Working for Free Still Pays

This post appears today at Crime Fiction Collective

I have mixed feelings about making my book free. It’s the only one I’ve published so far (#2 is in the editing stages), so the wonderful bump in sales many other writers experience for their other books is for me a moot point. On the other hand ‘free’ gives me a wonderful opportunity to expose my work to a wider audience and add to my reader base. I love that.

When an opportunity came up for me to be a guest on a live radio show I decided to capitalize on that event and make Red Tide free. So for three days, Sunday through Tuesday of this week, my one and only book was available to whoever wanted it.

Turns out, almost 35,000 people decided to give it a try. For the first time since the book was published in late March, I reached readers in not only the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, but also readers in France, Spain and Italy. The after-effect of sales is gratifying (though I still don’t understand why that happens) and I’ve lent more books from Amazon’s lending library than ever before.

But I didn’t just schedule it to be free and wait for readers to find me. I asked for a lot of help to get the word out. I tweeted (and tweeted), utilized Facebook until I was sick of seeing my own cover, and thankfully had prepared—in advance—for some backup.

About two weeks before I went ‘free’ I sent my information to the following websites (there is no guarantee that any of these sites will feature your book):

  • Pixel of Ink has thousands of subscribers. I do know that my book was chosen by them for the first day, and I credit this site for a lot of my downloads;
  • Free eBooks Daily has a bit of quid-pro-quo and listed my book at some point;
  • Free Booksy listed not only me, but the joint promotion I had with my sister;
  • eReader News Today also carried my book, and they have a lot of influence with readers;
  • Bargain Book Hunter is a site I purchased (at least 48 hours in advance) a guaranteed placement for $5.
There are countless other sites, including at least four more who I submitted to but I don’t think selected my book.
My point is, simply going free and sitting back to wait for fabulous results probably isn’t going to work unless your name is Stephen King or Michael Connelly. When you’re ready to push for some positive results by offering your book free for a few days, you need to have an army behind you. Plan ahead.CFC readers, how do you find your free books—the ones you really are interested in?CFC writers, if you offer your books for free, what are some of the things you’ve learned along the way?My very special thanks to Karin Cox and Indie Review Tracker for providing me with a lot of ideas.


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