Friday, February 22, 2013

An Experiment in Free Promotions

I've been wondering how effective advertising is for free promotions on Amazon. There are numerous sites to which you can apply for posting your free book. Some of these sites offer free advertising, others say they may or may not give you exposure but if you pay them some money they will guarantee it. They're only asking for five dollars but if you do that a few times it adds up. Do people really pay for advertising for a free book? Reminds me of the gold rush days when the only person making any money was the guy selling pickaxes and shovels.

I tried an experiment with free promotional advertising last month. I put out Tapestries of Betrayal, a new title, for free for five days and promoted it everywhere I could for free. I had five free days on Tales of Woe and Wonder, an older title, that were going to expire, so I put that book up for free for the same time period but didn't do any advertising. Tapestries is a single story; Tales is a collection, but both fall in the fantasy genre.

I expected the promoted title to do much better considering the hours I spent filling out submission forms. Ultimately, the promoted title out performed the non-promoted title but not by that much. Tapestries accounted for 58.5% of my free downloads while Tales took 41.5%. Remember that I had already done a free promotion for Tales a few months earlier. So, advertising appears to help some but readers still found the non-promoted title.

Most of my downloads happen during the weekdays and fall off during the weekends. As I watched the download counts I noticed a bizarre but very telling pattern if my hypothesis is correct. Tapestries initially led the race and surged ahead, but when the weekend arrived, the counts for Tales surged and passed Tapestries. The early part of the new week saw Tapestries move ahead of Tales. So what happened during the weekend when Tales started doing so much better relative to Tapestries? I place advertisements in the back of my books for my other titles. I'm speculating that some people read Tapestries, liked it, and clicked on the link for Tales. When they saw that one was free, they downloaded it, too. If I'm right, it appears those in book promotions of your other titles are one of your most valuable selling tools.


  1. Hi Jeff. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. It's difficult to know what types of promotions work and don't work.


  2. You are probably right, and also there is the weekend factor. Different people on the Web.

  3. I've never participated in giving books away for free, although I know Lea has on occasion put some of the Muse Authors books up for free on Amazon for a limited amount of time. I'm not sure how that translated in increased sales for the authors though. Interesting stats.


  4. Interesting and informative post! I've always wondered about that too. Good way to put it to the test!

  5. An interesting topic. There are many sites where we can promote for free but the members at many of them are mostly authors. We need to promote to readers.

  6. Interesting post, Jeff. This is something I'm grappling with, too, and attempting to approach with some sort of a scientific method. I wonder how a combination of in-book ads and promo web sites would do, for instance?