try out the plan:
Dead on Demand has 10 reviews in the US, and 17 in the UK so it should meet or exceed the requirements for most of the big freebie sites.

The technique for this promo is going to be as follows:
1.       Submit to sites that list free eBooks
2.       Events: Create Facebook and Goodreads events
3.       Facebook: Submit to Facebook pages, and post there on the day.
4.       Twitter: Tweet to book promo accounts, make use of hashtags, retweet groups and a variety of tweets.
5.       Ask for guest blogging spots
6.       Use friends and family to spread the word
This is a very basic structure. What we want is the information that Dead on Demand is free in as many places as possible, and for the places it does appear to be frequented by readers who own a Kindle (or don't mind converting from .mobi using calibre for their own device).
Before I start going through all the places we're going to promote, I think we need to set a goal to achieve. How many downloads is considered a success? I think the answer there has to be 5 figures otherwise we won't see a sales bump afterwards. We also need to hit the overall top 100.
GOAL: 10,000 downloads in 5 days
That's a mere 2000 a day. Doable, but enough to give a long term boost to the book in terms of algorithm ranking, also-bought listings and maybe a review or two. Logically we should expect the download speed to speed over as the promo goes on: Kindle free days are about exit velocity as ranking high when you finish keeps the book visible, and can help sell more books when you stop being free.
To get the ball rolling we need to use the technique outlined above, but once the ball has started rolling a lot of it comes down to two things: Word of mouth, and being on the top 100 download list. The latter is like having a billboard advertising your eBook. The Kindle is Amazon's most bought product, and the top 100 list is where most customers start when looking for a book. They know that anything there has been bought by thousands of other customers so has to be pretty good.
WHEN? September 4th to September 8th (inclusive).
What we hope to do is hit the top 100 sometime on day two or three, and stay there throughout the promotional period. Ideally, we'd love to hit #1 but doing that is as much down to what other books are free when a promotion is run as the marketing behind the free run.
PART 1: Submit to as many (relevant) free sites as possible.
On the day:
Getting listed on free sites comes down to planning, hard work and more than a little bit of luck. We can divide these sites up into two camps:
1. List on the day
2. Submit in advance
The former is really easy as we'll simply submit everything on the morning of September 4th, and hope we get picked up something during the promotional period.
On the day websites (alphabetical order)
These are relatively simple. Addicted to eBooks and Snickslist are simple submission forms so self explanatory. HotUKDeals is the biggest consumer website in the UK, and they have a very busy 'freebie' forum. The kicker here is self promotion isn't allowed so you've got to hope someone else sticks your eBook up. Fingers crossed someone will submit Dead on Demand if they consider it a decent freebie.
Kindleboards doesn't need any real explanation. There are a number of opportunities on this wonderful forum. The most obvious is to create (or bump) a thread in the Book Bazaar advertising your freebie. You could also try asking other authors for help in the Writers Cafe but there is a fine line between reaching out for help and spamming.
Kindle Users Forum is a UK based reader forum for eBooks, and it's a really great community. You want to select the sub forum appropriate to your genre and post about your freebie.
Submit in advance
This list is going to be much longer, but we're going to split it up a little bit by listing those who let you advertise for free first, and then those who charge. If there are free and paid options then we'll put that under the free list.
Flurries of Words ($2/ day for specific dates, $1 for permanently free)
GoodKindles (asks for an unspecified donation) ($20/ day)
TheKindleDailyDeal (Must buy her $3 eBook)
We've done all the free sites, and Flurries of Words plus KindleNationDaily out of the paid. We didn't like the idea of buying another authors book as payment for advertising, and we didn't want to go with all of them simply because of the cost.
These should all be self explanatory. For the world lit cafe you want to add your eBook to the appropriate forum thread - and abide by the rules on tweeting for them in exchange for the promotion.
PART 2: Events
We're going with 2 event listings. One is on Goodreads, and the other on facebook.
On facebook all you have to do is click create event, and follows the instructions. You can do this via your fan page or a personal page. We've set ours up via to try and get some of those who 'like' us to share the event.
You can join us on facebook here (feel free to invite/like/share!)
On Goodreads simply click 'Events' from the drop down then 'Add an Event' (or click here).
Once you've done that fill in the blanks, and start inviting your friends.
Our Goodreads event can be found here.
PART 3: Facebook pages
Facebook pages are rife with readers, and we can't neglect to hit as many as we possibly can.
We're also going to hit up Writers groups to ask our fellow authors for their support.
Writers groups:
Readers Groups:
Most of these are going to be 'on the day' promotional work, but a few (e.g. KindleMojo) require notice.
PART 4: Twitter Promotion
We're going to promote on twitter in three ways:
1. Direct promotion - tweeting regularly during the promo.
2. Retweet exchanges
3. Tweeting free book listing accounts
Direct promotion is simple; we'll mix up tweeting random stuff, promotional tweets and retweeting others. We don't want to spam, but once every half hour should be enough to hit all the timezones. If we start getting unfollows, we cut back. If it feels too much, we cut back. Of course we'll thank all RTers as we go.
ReTweet exchanges are simple: we tweet for others, they tweet for us. We'll be using two groups to do this: World Literary Cafe and the Goodreads RT group.
The final part is talking to those who share free eBooks. Here's out hitlist so far (again, alphabetical):
PART 5: Guest blogging
One of the best ways to reach readers is to be on blogs they visit. That means other authors, and book reviewers. If we can we want to be on as many of these as possible: Interviews, print giveaways, random stuff. It's all good. Again, this should be oblique - not directly promotional.
PART 6: Friends and Family
Our final piece of the jigsaw: using friends, family and acquaintances to help get the ball rolling. This will involve getting them to share the events, RT us and generally to pass on word about the freebie. This has to be done lightly, but a little extra momentum early on can mean top 100 which means it should be a success.
PART 7: Track your success

When you run an advertising campaign you need to know if it worked. Sometimes this is obvious as your sales will shoot up. The complication is when the effect is slight or can't be easily attributed.
If you have a google account and go to you can turn long links ( into short ones which look like this: letters.
You don't need a google account to create the short URL but if you do then Google adds the to your account history. This lets you track who clicked it, what the referring URL was, where the visitor is located and what browser they use. This can help nail down your demographics. If you are running multiple advertising campaigns at once then use a different URL for each to see which URLs are driving visitors to your sales page or website (NB quite a few of these sites ask for direct links only, which is fair enough but it does help track the success of tweets, facebook posts etc very effectively).

That's it. The whole plan, laid bare. Please feel free to chip in with what you think works, what doesn't etc.  Any part of this post can be shared, copied or otherwise distributed in any non-commercial way. Linkbacks are appreciated but not required.
Any help with promotion is gratefully received, but we're also here to help you so please comment if you've got a freebie we can assist with.
Here's to a successful promo run!
Sean and Dan


  1. wow. You guys are the most dedicated, hard working people we've ever met! The research you do is incredible. We didn't even know these places existed! We'll definitely be interested to know in how this all goes as we've only sold 3 books this month and considering Disenchanted was only released last month, it's beyond dire. Keep us posted!

    1. Thanks girls, we try :)
      Sorry to hear Disenchanted isn't getting the reception it should be. Might be worth joining the #SampleSunday thread over on Kindleboards. With one whole story in the same, it's more than enough to hook the readers you deserve.

  2. This is the news I've been waiting for! Can't wait to see how you guys get on. I sincerely hope I'm considered somewhere in "friends and acquaintances".


    1. Of course :)
      Many thanks for the offer of a guest interview - We'd be delighted to.