It’s every writer’s dream. Every entrepreneur’s struggle. Every marketer’s goal.
The promise of more. More readers, more revenue, and more exposure.
What if I told you there was a way that you could find all three — but that it required you give something truly valuable away? Would you listen to me?
If you’re a Copyblogger reader, you understand the power of smart marketing that benefits your audience. In fact, you’re probably doing this in some form already: a free eBook, or a valuable email autoresponder series for new subscribers to your content.
But what if I told you that thousands of fans and potential customers were also waiting for you … on Amazon?
Well, that’s exactly what I found and couldn’t believe the results. In three days, I gave away a Kindle eBook on Amazon, and it was one of the best things I’ve done for my business and brand.
Here’s what I did (and how you can do the same) with some of the best material I’ve ever written …
- Sign up for the Kindle Direct Publishing program. This is Amazon’s self-publishing arm, and it’s super easy to get started. In fact, there’s an extensive how-to post here on Copyblogger that will walk you through it.
- Use an already-published eBook. In my case, it was my eBook, You Are a Writer, which had done really well in PDF sales but had recently plateaued. I had already converted it to the .mobi Kindle format, but if you don’t have an eBook in that format, you’ll need to do that. Scrivener is a powerful word processing app that also does a great job of formatting for the Kindle.
- Upload your book. When you’re going through the simple, two-page process to upload your book, you’ll need to click the “Enroll in KDP Select Program” box. There are several perks to this program, but the main one is that it allows you to give away your book for any five days over a 90-day period. Once you do that, Amazon will notify you within 24–48 hours, letting you know your book is live.
- Create an event. Once your book is live, you’ll need to log back into Amazon KDP and select which dates you’d like the book to be available for free. Since it takes time for this request to process, you’ll want to choose a time period that is at least 24–48 hours in the future. I did this kind of on a whim, choosing the next day, and Amazon didn’t process it for about 12 hours.
- Tell people about it. One of the reasons why you want to use an old eBook is so that you choose a product that already has an existing fanbase. These are your evangelists, and you want to empower them to tell their friends where they can get this great book for free. I blogged about it, emailed my list, and direct messaged a handful of influencers on Twitter, asking them to share it. (Note: It’s hard to be annoying when you’re asking people to share something that’s free.)
- Remind people before it expires. I emailed my list three times over the weekend that I ran my promotion, encouraging them not to miss this great opportunity. What’s interesting is not one person complained about getting too much email, and several told me they missed it and regretted it. Again, it’s hard to be annoying when you’re trying to give something away to people.
So here’s what happened as a result of this promotion … which was really just an experiment:
- My eBook was downloaded over 24,000 times. This happened over a three-day period. I didn’t do the full five days, because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and wanted to have the opportunity to run the promo again, if it failed.
- My email list grew. I didn’t ask for people’s emails in exchange for the eBook, but I linked to my blog at the end of the book and hundreds of new people found me that following week. I know this, because they all start emailing me, thanking me and saying they just found out about me through the eBook.
- My reputation increased. Towards the end of the promotion, my book was ranking #3 amongst all books in the Kindle Store (and #1 in all of its categories). Once you break the Top 100 on Amazon, this can earn you a lot of attention on book forums, blogs, and other websites. That’s exactly what happened. Plus, it’s great social proof for future sales (“An Amazon Best Seller!”).
- My sales increased. This is the really crazy part. I was a little worried that doing the giveaway would lead to cannibalizing my own market and ultimately hurt sales. But that’s not what happened at all. The week after the promotion, I sold 50% more books than the one before. Sales now average around 1000 per month (that’s about $3500 in net profit off of a book: not too shabby.)
All in all, the experiment was a success: my influence increased and sales didn’t suffer as a result. However, I did learn some valuable lessons:
- Amazon is a great marketing platform. Roughly 90% of my eBook sales were already coming from Amazon, so I wanted to see how I could leverage a freebie to increase buzz about the book (through reviews and the like). At over 150 reviews, it’s not doing too bad.
- There’s an opportunity cost. In order to be eligible for KDP Select, I contractually had to stop selling the book via PDF and Barnes & Noble. Like I said, I wasn’t getting a ton of sales through these outlets anymore, but it was still an opportunity cost.
- Selling books isn’t a great revenue strategy. As they say, the book is the business card. It’s a brochure, an introduction to your brand. That’s why I used the last few pages of my eBook to encourage people to check out my blog and to promote my upcoming online writing course.
If you’ve tapped your resources and are looking for a new way to get discovered, this is it. One friend recently finished a promotion in which he had over 50,000 downloads in five days. He doesn’t have a huge blog or a ton of Twitter followers; it’s all the power of Amazon.
Have you tried using Amazon’s KDP Select Program as a marketing tool?
If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
If not, what do you have to lose?