I am constantly asked by other authors about some of my secrets for reaching the top best selling Sci-Fi/Fantasy spots on Amazon. The question makes me laugh because, really, there are no secrets to this stuff at all. It’s all a matter of hard work — hard work writing the sorts of stories that readers enjoy, and hard work in promoting that work. With literally millions of books available for purchase on the Kindle (and other e-readers), an author has to do his best to set himself apart from the crowd in a reader’s eyes.
Of course, while there are no “secrets” to achieving that goal, there are a few tools an author (or publisher) can use to help aid them in reaching it. One of the absolute best arrows in an author’s marketing quiver is the free giveaway. Yes, giving something away free to generate sales may seem a bit counter-intuitive to the uninitiated. I can hear the voices of some of my author/publisher friends: “Free?! Are you insane? There’s no way I’m giving all my hard work away for free.”
And that is fine. Don’t do it. Keep your head in the sand, keep trying them same old thing and expecting a different outcome.
My own experience with the limited-time free promotions on Kindle Select have been amazing. The last one I ran was about a year ago — November 2013 — and it was for my first novel, THE CESTUS CONCERN. The book had been out for about a year and sales had slowed. With the release of my second novel, THE CESTUS CONTRACT, I wanted to do something to punch up the sales of both both books and a free giveaway was the answer. The results were staggering.
THE CESTUS CONCERN, over the course of the 3-day giveaway, jumped up to the #1 best selling spot for free books on the Kindle. Once the promo was over, remarkably, the book continued to sell — and those sales powered sales of the sequel! Over the following month, THE CESTUS CONCERN reached #1 on the SciFi/Fantasy best sellers list for Kindle and #9 on the Kindle overall! Better still, THE CESTUS CONTRACT hit high on the top 20 best sellers list for SciFi/Fantasy in its first month of release!!
When all was said and done, I gave away approximately 18,000 copies of THE CESTUS CONCERN for free and sold another almost 20,000 units of it at $3.99! Sales for THE CESTUS CONTRACT were almost as good, with about 15,000 sales that month. It was amazing.
I know what you’re thinking now: that’s great, Mat, but how the heck does it help me? I don’t know how to do any of that.
Well, I’m going to do something most authors online won’t do: I’m going to give you the list I’ve compiled to use whenever I do a free promotion. That’s right, I’m going to tell you EXACTLY what I do rather than the normal method of alluding to things without ever going into specifics (most how-to posts for authors suck balls).
Here we go!
Free Listing Sites: There are a lot more of these out there, but this is a good solid list of my “must-hit” sites for telling about my upcoming promotion. Some must be informed a month in advance, others two-weeks, and some the day of. Some are free and some cost money. Each one has its own submissions requirement pages, so check them out before your submit.
http://www.bookbub.com (probably the most powerful site for freebie/sale promotion out there, but it costs. Prices go as high as $200, depending on your genre)
http://freediscountedbooks.com/ (within a month free, rush $5)
http://digitalbooktoday.com/12-top-100-submit-your-free-book-to-be-included-on-this-list/ (18+ reviews) – 48 hours advance of promo
https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books-2/ (2 week+ notice)
http://hotzippy.net/feature-your-book.html ($15) / http://support.hotzippy.net/?page_id=585 (free)
http://kindlebookpromos.luckycinda.com/?page_id=283 (30 days notice? $5 for 48 hour notice & featured placement)
http://addictedtoebooks.com/content/todays-free-kindle-books (DAY of free promo)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/freetoday (DAY of free promo)
http://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/(free or $10 guaranteed)
http://www.ebookhounds.com/pricing/ (free right now)
http://sweetfreebooks.com/advertise/ ($5) (5 reviews or list as new author)
http://www.ebooksoda.com/authors/genres/ (8 reviews or more – $10)
http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/for-authors/ ($14 – 10+ reviews)
http://www.justkindlebooks.com/submit-your-book/ ($3 04 $18)
http://bookangel.co.uk/submit-your-book/ (FOR UK)
Post about book: There are tons and tons of sites where you can post information about your book or yourself (in the form of an author profile or interview). But these are my favorites right now.
http://bookgoodies.com/contact-us/authors-tell-us-about-your-book/ (4-7 days to get listed)
https://storyfinds.com/promotions-for-authors / https://storyfinds.com/node/add/author
TWITTER Hashtags & people to mention to get retweets: On the day(s) of your promotion, it becomes time to hit your social networks to promote. One of the things I DON’T do is promote the free giveaway to my own networks. Those people have already been informed of the book and its availability and I don’t want to cannibalize those sales. The idea behind the giveaway is to EXPAND your audience, not take away from it. Message to these people or using these hashtags to help pump up your exposure.
And there you have it: my checklist for my free promo days. There may be additional things I do (find interview sites, get reviews, and so on), but this is the majority of it.
If you have any questions or comments, or want to tell me what you do during your promotions, leave a comment down below.
Now, while I’ve got your attention, I want to tell you about my new book: Check out my latest novel, the WW2 action-adventure fantasy novel, MAN WITH THE IRON HEART.
Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew's mission to kill the Butcher of Prague in the heart of Nazi-ruled Prague teams him up with a pale-skinned titan, Donner Grimm, against the legendary forces seeking to unleash Ragnarok and the end of the world.More info →
MAN WITH THE IRON HEART: In May of 1942, Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew, parachutes into the heart of Nazi-occupied Prague on a mission whose success could alter the course of World War 2 itself. MacAndrew and his men are set to kill Reinhart Heydrich, the man best known as “The Butcher of Prague.” When things go from bad to worse, the veteran soldier finds himself thrust into a battle of myth and legend itself. With the marble-skinned warrior, Donner Grimm at his side, MacAndrew must face off against necromancers, Nazi berserkers, and the power of the demons known as the Jotnar, all vying to bring about Ragnarok and the end of humanity.
Nazis, Norse Gods, and Lovecraftian monsters: what more could you ask for in an action & adventure novel set in the midst of World War 2? “Man With the Iron Heart” is perfect for fans of Hellboy, Indiana Jones, Supernatural, Wolfenstein, Lovecraft, or Inglourious Basterds.
Check out what critics are calling “a thrilling alternate history action & adventure,” “occult suspense done right,” and “the sort of men’s adventure story that keeps readers on their toes from page 1.”
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius