Lessons learned from an Amazon ebook giveaway

Sea Lord rankingFIRST VOYAGE: THE SEA LORD CHRONICLES sailed into the top listings for its categories (No. 1 in “military and war” for children and No. 6 for “sea stories” in general).  Huzzah!

The Amazon promo wrapped up at midnight Tuesday with more than 160 readers downloading the free ebook from Friday through Tuesday. That works out to roughly 30 downloads per day. It was a pretty good deal, considering the book was being listed at $5.99. Overall, this was an impressive number of books downloaded, when you see that in February the book sold just 12 copies (and about the same number in January). Not exactly burning up the sales charts, so the giveaway basically connected a year’s worth of readers with the book in just five days.

Making it free was one step … but how was I going to let people know about the book deal on Amazon?

I tweeted and posted on Facebook, of course, so that got some response. It’s a little harder to tell the results of the Tweets, though I did try a couple of hashtags such as #freeebooks for someone looking for, well, free books! I’m just not sure about the value of Twitter because it does seem like a vast wasteland of self promotion. I don’t download those books people constantly Tweet about unless it’s something that really grabs me. Do you?

Also, I took out a small ad on Goodreads to promote the giveaway. Though viewed by more than 10,000 visitors, the ad got just 7 clicks for the free on Kindle offer, which was disappointing (and very expensive “per click”). Honestly, I’ve never had much luck with Goodreads “self serve” advertising and probably won’t bother again because your book just becomes so much background noise. Let’s just be clear that overall Goodreads is wonderful … it’s just not a great advertising vehicle for authors.

On his blog, the lively J.A. Konrath suggested promoting through BOOKHUB and I gave that a try, but my offer was rejected by the gatekeepers at BOOKHUB. That left me scratching my head—I guess it’s exclusive or something, even though I was trying to buy paid advertising. If those guys ran a restaurant, I suppose you’d need to wear a coat and tie to get in the door, and maybe slip somebody a couple of twenties to get a table.

All in all, however, I was happy with how the giveaway turned out. It was a lot of work and effort, for which I earned nothing as an author, but perhaps some kind souls will post honest reviews about the book on Amazon. There might also be some benefit in terms of increased visibility on the Amazon bestseller lists, at least in the short term. I’ll also be lowering the price … maybe that will help someone decide if their cursor is hovering over that yellow “Buy this book” button.

The most important thing to keep in mind regarding the giveaway is that the book made it into the hands of readers.

One thing for sure, I never could have afforded to hand out more than 150 print books to anybody who wanted one. With an ebook, it’s my feeling that those free copies got into the hands of people who (hopefully) really want to read it. Once again, what Amazon has done for authors and readers is nothing short of spectacular and game changing.

Thank you to all those who have bought or downloaded THE SEA LORD CHRONICLES. Enjoy the voyage, my friends.




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4 Responses to Lessons learned from an Amazon ebook giveaway

  1. mike says:

    Hi David thanks so much for your book my kids and i loved it and are looking for the next installment.

    Being an avid old sea salt tale fanatic and wanted to instill a similar passion for the maritime traditions with my kids. I saw the book through amazon and downloaded it as I am still hungover from Patrick O’brien and needed a sea tale fix. After reading two chapters, I realised this is just the sort of tale that would engage the boys (aged 7 & 9) and give them a taste of life at sea in a ship of the line. The added combination of gryphins and elementals worked a treat and my kids are now considering their careers as flyers. Currently we are heading to Portsmouth from Sydney Australia this week to visit the Victory and Mary Rose (poor wife).

    In looking for the next installment I discovered your blog and read about your efforts to promote the book.
    would happily suggest you touch base with Booktopia in oz as this is a smaller outfit competing with Amazon based in Australia. We are familiar with the prioprietors and would be happy to recommend the book as a great read and adventure, especially for boys who sail.

    looking forward to the next book very soon
    Mike Salter

    • David Healey says:

      Thank you, Mike, for the very kind comment. You know, I wrote the story with my own kids in mind (and they were helpful in developing the plot and characters). I was trying to write a book that boys in particular would enjoy because sometimes finding great books for them can be challenging. Our best to your family. Huzzah!

  2. Mike Salter says:

    Hi David
    it certainly hit the right note with my kids.
    We are back from the UK after crossing the channel and visiting Nelson’s Victory the kids are still asking when the next story is due.
    keep writing

    • David Healey says:

      Mike, that sounds like a wonderful trip! I have a book fair today but will be buckling back down this evening and tomorrow on the sequel. Thanks so much to you and your sons for reading! Best, David

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