My memoir, Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic? is FREE to download as ebook/kindle until 8 November 2023.
I've given away over 600 copies of three books with spending just US$10 per book total, separate campaigns. I'm currently doing a promotion and my book is am number one in three categories simultaneously for free ebooks. They are fairly small categories and rankings will drop after the promotion but hey.
Promotions can be tiring
I'm just gonna say it. The part I hate most about indie publishing is the promotion. It's extra challenging on a low income plus I hate trying to sell stuff (creating is my passion, not promotion). Promotion is much harder for indie authors, especially if they are unknown.
But someone has to do it if the books you worked hard on is to see the light of day. If you're on a low income like me, then I am needing to do low cost ways (lots of research and trying what I think suits my budget best).
After all the hard work of writing, editing, cover design etc, promotion is not my thing. I've had a combination of anxiety, low mood and exhaustion. It can feel so discouraging with a rollercoaster of highs and lows.
best sellers ranking
Amazon has two lists - paid and free for their bestsellers ranking. (Even though technically not 'selling' the books, as giving them away). A #1 ranking gets some attention, so make sure you take a screenshot of it. Amazon updates their lists hourly, and so far it has lasted all day.
Note that this ranking is for the ebook/kindle on Amazon (US) only as that's the only link I have promoted, as I am on a small budget. The ebook on other marketplaces will be buried under loads of other books. Although I have had orders from UK, Canada, Germany and Australia for this promotion.
The Amazon (US) ranking for an entire day:
I didn't bother checking the Amazon UK ranking at the peak but this screenshot when the campaign was slowing down goes to show that the Amazon UK rankings are affected too. What is annoying is that people found it hard to search the book in Amazon marketplaces, so I provided some direct links on my website to help out.
Also note that the categories for UK are different from the US. Which are chosen by Amazon based on my keywords and description etc.
It's up to you to research with all the conflicting advice to decide on your marketing strategy. I chose to promote the US link as the majority of my social media views from my vlog related to the book content is from the United States.
I have limited resources, including a low income, so I only focus on linking the Amazon US ebook. This is over the print version of the book. The are linked on the Amazon page so the customer has the option.
Also, Amazon (US) is a bigger market than Amazon (UK). Some might take a different approach and hardcore market in the UK, as it's a smaller market and therefore possibly able to rank higher.
During the giveaways for all the books I promoted, I went to number 1 or 2 in categories. One of the categories for one book was large (semiautobiographical fiction).
Why do a giveaway?
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which is a platform that allows independent (indie) authors to self-publish for no upfront costs. The books are uploaded to KDP (meeting their specifications) which then are available for sale on Amazon.
If one elects to be in the KDP Select program, which means the ebook is exclusive to KDP for a 90-day period at a time. This means higher royalties and a few promotional options. Then, a promotion of either a free giveaway or a reduced price for 5 days in that period can be done. The 5 days can be all at once or split up.
I've just done 5 days at once and chosen the free giveaway option. Why this option?
Well, just electing to do promotional days (free or reduced price) is likely to do nothing, unless you have a way to tell others about it. Make sure you list the end date whenever say your ebook is for free, in case you don't manage to delete any promotions quickly enough afterwards.
Websites that list ebooks for a day (sometimes longer) will generally priotise free ebooks because their subscribers love freebies.
I am a member of Independent Author Network (IAN), which is the most affordable and reasonable indie author membership group I could find. They list my books on my author page (which is another link to my Amazon) plus listed my books during promotions (no extra charge as a member).
I also notified friends and my reasonably modest social media followings about the giveaway. I went to number 1 in two smaller categories just by doing this. The significance of this is mainly the potential visibility in searches. Plus better rankings look better.
I also listed my books with eBookDaily. One submits the book in advance with a suggested fee. I paid US$10 each promotion for the book to be listed for one day only and emailed to 23,000 subscribers. This is where I got most of my orders for each book.
There are other sites that do similar but they are more expensive (some have larger subscription numbers though). I saw someone who spent over $500 on several sites, got 8,000 orders and were disappointed they 'only' got around 100 reviews and then their orders (not 'sales') went down.
I don't know what percentage of people who download the freebies actually get around to reading them. Then only a smaller fraction leave a review.
It's proportional. If I had spent that much on promotional sites to list the books to subscribers, then of course the numbers would be proportionally higher. But I don't see much sense in spending that much, even if I had that much discretionary money to spend. Perhaps that kind of money would be better invested in advertising?
Note that the giveaway sites only want 'fresh' books so might only allow it to be listed for 1 day in a 2 year period. I will only list once as a free promotion as I want to open up to other distributors ('go wide' is the term I've heard).
The main reasons I think to do a giveaway is to try get some exposure for the book. And perhaps some who got a free copy with leave reviews. Ebooks are easier to give away as they have no printing costs. Perhaps someone who reads the ebook will like it and buy the print version?
Genuine reviews are hard to come by because a lot of people can't be bothered. Or if they were bothered, there is a minimum purchase threshold annually before a review or rating can be left.
I will be listing the ebook with Draft2Digital in December when the 90 days with KDP Select ends. The book will be listed through them to several major ebook distributors such as Apple Books. From memory, I think one has to opt out of the Kindle Select program to list the book elsewhere. I still have sold more books with Amazon by far than any other platform.
When I did some keywork searches such as 'bipolar' combined with 'free kindle' or 'free books', my book showed up on page 1 or 2 of search results. That's of course only if someone searches similar.
I've also been doing a few other strategies to help get my book noticed. I won't detail what they are in this blog post as I will see how things go first. Links from blogs, social media etc all help though.
I considered recording a video update for my old vlog but I was too exhausted. I edited a few short clips from relevant video footage I had instead. Sometimes, just need to get creative, although using social media for promotions is very time consuming with little reach in most cases.
I will write more detail of what I have tried in a guide for indie authors (mainly focussed on some tips for writing and self-publishing on a shoestring budget).
I currently write about relationships with disabilities (bipolar disorder, PTSD, autism spectrum). My recently released memoir is Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic?
My semiautobiographical novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice was published before most of the events in the memoir. My next major book project is the sequel, Soar Purpose.
A project in between is to write a guide about writing and self-publishing your story (from what I've learned from doing this process).
Ebook and print links to my books with blurbs. Note that a kindle isn't required to read a kindle ebook from Amazon (can use their free kindle cloud app with any device).
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.