Free book promotion... is it worth it?

I recently had a 5-day giveaway for the first book in my trilogy, Exile. I have compiled some data below to share. 

First, a bit of background. I have a complete trilogy available for purchase, plus three short stories and a short story compilation. The sales figures include my entire backlog (all related to my trilogy).  

When the giveaway started, Exile had around 1,350 reviews. I think that helps when potential readers are deciding whether to download the book or  not. 

So, how did it go?

After my latest Bookbub rejection (last year I was lucky enough to have one accepted), I decided to use the following email marketing services:

*I had some coupons for discounts, which reduced the normal price. And costs do vary by genre.
**Also, Digital Books Today has a free option as well. Should always include that when running a  promotion.

The costs for each one is listed in the table below. My books fall into the historical fiction, modern thriller, or action/adventure categories. I spread it out across the marketing services to hit as broad an audience as possible. 

I also included the days I sent out my newsletter to my US and Non-US subscribers (about 5K total).

Throughout the week, I utilized Facebook, IG, Twitter posts. 

From the table, you can see the downloads by day and the cost per download. 

At first glance, Fussy Librarian looks like the clear winner. But, they may have benefited from being first out of the gate. My assumption is that most people that sign up for free and discounted eBooks do so with multiple services. Even if that is the case, Fussy Librarian was nearly 2x the next best option (ENT), so to me, they are the clear winner. 

I was not impressed with day two performance. One could argue that some of those downloads were probably from the Fussy Librarian email on Monday. Even with that boost, the BookAdrenaline / Genpulse / Digital Books Today lineup barely delivered half of what Fussy Librarian did. 

The Book Raids / Robin Reads combo had solid numbers but at a hefty price. I should note; Book Raids is a slightly different model than the others. They charge by click, not a set price (max is $60). My book received 594 clicks from their email (that they were able to track). I believe that accounted for many of the 845 downloads. 

So, I gave away almost 3,000 books. Did I get results?

The answer is, yeah, pretty much. 

The 14 days before the sale, I averaged $63 a day in sales on Amazon (eBooks, Kindle Unlimited, Paperback/Hardback). 

In the 21 days since the giveaway started, I am averaging $74 a day. If I maintain that pace for another week, I will break even, dollar-wise. 

But there are ancillary benefits as well. One, I have picked up 70-80 reviews for Exile since the start of the promotion. That is always welcome. Two, I have more readers. When I release a new book, I have a larger potential audience. Most of those that downloaded Exile will get a notice from Amazon when I release a new book. That is a good deal. Three, the results should last another few weeks. Some readers take weeks to get around to new books they have downloaded. That should result in sales for the rest of the series through March. 

The Verdict?

I am happy. All self-published authors know how hard it is to get a reader to download your book, let alone read it. Nearly 3,000 downloads was encouraging. 

But, it was not nearly as profitable as a Bookbub feature deal. Even stacking all those email list tools, I only reached 10% of the downloads with Bookbub. But, since Bookbub is super picky (especially for Amazon KU authors), I had limited options. 

For my next giveaway, I may switch the order a bit. But I will probably avoid some of the lower-performing sites and focus on Fussy Librarian, ENT, and Book Raids

I hope this helps in your book selling endeavors! Let me know what you think. 

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