Awareness on the Cheap

EntropyTo catch up my new readers, I wrote a book in 58 days, then I crowdsourced the editing and decided to publish it myself. Since then I’ve been promoting it on Twitter, both on my own account and through a couple character accounts. I have spent a total of $45 out of pocket. $29 for stock photography for the cover, and $16 for the proof copy (including shipping). I made that money back in the first week, so everything since then has been profit. (Since I work for free, obviously. ūüėČ )

Not that I’m in this for the profit, because I’m absolutely not. However, I am ethically¬†opposed to writers operating at a financial loss, so I’m trying to find ways to build my audience without¬†buying my audience. My sales have hit a plateau. After selling a bunch in the first month, the sales for October and November were about the same. The conventional wisdom (which, I’m finding, is almost universally wrong in the publishing world) is that to get more readers after your first 8 weeks, you need to do a $0.99 sale.

If you want a lot of readers, you can just make the book free for a day or two, but unless you have a sequel ready for those people to buy when they finish, I cannot imagine why you would do that. Devaluing your work is no way to “build a brand.” It does exactly the opposite.

So I’m going to do a $0.99 sale, and I’ve been lining up newsletters to promote it. I started with this wonderful list that Ana Spoke put together. And then I found some other (less comprehensive) lists and together put together a completely free campaign. I have no idea whether any of these are any good, but since they are all free, it kind of doesn’t matter.

The sites I found fall into four buckets, only one of which I can use:

  • Will promote any $0.99 sale for free
  • Will only promote books with no sex in them
  • Will only promote¬†free giveaways for free
  • Will only do paid promotions

The sex thing surprised me. I can understand¬†not wanting to promote porn/erotica, but their conditions are much more prudish. Basically, if you use the word “cock” in your book, you cannot promote on these sites. This is absurd and ridiculous, but I’ve already written that rant, and anyway, it’s their newsletter¬†so they can do whatever the fuck they want.

If this works (Update: It doesn’t), I’ll get a bunch of new readers and although I’ll only be making about $0.70 per sale, that’s found money. I do not believe this is going to cannibalize full-price sales, because I think I’ve already hit all those sales I’m going to get through my Twitter marketing (Update: I was wrong about this). I’m working on the sequel, and I’d really like to convert these readers into sequel buyers. However, unlike my Twitter-based buyers, I’m not going to have any idea who these people are. So when I finish the sequel, how will I reach them?

My solution is as follows:¬†First, I set up a mailing list using MailChimp. That was super easy. Then I went to bit.ly and set up a short link to that mailing list that’s really easy to type (MailChimp generates short links that are impossible to type). And finally, I added a page to the end of the Kindle edition:

If you’ve read my book and you know how it ends, I’m sure you’ll agree that a lot of people are going to click that link. Time will tell.

So, here’s the list of sites I looked at and how they break down into those buckets I identified earlier. I’m not including links because most of the links I found were broken and I had to google the sites by name. That tells me they update their links fairly often. So just google the name of the site and it’ll be the top hit.

Sites that promote $0.99 sales for free:

  • Read Cheaply
  • Choosy Bookworm
  • Discount Book Man
  • One Hundred Free Books
  • Pretty Hot
  • Reading Deals
  • Kindle Book Promos
  • eBook Lister
  • People Reads
  • eBookasaurus
  • Bookzio
  • Awesome Gang
  • Armadillo eBooks
  • Great Books Great Deals
  • Book Deals Daily (I didn’t submit to this one, because they require you to promote them on your own Facebook page, which I cannot do)

Sites that will not promote anything remotely sexual:

  • eBooksHabit
  • Free99Books
  • ReadingDeals
  • Its Write Now
  • Feed Your Reader
  • Indie Book of the Day

Sites that only promote FREE giveaways, not $0.99:

  • Free Stuff Times
  • Frugal Freebies
  • Book Deal Hunter
  • Free Books
  • Book Circle
  • eFreeBooks
  • Freebies 4 Mom

Sites that charge for all $0.99 promotions:

  • eReader Cafe $25 – $35
  • Ignite Your Book $20
  • eReader Girl $20
  • Free Book Dude $30

(Some in that last group will also promote FREE giveaways at no cost.)

That’s all I could find. On the day my promo happens, it should be listed in about 14 different places. It’ll be impossible to know which ones actually translate to sales, but who cares? They are all free! In addition, I’ll tweet about it and do a blog post, and all that. The goals here are to make up for the the low price with volume, and to build a bigger fan base for the sequel. Both easily measurable, so I’ll measure the hell out of them and let you all know how it goes.

When is the sale? I’m not telling! If you want to know, sign up on the mailing list.

Update 1: I ran the sale!

Update 2: Don’t bother with the free listings; they are a scam.

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