Slashing your e-book price and making it free–either the “old fashioned” way (by reducing your price on Smashwords or other online retailers and alerting Amazon), or by running free promotions on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program—can be a great way to increase your book’s Amazon ranking, however temporarily. It will expose your work to a wider, although non-paying, audience in the aim that some of those free readers will be so impressed by your exemplary storytelling skills they’ll review your book and count themselves among your most rabid fans, snapping up all of your other work. If nothing else, your e-book should get increased visibility when it reaches the upper echelons of the Kindle Free charts.
So how do you ensure that you get maximum eyeballs on your book and hit the coveted 5000+ downloads a day to really give your rankings a shake-up?
First, a lesson from the Boy Scouts: be prepared.
Contact sites that will help you promote free ebooks
There are a host of websites, facebook pages and twitter hashtags that will help you spread the word about your free e-book, especially if you give them plenty of notice. And the good news is that many of them will do it for free. To help you keep track, register for Indie Review Tracker and use your personal online To-do List to remind yourself where you need to submit your free book listing, and when. You can also access loads more paid and free promotional sites to complement your “free ride,” and to aid you in following up with cheap and ongoing marketing efforts that will stop you from suffering that disastrous post-free rankings slump.
One month to two weeks before
Let Kindleboards know and sign up for Kindleboard’s free promotion Your book needs at least 100 pages, at least 3 reviews and at least 4.5 * star average.
Submit your title to Books on the Knob. This works best if your book is free for two consecutive days. A mention is not guaranteed.
If you want to splash out and get your writing before a lot of potential readers, Kindle Nation Daily charges $29.95 for a Free Book Highlighter Service.
Contact Book Goodies and list your book.
Centsible e-Reads may promote your freebie (scroll to the bottom of the page and complete the form).
Try getting an editorial submission for your book on Free Booksy—a site that also features affordable paid sponsorship packages.
Submit your freebie to the Frugal Reader freebie page (a feature is not guaranteed).
Follow Free eBooks Daily on Facebook or Twitter and then register to submit your free listing.
Submit your digital publication to Pixel of Ink, a very influential reader site that, if your book is chosen, will broadcast your book to thousands of subscribers.
Free Kindle Books and Tips allows you to list for free, but prefers books with a 4* or higher rating.
Submit your book to GoodKindles for as little as $7.
Talisman Book Publishing offers free promotional opportunities for e-books and is a lovely new start up site well worth checking out.
Try a free feature on Wonderworld Variety (although they don’t accept Zombie, vampire/werewolf, horror, erotica or anything controversial).
Submit your book to Awesome Gang. It’s free.
The week before
Submit to eReader News Today. There is no guarantee your book will make it on this influential site, but if it does, you can see a big increase in downloads. Thanks also to LK Gardener-Griffie for letting me know their submissions process has changed again. Submissions must be made at least 3 days in advance or they will not be posted, and books with fewer than 3 reviews or that are rated less than 4 stars will not be accepted. ENT will also not repost a free book within 60 days of that title’s preview book posting.
Submit your free book to PixelScroll.
Mediabistro.com’s Appnewser online chooses to feature several free e-books each week. Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature on Bargain Book Hunter with a free listing (all genres except erotica). Submitting does not guarantee your book will run, but you can purchase a guaranteed free placement (48 hours before your free day) for $5.
If you have 18+ reviews and a 4*+ Amazon rating, and your ebook is full-length fiction and not erotica, submit it to the Digital Book Today Top 100 Free Ebook list.
Going free on a Friday? You can add it to the Super E-books Friday Freebies page if you are Super E-books registered author. Indies Unlimited also runs a Friday feature, again called “Freebie Friday.” Visit the Indies Unlimited site on Thursday and watch for a post entitled “Freebie Friday Ramp-Up.” You need to add your book’s title, your name (author name), a blurb of just one sentence, and the link to the site that will have the book free the following day (Friday).
Three days before
Can’t be bothered with all that palaver? Authors Marketing Club runs a page that offers excellent Book Marketing & Selling Tips for Authors and enables you to upload to many different sites at once (although you still have to submit forms to each site)
48 hours before
Make a minimal donation of just $2 to have your free eBook featured on Flurries of Words and promoted via their Facebook and Twitter.
Submit to Douglas Pratt.com
On the day…
Eek! You’ve left it until the last minute! Naughty, naughty. Not to worry, there are still ways to spread the word.
Addicted to ebooks allows you to post about your book on the day it goes free only (or the night before). You need to register first to do so. Registration is free. Registered users can also submit any of their books priced under $5.99 to the site’s listing.
Post in the Links to Free Books thread in the Book Bazaar on Kindleboards.
List your giveaway on Snicklist.
Alert the Facebook pages/groups below (depending on your book’s genre). Many allow you to promote your e-book on the page once a week, providing that you like the page first and share it with others, but always read the “About” section first to find out what their posting guidelines and permissions are.
- eBooks Free Free Free
- Solid Series Facebook Page
- Only Romance Facebook page
- Ebooks of Horror Facebook page
- Share FREE eBooks
- GalleyCats New Books Page
- Free Today on Amazon
- Free books are Us Group
- Free Books for Kindle
- Ebook Deal of the Day US
- Ebook Deal of the Day UK
- Free Book Deal
- Free Kindle and Nook Books for Readers
- Kindle Korner
- Free Kindle Books & Tips
- Reading Kindle
- Indie Kindle
- Kindle Finds
Also, follow the lovely promotional folk below on twitter and let them know.
When you tweet, try using the hashtags #FreeKindleBook #freekindle #freebook #free #kindlepromo #freeebooks #IndieKindle #IndiePub #ebooks
A few more tips for free ebooks
- Don’t try to go free before you have reviews. While a free run can garner reviews from grateful
cheapskatesreaders, your downloads will be considerably reduced if you try it with no reviews to start with. Many of these sites will also not accept books with no reviews, and others require a 4* average. If you have just launched, try using Indie Review Tracker to find review sites or book bloggers that will review for free and that suit your genre first. You can even search by how long reviews take, to find a blogger who can review quickly.
- Tag your e-book on Amazon with “free e-book” or “free.”
- Make sure your dates are correct! Most of these posts are scheduled in advance so if your book is not free, you will be blacklisted.
- Make sure your Amazon ASIN or link is correct when you submit to sites (copy and paste it from Amazon rather than type it in).
- Don’t use shortened links (bitly links, for example) or Amazon affiliate links. These will be immediately ignored and you will be blacklisted.
- Don’t forget to post on your own Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and other sites, and let your website fans know too.
- Post about your free book on twitter at least once every three hours over its free period. I know that seems like a lot (it does for me too!) but some studies have show that a post an hour is optimal on twitter.
Huge thanks to Connie Brentford, author of The Moonlighter’s Guide to Online Writing for Immediate Income, for so generously sharing a lot of her excellent links for this blog post. Indie Review Tracker aims to continue adding more and more free and cheap promotional sites to the tracker by the day. At present, it features more than 200 sites—and that number continues to rise.
In the spirit of indie sharing and caring, if you know of sites that promote free books that aren’t listed in this post, please let me know about them in the comments, or, better yet, submit the site to the review tracker using the Submit Your Site form.
About Karin Cox
Karin Cox, the founder of Indie Review Tracker, is an Australian editor, poet, and author who spent more than 15 years working in the trade publishing industry in Australia and the UK. She edits and writes in her "spare time" while being a full-time mum to a toddler and to a black cat with the improbable name of "Ping Pong." She has written more than 32 trade-published books and has self-published five: Cruxim (a paranormal romance novel), Growth (poetry), Cage Life (short stories) and Hey, Little Sister and Pancakes on Sunday (both picture books).