Do Amazon ‘giveaways’ increase book sales?

free

As a budding indie author I have spent the best part of the last two years researching how to go about self publishing my work. Purely and simply this is because I do not have the confidence (as yet, and frankly I don’t know if I ever will), to submit to a traditional publishing house. There are a plethora of posts on the internet from interesting and informative authors, who provide a wealth of information to a horde of avid readers that desperately want to get their work published and recognised.

One of the most discussed themes for getting more sales is giving your book away. To me this seemed like the silliest concept in the world.

Give my book away! I thought. You must be bloomin’ joking! I worked my ass off on it! Not to mention the fact that it cost a fortune to get a professional cover design and editing. That’s just an insane idea!

I maintained my initial view for a few weeks. That is until the sorry reality of the Amazon marketplace struck home. The truth is that it is really difficult to sell books, particularly in a genre like science fiction or fantasy (which I tend to gravitate toward). Believe it or not, far more romances are sold (not to mention the gazillion iterations of teenage angsty vampire books that are out there) than any other fiction. Fantasy and science fiction are by no means small genres, but there is another problem. It seems that a disproportionately large number of people (myself included) think that they should have a go at writing the next ‘Lord or the Rings’ or ‘Dune’. That has lead to a marketplace that is absolutely saturated. It is also a marketplace where it is very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not to mention the fact that if the Amazon algorithms don’t pick you up, your book, no matter how good, can sink to the bottom of the huge mountain of other wannabe Tolkiens.

Anyway. It’s difficult. Nuff said. To cut a long story short, I released three pieces of work (‘Paradise’, ‘Empire Under Siege’ and ‘The Bloody King’) and none of them were selling particularly well. Suddenly an Amazon giveaway seemed like a good way to go.

So, a few weeks ago, I posted a giveaway for my novelette ‘Paradise’. It is a piece of work that I am immensely proud of and it currently has ten reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.7 stars. These are real reviews from real people with no vested interest in giving me a good review at all (i.e. they are not bought on the internet or from friends and relatives etc).

There are two routes you can use to give books away on Amazon. You can reduce the price of your book to nothing on the other sales channels and then get people to write to Amazon, who should (eventually) price match the book. I used the second option, which is to enrol in the KDP select programme which gives you five days in any ninety day period when you can give your books away.

The problem I had was that I waited so long, that when I wanted to post my giveaway, my ninety days were almost up. I promptly panicked and visited a great website called authormarketingclub.com that lists a load of websites that will post your free book up to their readers (and include your free book in their newsletters). I listed ‘Paradise’, on all of the websites I could, as free from the next day. In retrospect this was a big mistake as many of the sites have submission deadlines and so did not feature ‘Paradise’ on their sites.

Over the next four days I tweeted like crazy about my free book and (probably mostly through this) managed to get about 400 downloads (although I must have driven my followers mad…). This does not compare well to the thousands that other authors claim to get, but it was better than nothing (I thought).

file000309115268

The result of my massive giveaway? Was there an enormous boost in sales? Did I recoup all of the expenses generated in publishing my works? Do I now have a huge following of fans who are desperate to read my next book?

I saw a fifty percent increase in sales. Did they all result from the giveaway? Probably not (my sales were growing slowly anyway and I released the second book in the ‘Adarna chronicles’, ‘Phoenix Rising’ recently). Essentially, it was a small increase on a small number.

Finally. In answer to the question ‘Do Amazon giveaways work?’ I would have to say that, for me, the jury is still out. For this reason I am going to run another giveaway for ‘Paradise’, but this time I have done everything right. The postings have been submitted in advance. The giveaway starts on the 25th August and finishes on the 27th. Why not pick up a copy and see what you think?

I will report back on the results of the second giveaway in a few weeks. Until then, would I recommend that you try it yourself? Hmmm…

If you like this post why not ‘like’ it below or share it on twitter or something like that. You could even follow my blog (button on the top right).

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “Do Amazon ‘giveaways’ increase book sales?

  1. Jorie

    Hallo, Hallo, it has been awhile since I’ve been able to stop by & seeing the cover art for your two novels, I can see why you *won!* an award! Wow. They are beautiful!

    Another way to go about finding the right readers who will appreciate your body of work and provide honest reviews & feedback is to put your novel (or novels) on a blog tour. I personally have found several ‘new’ authors through hosting the blog tour for their novel, as the tour allowed me to read a published book by either: a self-published novelist, an Indie published novelist or a Major Trade published novelist. As far as historical fiction and/or science fiction, I can recommend highly three touring companies (whose badges are in my sidebar): Book Junkie Promotions, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, & TLC Book Tours.

    I’m very active in the book blogosphere & in the twitterverse both of which offer more opportunities for author’s to feature their work than they might realise possible. Even the Book Blogging database has a way to list a book for review; most of which are e-books. Tours can be hosted for e-books, audiobooks, print editions (ARC or finished copy), etc.

    I wish you continued success and also, that your readers will start to give you feedback and notes about what they love about your stories, as well as what your writing on your blog. Maybe a few will start to tweet you too! That is always a joy for me, tweeting authors I enjoy reading! 🙂 OR tweeting authors of stories I want to read and/or simply enjoying the conversations as they arise, as Twitter breaks down the barriers between readers and writers; it is a beautiful community for the bookish which compliments the book blogosphere well.

    ps: As a side note: even if a reader does not post a review on a commercial website (as I do not) never discredit their enjoyment of the novel, nor their ability to inspire others to read the story as they tend to be quite enthused to talk about which stories alight a spark of joy inside them after they read the novels. There are more ways to spread the word of a novel and word of mouth between friends and those you interact day to day can be potential new readers too. I simply love sharing the joy of my reading life and if something I read is shared in a way that inspires someone else to become interested in reading the same book — the joy I gave is returned twicefold; not just to me, but to the author.

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Jorie,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. Really happy that you like the covers and love the great advice that you have given. I was thinking about a blog tour in the future but have heart mixed reviews of their effectiveness. Now that I know the names of three good tour sites I think I’ll pop over and give it a try (and no doubt blog about the results in the future! 🙂

      Reply
  2. mobewan

    Some great insight. Like you I find it hard to draw conclusions, but it doesn’t sound like you have lost sales as a result of this experiment – so the worst case scenario is that several new people have read your book. The desire for instant conversion is strong (I’m with you on that), but I believe you have to consider it an investment as well. Having people read it (assuming the freeloaders read it) will pay off over the long term, especially if you keep active and keep producing.

    One observation (and please take this as IMHO) – I wonder if you would see different results with Empire? With it being part of a series it may lead to increased sales of Phoenix… I know I tend to follow series more than I do specific authors these days, and the evidence I’ve seen dotted around the net seems to support a funnel type approach where the first book in a series being free/cheaper encourages commitment to a series.

    That said, I haven’t got Paradise yet, so I’m happy for you to put it up for free 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Thanks Colin,

      Yeah, it’s difficult to know if the freeloaders actually read the book at all, which is frustrating. It’s almost a shame that Amazon can’t track this and let you know how many start it at least…

      I have thought about doing ‘Empire’, but it still turns my stomach to think of it. I think you are right though, there is probably a greater chance of follow through if people start a series.

      Hope the writing is going well and enjoy your free copy of ‘Paradise’, at least I know it will go to one good home…

      Reply
  3. Laura

    In my experience, it also helps to time the free promotion of the first book in a series with the release of the second. They like #1, they are far more likely to buy #2 and more. Mobewan is right, it is an investment. My first free days resulted in my first book (briefly) ranking #14 in the scifi/fantasy genre on Amazon.

    I’m glad I noticed the post in time. I haven’t read ‘Paradise” yet either and I do leave reviews 🙂 In fact, if I really like it, I’ll put the review on my blog. I don’t do that much.

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Laura,
      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the helpful advice too 🙂 I really hope that you do like it and if you do I would be so grateful for the exposure on your blog (fingers crossed). Let me know how you get on anyway as constructive criticism is always welcome…

      Reply
  4. Laura

    I read Paradise last night, I must say, I’m impressed. I have had less than good experience lately with unfamiliar authors. Your work is a refreshing surprise. I posted the review on Amazon and on my blog. I’ll get it up on Goodreads also. My only real criticism is calling it a stand alone story, when it’s really a first chapter. In a stand alone you do have to resolve the main conflict in some way. All this really does is stir a desire to know what’s actually going on. However, it does a stunning job of that! If nothing else, you have generated some serious interest in the full novel.

    In keeping with the blog post, I would consider this more of a promotional tool than anything else. By all means, give it away or at least offer it at a very low price. For one thing, it’s too short to ask the kind of price you’d put on a full novel. And it’s such a good sample of your skill 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Thanks Laura 🙂 One of my biggest regrets is putting that sentence in the afterword. Paradise was always meant to be a stand alone story and, perhaps, I would have been better off not mentioning my thoughts on a second book as they have lead to many similar comments to yours.
      In truth I only really decided I might write a second book when I was writing the afterword….
      Hey ho, not to worry though. I am writing the next book (a full novel) as my nanowrimo project this year…
      Thanks so much for your kind comments. I am truly delighted that you liked Paradise and thanks so much for the exposure on your blog, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Best wishes

      Jason

      Reply
  5. Paul Corcoran

    Hi Jason, interesting post! I’ve experimented with kindle free and countdown. I published my first book in February this year. From my limited experience I found the free giveaway was good for getting new readers and new reviews but saw no increase in sales. On kindle countdown I had slightly better results as you stay on the paid list – very import for Amazon’s algorithms! Long and short, I think, it’s worth giving away the first book in a series to get those all important reviews, once you’ve got about 10 good ones, I would use kindle countdown and keep it around 99p/99c for the 5 days – that should get it well up the ranks and once it’s up there Amazon does a good job at keeping it steady 😉 Oh another con with giveaways – you will get the odd poor review as the freeloaders seem to download anything, including genres they don’t normally read and are extremely disappointed when they get round to yours – take a look at the reviews on my book Discovery of the Saiph ( http://mybook.to/Saiph1 ) – amazon.com site and you’ll see what I mean.

    Anyhoo! it’s a slog and keep up the good work!
    Paul

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Paul,
      Looking at your book it seems like you are doing a lot right, well inside the top 50,000 on Amazon last time I saw it. Thanks for the sage advice. I may give paid promotion a shot 🙂 (hmmm, I feel another blog post coming on….).

      Reply
      1. ppcorcoran

        Yeah, I’m happy enough with my sales, a helluva lot better than I expected! (just need to finish book 2, but that’s another story!). To be honest, I’m wary of paid promotions, have spent about 30 quid total (I’m tight – I’d rather spend that on editing!) and really haven’t seen much return from the ads. There’s loads of websites for listing free or 99p/c websites eg. http://www.trainingauthors.com/places-to-promote-99-cent-ebooks You probably already have a very long list of websites, I’ve spreadsheets full of them! (when I say “I” it’s the royal “I” my other half does most of the promo/marketing side of things in her spare time) Anyway, if you need any leads drop me an email I’m happy to pass on which ones I thought were worth doing. Good luck!

      2. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

        Thanks Paul. Blimey, what I would love to get my hands on those spreadsheets… I popped over to your blog, it looks great by the way. Do you have an e-mail address? You could DM it to me on twitter if you don’t want to go public!
        Thanks again for all the useful intel. Much appreciated.
        Jason

  6. odonnelljack52

    algorithms rule the world. I’ve been thinking about many of the same things as you and was planning (in a wooly kind of way) to write something about it. It seems to me we spend so much time shouting look at me, look at me, look at me that we don’t really get time to read or do anything else. Yeh, I’m whinging, never a good quality. So if you’re looking at me I’m not really whinging, just making a salient point that may be useful at some point in an alternative universe. I’ll bookmark this and come back to it. It’s a useful post. The problem with free is it becomes an expectation.

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      I think you just hit the nail on the head and I couldn’t agree more. Free becomes an expectation and there are many readers out there now who will never buy another book because we keep giving ours away (OK, now I am sounding a little negative!) to try to get attention. It’s a tough market out there 🙂

      Reply
  7. 1jdadam

    Jason, thank you for this post! I’m delighted to know about you and your work. Of course I’m following your blog. I laughed heartily to myself when I read “Purely and simply this is because I do not have the confidence (as yet, and frankly I don’t know if I ever will), to submit to a traditional publishing house.” As a poet I reached a melting point when a University Press sent me a rejection on a piece that clearly out shined anything in their publication. I went crying to my Professor from years past who was to become my editor soon after. Allow me to share what he told me here, “Well, JD, personally it’s the best thing that could happen, I don’t want you to get involved with academia, they will change your style!” But you spoke to exactly how I felt after that particular decline! May Con-e-wego Fox rest in peace and my love!
    I’m a huge fan of SciFi, it’s practically the only reading I do outside of all my reference reading, and I look forward to reading your work. I suspect you can bring the same clarity to your “imaginings” as you do here!
    Wonderful information from your experience, which is so much more trustworthy in my mind than all the “professionals” together!
    Thank you again!

    Reply
      1. 1jdadam

        Hi Jason, forgive my tardiness, I am as far from a tech savvy individual as, well, our Ruling Elite are from reality! I deeply appreciate your comment and encourage you to do the hardest part of writing…..pen to paper! 🙂 Can’t read what isn’t written….I look forward to enjoying and being enriched by your work!

  8. Pingback: Amazon Selling Tips And Tricks | D$ Domination

  9. Carole-Ann

    OK – late to the conversation here 🙂 I’m a reader, with occasional review (on GoodReads unfortunately, but I will add to Amazon if requested), and I rarely, if ever, buy ‘free’ books. The only time is when I KNOW the author, and it’s there as a freebie to promote another book.

    So, I will buy promising books @ 99c/77p and, if I enjoy, will buy full price later publications (the only example I can give is Slave by Kol Anderson. I got that one for 77p – through recs about a year ago, – but every single other publication he’s put out, I have bought full price 🙂 ). The impression I get is that the peeps who ‘buy’ free books do it just because they’re free and have no REAL interest in promoting the author.

    I know the free offers boost the sales, but, ultimately, is it worth it? IDK, but ‘free’ to me, from a new/unknown author, indicates desperation 🙂 Like Laura mentions, offering the first in a series free when the second is due to be published, is more likely to generate interest for the genuine reader. 🙂

    *Hugs* and lining up ALL your books in my TBR list 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jason K Lewis - Writer Post author

      Hi Carole-Ann, thanks for the words of encouragement and thanks for checking out my books. I really hope that you like them. It is really difficult to know what to do these days. At the moment my plan is to maybe offer ‘Paradise’ free occassionally as a ‘taster’ of my writing but I don’t think that I will ever offer anything else for free to be honest. 🙂 Best wishes, Jason.
      P.S. Writers need readers like yourself and it is always a pleasure to meet them!

      Reply
  10. tuvan74

    You’re doing great Jason. You’re a success already. I wish I’d not rushed into publishing without some guidance. Maybe I would’ve sold more books to the public apart from my family members. Keep it up!

    Reply
      1. tuvan74

        Hey can you follow my blog? I followed yours. I love it when another Indie writer makes it big, shows that the movement is getting stronger.

        Maybe you’ll be the next Hugh Howey or A.G. Riddle.

  11. tuvan74

    Let me know if you ever want to guest blog on my website. You may grab some customers. It’s a win-win. Don’t know if you’ve ever done that on other blogs or if you’ve had success but the offer is on the table if you’re interested.

    Reply
      1. tuvan74

        Sounds good. It can never hurt to collaborate. The worst-case scenario is that we’ll both gain some exposure on each other’s sites. So it’s not a bad deal and wont cost either one of us a penny.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s