Free love on a Sunday morning

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It is the end of day 3 of the five day giveaway for Love, Death and Tea. We are still getting downloads, but the number per day is falling:

Thursday 8 October – 2.664

Friday 9 October – 663

Saturday 10 October – 212

It is time to start drawing some initial conclusions.

First, and a bit bleeding obvious, it is clear that paid advertising does work. The last five day free period for this book netted only 279 downloads. This time, we are already over 3,500 and seem to be heading for a five day total just shy of 4,000.

True, I now have a better cover than I did last time. The book also has more reviews. But there is no denying the huge impact from the marketing.

The next obvious conclusion is that the effect of paid marketing does not last. Most of the paid advertisers offer two things – they will send details of your book to their subscribers in an email newsletter and they will advertise it on their website.

My guess is that the email newsletter is more effective than the websites. The book is still on at least two of the websites (freebooksy and .xtme), but its sales have fallen a long way. Presumably this is because a website is passive advertising – readers have to go looking for it. By contrast the email newsletters are active advertising.

My early spike suggests that subscribers who receive that email will generally react to it when they receive it. They will either download your book or they won’t. They usually will not wait a couple of days to make their mind up.

I have seen some authors stagger their paid publicity, so that some hits on day one, some on day two, and so on. At first I wasn’t convinced by this approach. I wanted all of my paid advertising to happen on day one so I got the full five days effect. Now, I am not so sure. Maybe there is something in this idea of staggering publicity after all.

I can’t yet tell how effective each marketing company has been. I can spot the sales in Germany, so I know that the Englishbooks.xtme website has brought in 88 downloads so far. That is not a bad return from my 7 Euro investment.

Most of my sales so far have come from the US. Unfortunately, I can’t tell how many downloads I have received from each of the US based marketing companies. It would be great if I could say that company X was better than company Y or that free sites were better/ the same/ worse than paid sites. But I can’t. Sorry.

What I can say is that all of the companies have done more or less what they said they would do, with a few caveats. Here are my impressions of the companies I used:

Freebooksy – the biggest and the most expensive ($100), although still smaller than bookbub (which I didn’t use). My book appeared on their website and it’s still there on day four. But you have to wade through an increasing number of books to find mine. I am not sure how many potential readers would get that far down the list. They have a large number of subscribers (79k in fantasy).

Englishbooks.xtme – relatively cheap at 7 euros, but they don’t say how many subscribers they have. The good news is that books stay on their website for as long as they are free and there are not too many books on the list. My book is currently third on their list.

Bookbarbarian – also relatively cheap at $8. They have a subscriber list of just under 20,000 scifi and fantasy readers. The downside is that they only feature books on their website for a single day and not the full five days of the select promotion. The good news is that because they only feature a small number of books per day, your book is more likely to get noticed.

BKnights – I am really not sure about this one. Their fiverr gig pitch says this:

I will promote and Market Your Self Published Kindle Book To 4800+ Active Kindle Readers On My Facebook Page During Your Promo Or Marketing Period for $5

I am a Kindle author and consultant with over 2 years of promoting my own works and the works of others. For $5 I will work with my team to market your ebook on our Facebook page that has over 4800+ active readers. This list was hand built over 2+ years with links through my own works. If you want to achieve a high ranking within Amazon’s algorithm- you need high number of downloads in a short amount of time. Our Facebook page can provide you with just that. We will provide you with screenshots of your rankings before and after your work is promoted- So you can see just how powerful this tool is. This is for both free and paid works and we recommend that you order this gig 48 hours before your advertisement period. If you have any questions feel free to message us! We have marketed many books into the top 100 and we look forward to promoting your next best seller!

$5 may sound cheap, but if you click on the options for appearing on their website ($5) and a viral facebook post ($5) and express next day delivery ($5), you are looking at $21 (when fiverr have added a $1 management charge).

What they don’t say is that your book is only featured on their website for a day and not the whole of the promotion period. I haven’t yet been sent the promised screenshot of the book’s rankings. I didn’t see any sign of the supposedly “viral” facebook post.

To be fair, BKnights have offered me a refund and they have communicated well when I queried this. I haven’t taken the refund on principle because I can see that they have done something for the money I’ve paid. But this is by far the least impressive of the companies I used. Your initial $5 buys you nothing more than a one day appearance on a facebook page. To get a facebook post to all 4,800 subscribers you need to increase it to $10. That starts to make it look poor value compared with bookbarbarian ($8 to reach 20,000), especially as the 4,800 subscribers for BKnights will be across all genres.

Ebookbooster: this one is a little unusual because they send your book details to 45 free book promotion sites who may or may not feature your book. I do know that they did what they said as several of the free sites advertised my book. Beyond that, it’s hard to say how effective ebookbooster have been. They did what they said.

One interesting side effect of ebookbooster is that one of the free companies sent me an email pitching for paid publicity. This is the email:

Hello Author,

Thank you for submitting your book for our inspection. Our team has taken the time to review your work and below are our comments:

Cover: Good Cover.

Amazon Look Inside: Good.

Book Description: Good.  Tags and keywords should be added.

Keywords: Unsure what keywords were used as we searched for eight major keywords online and the book was not included in any of them.

Due to your writing skills, TheReadingSofa would like to offer you our special advanced services:

Option #1 ~ Book Blast, Reviews, & Social Posts:

After sending your book (e-book format) to our bloggers, they read and write a review on it. It takes from one week to a month to receive responses. Minimum reviews are 100 words each and are based on the readers’ honest opinions.

Reviews are posted on Amazon and the bloggers’ social pages.

Cost:

2 Verified reviews – $19

4 Verified reviews – $29

6 Verified reviews – $49

8 Verified reviews – $69

10 Verified reviews – $89

12 Verified reviews – $109

25 Verified reviews – $199

* All reviews are qualified the new Amazon TOS

Option #2 ~ The Riddle Day:

We send a mass email to our subscribers asking them a question regarding your book. They download your book from Amazon at no charge (your book must be listed as FREE). Our subscribers reply via email to the question and one winner that we choose randomly wins a prize.

A question might be: “What is the first sentence in Chapter X.”

* TheReadingSofa handles all prizes offered.

Only one book per day is presented on this program.
Grab your Riddle Date today!

Cost: $29.

Option #3 One-Day Book Blast on Your AMAZON FREE Days.

Are you planning a FREE days promotion on Amazon?

Give us a try as we can broadcast the blast for you.

Cost $149.

There’s more (quite a bit more), but hopefully you get the picture. I don’t mind the promotional stuff – these companies have got to make a profit. But I don’t care for the idea of being able to buy reviews, even if they are supposedly “honest” reviews. Thanks, but no thanks.

More updates to follow. The interesting thing will be to see if the downloads result in more reviews, sales of my other books, or paid sales of Love, Death and Tea after the promotion.

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