Should I use Amazon’s Free Book Promotion Tool?

Amazon is a major outlet for the self-published author and I have all of my erotic romance novels available for sale through them.  A good number of those books are also enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select Programme.

What is Amazon’s KDP Select Programme?

Enrolment into Amazon’s KDP Select Programme is optional and is done on a per e-book basis, meaning an author can have some, all or none of their catalogue included.  However, before you can enrol an e-book, it needs to be sold exclusively through Amazon’s Kindle Store.  Once a book is part of the programme, it becomes available via Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

The KDP Select Programme cycle is 90 days, meaning that once a book is part of the offering, it remains tied in, until the 90 day period comes to an end.  It is also worth noting that renewal is automatic, so an author needs to take specific action to remove any single title from the Programme.  From the ‘Your Books’ page, this is done by clicking the ‘KDP Select Information’ link against the book title in question and unchecking the tick box.

The benefits of the KDP Select Programme are 70% (as opposed to the standard 35%) royalty earnings of e-books sales to a significant number of countries.  The author is also (theoretically) given access to two promotional tools; Kindle Countdown Deal and Free Book Promotion.  Unfortunately, for authors of erotica, Amazon’s Kindle Countdown Deal book promotion is not made available.  We must therefore make maximum use of the Free Book Promotion.

What are the benefits of using Amazon’s Free Book Promotion tool?

Amazon’s Free Book Promotion tool allows an author the option to make the title free for download, for a maximum of five days, during each 90 day enrolment period.  Those five days can either be concurrent, or scattered throughout the three month period.

At first, it might seem counter-intuitive, to give away free copies of your e-book.  As an author of a single title, the benefits are perhaps more limited, but they are still arguably worthwhile. The free book promotion increases the chances of receiving reviews for the book in question.  If the reviews are good, this increases the likelihood of new readers considering your book in the future.

Furthermore, during the five day free promotion window, if the number of giveaways is high, this will increase the sales rank of the title, further increasing visibility.  Unfortunately, Amazon maintains two best sellers lists; Paid and Free.  Any traction up the sales rank made whilst the title is Free, has no benefit, once the e-book returns to the Paid category.

The real value of the free book promotion tool can be observed, once an author has multiple titles available.  Giving away free copies of a single title can then be used as a hook, to increase readership by picking up new readers who hadn’t previously been aware of your work.  This is particularly true if you giveaway the first book in a series.  Often, after a free book promotion period, sales of the back catalogue of an author’s books can increase substantially, as those new readers start to explore other titles available.

Marketing a title during a free book promotion period

For five days, during late November 2019, I made my short story, A Highland Fling, available as a free download.  However, an author can’t just sit back and expect the free downloads to start rolling in.  Advice suggests that marketing a free book promotion should commence 4-6 weeks prior to the event; advice I have to say I didn’t take on this occasion.

There are unlimited avenues, via which authors can pay to help promote the availability of their free book, during the five day window.  These include major players such as Bookbub, who apparently have in excess of ten million book fans on their email subscription lists.  Bookbub do pick and choose, however.  The key to being accepted, apparently, lies in having plenty of strong reader reviews.

However, as an author who has never paid for advertising to date, I tend to make use of the free options at my disposal.  These include posting to Facebook and Twitter, as well as advertising on free sites, on which I currently publish chapters of my work, such as BooksieSilk.

With regards to Facebook and Twitter posts, these clearly have to be targeted in a sensible way.  For Facebook, this means posting to groups which are likely to have specific interest in my titles, such as those focussed on romance and erotica ebooks, as well as wider groups interested in giveaways and freebies.  On Twitter, careful consideration should be given to the hashtags used.

I am certainly no marketing expert, but I did make a concerted effort on the second day of the five day giveaway I have recently run.  The results can be seen below:

Screen Shot 2019-12-05 at 04.06.42

As the graph shows, downloads of the free title increased more than ten-fold, on the day I maximised my marketing efforts.  On day two, the title shot to #3 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list for the category of Humorous Erotica and stayed high for the remainder of the giveaway period.  This, undoubtedly, accounted for a higher rate of downloads between days 3 and 5.

Once the title moved back into the Paid category, it obviously disappeared from Amazon’s Best Sellers list, but interest in my other titles increased, particularly via Kindle Unlimited.  However, the number of additional reviews I obtained as a result has so far been low.


Fenella Ashworth

Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction.  All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access.  Her bestselling novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
Please sign up to her newsletter for the latest news, and access to freebies, including a copy of the recently published ‘Bad girls go to Heaven’.

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