Lola’s Advice: How to promote your free or cheap book

Posted November 7, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Advice / 18 Comments

Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

A common way to promote books is to make them free or discount them to 0.99$ or 1.99$ for a limited time or even make them permafree or cheap forever. In this post I will list some of the possible ways to promote your free or cheap book, most of these tips will apply to both limited time free/ cheap books and forever free/ cheap books.

How to promote your free or cheap book

  • Send out a newsletter. If you have a mailing list make sure to send them a newsletter to let them know about your book being discounted. They signed-up because they are interested in your books, so make sure to let them know about your free or discounted book.
  • Spread the word on social media/ website. If you already have an established online presence you can use this to promote your free or cheap book. Schedule posts, tweets etc during your free or cheap days period to promote said fact. Maybe even ask your followers to share or retweets your post or tweet. If you have a website and/ or blog, you can announce it there as well.
  • Book a Blog tour. A blog tour or visits on blogs can be a good way to promote your free or cheap book. If possible make sure the post mentions the book is free or cheap and for how long. Or you can contact bloggers yourself and ask if they want to post about your free or cheap book. You can read my post about How to make the most of a blog tour for more information about blog tours.
  • Book ads with promo sites. Booking ads with promo sites is a very effective way to promote your free or cheap books. These sites often already have an established following or big mailing list and if you book an ad with them, they will include your book on their site, newsletter and/ or social media. There are sites which are free, although often the free ones don’t guarantee placement. Many of these sites also have terms, like minimum amount of reviews, how low the price should be or how big the discount should be and which books or genres they feature. Make sure to read their terms well. It also can help to ask other authors who write in your genres which sites worked best for them. But mostly it’s trying multiple sites for yourself for multiple books or different times and see what works for your books or genres and what not.
  • Book ads with facebook and other sites. Besides promo sites you can also book ads on facebook or pay to have your post reach more people. There are also other sites that accept ads, think book blogs, goodreads, other bookish sites etc.
  • Promote your book in facebook/ goodreads groups that allow you to do so. There are some groups on facebook and goodreads that allow self promotion, where you could post about your free and cheap post. Do make sure to read the rules of the group first or ask for permission to post there. Some goodreads group have a self promotion topic for this, so make sure to post in the right place.
  • Ask other authors to help spread the word. You can ask other authors if they want to help spread the word about your free or discounted book on social media or in their newsletter and maybe offer to do the same in return.
  • Ask your followers/ fans to help spread the word. You can also ask your fans, followers or Street Team to help spread the word on social media or their blog about your free or cheap book.
  • Set-up a giveaway. This might not be the first thing you think of, but I do believe a giveaway can help promote a free or cheap book. Especially combined with one or multiple of the other options. For example with rafflecopter you can pick options like tweet about the giveaway, which you can word to promote the free or cheap book. Or you can do a giveaway for people who help spread the word. Or even just a normal giveaway and hope the people it attracts to your website for example will notice the free or cheap book as well. Check out my post about How to Run a Giveaway for more information about giveaways.
  • Group promotions. I’ve been seeing these pop up more often lately and they seem like a very effective way to promote your free or discounted books. Group promotions are promotions were multiple authors discount their books or make them free. Usually there is a website page were all the books from the authors who signed-up for it are listed and each author promotes that page, making sure all those people are sent to the same page and will see all the books on there and from there can easily go to amazon and other vendor sites to buy them. I’ve seen a few sites that organize these and often it just seems to be authors of similar genres who band together for such a promotion. You can also set-up a promotion like this yourself if you know enough authors who want to participate. The topic can be as narrow or broad as you want to, sometimes it’s just free and discount books and then grouped by genres, some times it’s more specific like only science fiction romance for example.
  • Limited time offer. If your book is free or cheap for a limited time, you can use that during your promotion as well/ let your readers know this offer is only for a limited time and emphasize the temporary nature of the sale. Emphasizing the limited time nature of something can make people more likely to buy or grab your free book. On the other hand if you book is forever free or cheap you can also emphasize that, which might work better for some long term promotions and some book promo sites have special offers for permafree books.

Focus it on a short time period or spread promotions out?

I think there is no definite answer to this question, both are different tactics and strategies. And for a permafree or cheap book you can do both, do a burst of short term promotion focus and more long term promotions, while for limited time discounts or free books you often are forced to focus on a small time period. For example if your book is in KU you can make it free, but only for 5 days. So you’ll have to stack everything in those 5 days then. Short time period promotions have as benefit that you focus all your efforts in one week and hopefully also see a big bump during that week, if you want to try and rank high on amazon this might be more effective than long time efforts. But I think spreading things out also has it’s benefits, namely you might rank higher all time instead of having one peak before you drop off. And if you stack all your promotions around you might risk targeting the same people multiple times during that period, while targeting them once in a while might be more effective to have them help spread the word or pick up your book without overwhelming them too much.

As a blogger how do I find free or cheap books

As a blogger there are multiple ways how I hear about free or cheap books. I follow a lot of authors on social media and am subscribed to quite some newsletters, so that way I hear about free and cheap books, either because the author their own book is free or cheap or when they help spread the word about other books. I also follow other bloggers/ readers on social media and visit their blogs, where I hear about free or cheap books. Sometimes if I am looking for books in a specific genre I might check out the top 100 aid or free list for that genre on amazon. But most of the times it’s either through authors or other bloggers/ readers in some way. I am subscribed to a few newsletter for promo sites, like Bookbub an a few others through which I’ve gotten some cheap and free books as well. And a few times in a facebook or goodreads groups that I am part of.

Authors: Which methods do you use to promote your books when they are free or cheap?

Bloggers: How do you find free or cheap books?


18 responses to “Lola’s Advice: How to promote your free or cheap book

  1. It is definitely important that if a book is out there cheap or free that people have a way of finding out about it. All the ways you suggested sound good to me and I can’t think of any others.

    As a reviewer, I’ve had authors ask me regarding books I’ve read for the to help let folks know their book is on sale or free and I don’t mind.

    I also get newsletter announcements or see mentions in social media. I get alerts through Amazon and Good Reads when books on my wish list go on sale or are free. I try to pass these along and there are a couple of my GoodReads and Facebook groups that allow for me to share as well.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Letter From Ramsgate by Suzan Lauder #SweetDelightMy Profile

    • Yes a free or cheap book discount isn’t as effective when no one knows about it, so spreading the word is very important.

      Same here I’ve had some e-mails about discounted books and often post on social media about it. or when i find out about one in some way I try to share.

      The alerts from amazon can be handy as well sometimes.

    • Social media and then especially facebook is one of the ways I often hear about free/ cheap books as well. And from fellow bloggers/ readers on there as well.

    • I sometimes search on amazon when I am looking for a new book in a specific genre, but it’s more likely I hear about free/ cheap books through newsletters or social media.

    • Social media, blogs and newsletters are probably the most common way for me to hear about freebies. I rarely check the bargain section on amazon, but it can be nice if you’re looking for a specific genre for example.

  2. I used to do a lot more free book downloading sprees than I do now lol. I used to be signed up for numerous newsletters like BookBub, Book Gorilla, and others I can’t remember. I got a lot of free books through there. I’ve also heard about free books from author newsletters whether they were promoting their book or another author’s book. Sometimes I hear about free books through bloggers, like you on your Sunday posts. Occasionally I check the Top 100 free list and the free section of Amazon (though that free section is hard to find). I rarely find out about free books through social media though.

    Oh, but I wanted to mention that Goodreads giveaway might be an even better option than rafflecopter. I find lots of books I’m interested in through GR giveaways because I scroll through to find the books that look interesting, and whether I enter the giveaway or win or not, a bunch of new books always end up on my TBR. And if I see that the book is free when I click to Amazon, I download it 🙂
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Damned If I Do (The Harker Trilogy Book 1) by Erin HayesMy Profile

    • I still download quite some freebies every week. I am subscribed to a few newsletter, but often I hear about it directly from the author or other authors through social media or newsletters. I also occasionally check the top 100 lists on amazon, but usually only if I am looking to read something new in a specific genre.

      Good point, goodreads is also a good way to find new books. But with goodreads giveaways it’s harder to promote the fact that you’re book is free, I feel like the main aim of goodreads giveaways is to spread the word by having people add it to their to-read list. While rafflecopter and such often have options you can add for that, like tweet about the giveaway, which can be used to promote your free book. I personally don’t enter a lot of goodreads giveaways, I always forget to check them out. Although I do like goodreads e-mails you when a book on your shelves is for giveaway, very handy and I’ve entered some giveaways because of that. I never thought to check out if the book might have been free.

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