I recently self-published my debut novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice, about a character with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) navigating love and loss. I am currently running a free promotion of the e-book on Amazon. Today, it is currently #2 in biographical fiction and #19-20 in romantic erotica categories, listed in both in Top 100 Free Best Sellers. If it ever made it to #1, I didn't check, as rankings are updated every hour.
So why give away a book for free? Simple, a promotion helps people to know about it. People who love a giveaway might try it and might leave a review. People don't know to buy the book if they don't know it exists. A free giveaway can temporary lift the ranking of a book so it has a greater chance of being noticed. The ranking has temporarily lifted by at least a hundred-fold.
I self-published with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and enrolled my book in the KDP direct program. While in the program, I must sell the e-book exclusively with Amazon for 90 days. For this exclusivity, I get a higher royalty. I also have Pet Purpose as a print-on-demand softcover, which was better quality than I expected. Some readers said they were delighted to essentially get a print of my artwork on the cover.
In each 90-day period, there is an option to either offer the book free for up to 5 days or as a discount.
I researched options and decided that the free option was likely best for a new book launch. Just listing it free is unlikely to do much. One needs to promote the heck out of it. I researched some options for e-book directly listings. Some are free, some are paid. Some are ridiculously expensive, and a no-go for me. Amazon is essentially a search engine, so incoming links help with rankings. So does fresh content, such as reviews.
I was only in time to list with eBookDaily (a small, reasonable fee) and Independent Author Network (I have a Bronze membership). I suspect the big spike in downloads was mainly from being featured on eBookDaily.
I am on a low income, so tried Facebook ads which are lower cost than some other forms of advertising. Several books had already been downloaded before the ad was activated. When I tried the Facebook ads before the promotion, there were lots of clicks, but no conversions. I am skeptical if Facebook ads are any good for e-books. Other bloggers and vloggers also reported lots of clicks but no conversions. I tested some ads before the promotion.
I am pretty sure that most of my sales so far have been via connections on social media. It's a niche book about bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, disabilities, trauma, mental health and pets. I blog, vlog and connect with others as both myself and as Bipolar Courage, mainly on Twitter and Facebook.
A few admins in some online bipolar support groups I participate in allow me to promote my book and vlog. If try not to be a nuisance about it, then they are usually pretty good about it as it is something that can be helpful for the others in the group, especially if it's on a free promotion, as many are on a low income.
I have been informed by readers that Pet Purpose has gone to at least 9 countries. It has been one of my dreams to be an internationally best selling author. More than 5 times as many e-books have been downloaded with the free promotion in the last few days than purchased in the first 6 weeks. I suspect many of these were via Amazon's promotions, as I woke up to several already downloaded before I really announced it.
I make no money on the free downloads. The giveaway is a marketing strategy to help get the book noticed. If I were to be paid for the books downloaded, a few dollars per book, I would have made more in a few days that I make in a month with my part-time minimum wage job. Extraordinary potential. Next steps are to keep writing and to try earn reasonable income from my efforts. So far, I have invested anything I have earned back into experimenting with marketing.
When I set up the book, I chose categories with less competition. I would have liked to have listed the book under 'bipolar' and 'PTSD', but Amazon only has these categories in non-fiction and won't allow cross-category. I chose categories in fiction that I thought fit best and had a higher ranking (less competition).
I am currently working on three books. The sequel, Soar Purpose. An erotic memoir about a mania episode, called Bipolar Cringe (to be published in the non-fiction section). Plus a book on how to write and self-publish your story without costing the Earth.
Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice is available on Amazon as an e-book and print-on-demand. From what I understand, the print-on-demand is available from Amazon US, Canada and UK.
The e-book is FREE until 27 May 2021 (Pacific Time). Mature themes. Reviews are appreciated. It currently has 5-star reviews from readers who share my diagnoses.
Update: Just before I headed to bed last night, I checked and saw Pet Purpose was #1 Best Seller in category. Wrote another blog post saying how I think I did this as an indie author.
I am no longer blogging or vlogging as a mental health and disability advocate. The politics of it is too toxic for me.