Free Love


It is day one of my five day giveaway of Love, Death and Tea. I thought I would document it here in case it is of use to anyone else trying to sell their books. And I am asking, ever so politely, if you would like a free copy.

First, some introductions. “Love, Death and Tea” has been bumping along merrily at the bottom of the ebook food chain. It has been getting good reviews:

Goodreads – 19 ratings at an average of 4.26 – 7 reviews at an average of 4.3 – 12 reviews at an average of 4.5

It flatters my poor battered ego (what there is left of it) that reviewers have been saying some very kind things:

“unexpected and awesome”

“a delight to read”

“this novel deserves a massive following”

“Brilliantly funny, eccentric, weird.”

And yet the number of books sold is very low. In an average month I will shift as many books as … oh, let’s say the number of diesel cars that Volkswagen sells these days. A handful. Ones and twos.

Back in September 2014, I tried a five day giveaway. I marketed it only through this blog and forums – mainly Goodreads, Absolute Write and a chess website that I frequent called I know, I know, the chess forum seems like a long shot, but I am well known there. I did manage a few sales from fellow chess players.

And the September 2014 giveaway netted me all of … drum roll please … 279 “sales”.

I did the same with my next book “Global Domination for Beginners”. That book’s five day giveaway in June of this year managed a slightly lower figure of 247 downloads.

My friends, welcome to the real world of e-publishing. These are books with good reviews. Books that people enjoy reading. And I can barely give them away. It is very hard to get noticed in a market with 700,000 new books being published every year.

But then a funny thing happened. I noticed that “Global Domination for Beginners” was selling a lot of books in Germany. My giveaways through accounted for 105 of the 247 books I gave away. And that was decidedly weird. I don’t know many people in Germany.

Please, please, no comments about Germans wanting books on global domination. That’s a naughty thought. We promised we wouldn’t mention the war.

So I did a little bit of google sleuthing. And I found that “Global Domination for Beginners” had been marketed by a website specialising in selling English books to Germans. This one:

They had decided to feature my book without me asking for it. It hadn’t cost me a bean. And it had accounted for more than 40% of my giveaways.

That got me thinking. I have heard horror stories about authors wasting money on facebook and twitter campaigns, but here was definite proof that publicity websites do work.

So for this five day giveaway, I am doing things a little differently. I will still market the giveaway through the forums and my blog. But I am also spending real money on a small number of marketing sites. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. I may be throwing money away or it may be a roaring success. We will find out in the next few days.

After doing a bit of research, I ended up with five marketing websites. It would have been seven, but a couple turned me down because they had no space on the five days that I wanted.

The most expensive is freebooksy at $100. They have a fairly large mailing list including 80,000 readers of fantasy and 52,000 readers of science fiction.

The next most expensive is ebookbooster at $35. I was in two minds about this one. Their pitch is that they will forward your book’s details to 45 free book marketing sites. In theory, you could approach those sites yourself without cost. This means that with ebookbooster you are paying to avoid all that extra work. If I was in penny-pinching mode I would say no at this point, but I had heard good things about ebookbooster and I have a busy day job. So I added them to the list.

Book barbarian cost me another $8. They have a smaller list (8,000 readers) but they specialise in fantasy and scifi and again I had seen authors recommending them.

BKnights cost another $21 through fiverr. Again, a smaller list than freebooksy, but I went with other author recommendations.

And for nostalgia I simply had to spend 7 euros on the German website.

The two I wanted but was too late for were Fussy Librarian and E-Reader News today. The lesson here is to apply sooner for the more popular websites.

Of course, the granddaddy of book marketing websites is Bookbub. They have the biggest lists but also the biggest price tag. Hundreds of dollars. I decided to leave them for another time.

Right now it is 10.00 on the morning of Thursday 8 October. My giveaway has just gone live. I haven’t yet posted this blog or mentioned the giveaways on the forums.

Naturally, having enticed you to read this far, I have to do that sales thing …


Love Death and Tea is currently free on and

Downloads so far – 5.

Update, as at 1.45 on Thursday – 49.

Update 2, at 3.45 on Thursday. I’m not quite sure how to say this. My wife and I had to drive into town to go to the bank. When we left the house at 2.00, the total number of downloads was 66. And that gave me the impression of a gradual dribble up to, say, 100 by the end of the day.

Not quite. When we came back around 3.00, we had jumped to 205. Then 250. 300. Right now, at 3.45 the total number of downloads to date is 372. Quite some way higher than I was expecting.

I think America is waking up. Dang, but this is exciting.

Update 3, at 5:10. 640 downloads.

Update 4, at 6.30 – 1,027.


6 thoughts on “Free Love

  1. Rebecca Douglass

    I think your point about America waking up is a good one. After all, we out here on the Left Coast are what, 8 hours behind you? Or is it 9? Never can remember.


    • It’s 8, I think. At times, it makes the numbers do odd things, as we are in two days at once in different parts of the world. Right now, I am seeing downloads on both the 12th October and the 13th as the five day period hasn’t quite ended, at least somewhere in the world.


  2. I came to your blog after reading a comment on a Goodreads thread.

    I’m curious after your referenced thousand downloads that you gave way, did you see a spike in reviews over the next 90 days or did your other books start to sell? Could you tell the effects of the giveaway in a positive or negative quantifiable manner?

    Thanks for sharing your information!


    • I saw a small spike in my other books, but nothing huge. There seems to be a diminishing return thing going on. I gave away thousands of free copies. Of the people who downloaded the book, the majority probably didn’t read it. Of those that read it, only a proportion left a review. Of those that left a review, only a proportion went on to buy one of my other books.

      But at the time I didn’t have a sequel for readers to move to. So if they liked book one, all I had to offer them was a different book by the same author. So I’ve been busy over the past few months writing a sequel to Love, Death and Tea. Same world, same characters, new story. Then I’ll run another giveaway for the first book, hoping to entice people onto book two.

      It doesn’t guarantee fame and fortune, but I guess that every little helps.

      Liked by 1 person

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