Saturday, December 17, 2011

You did what? - Promotion for the Indie Author

You did what? is something I've been hearing a lot lately.  Other authors have asked me why I decided to give away over 200,000 copies worldwide of my book ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU for free.  I did it for two reasons and those two reasons I did not take lightly.  I thought about them and how this decision would impact me as an author.

First, I love the book.  Pure and simple.  It's family, it's forgiveness, it's learning to trust and it's Christmas all rolled up into one.  It's the Christmas season, and like many readers, I always stock up on Christmas themed books to read. I'm also a Hallmark Channel junky.  In November I set my DVR to record all my favorite Hallmark Channel Christmas stories so I can enjoy them throughout the Christmas season. 

I know I'm not the only one like this.  So choosing between the 4 books I self published last September was not a hard one.  If I'm going to give away a book, it may as well be one that readers like me will be drawn to.

The second reason I decided to give ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU away in most outlets had to do with marketing.  Publishers pour a lot of money into marketing.  I don't have that kind of cash on hand.   But publishers also give books away to readers and reviewers as a way to entice readers to join book club membership and to get them hooked on a series.  They give away books to create a buzz.  Sure, they can create a buzz by placing ads in places where readers will see them.  But there is no better way to let a reader know who you are and what you have to offer than to let them "sample" your work.  In these days of electronic publishing, it's harder to get your book noticed among a sea of other electronic books.  And without a ton of money to pour into advertisement, it's important to draw on what you have and work it.  Giving away an electronic book is virtually painless and it's free!

So that's what I did.  I looked at what resources I had at my disposal, my books, and decided to use that to my advantage.  Right now ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU is sitting on over 200,000 ereaders, cell phones, iPhones, laptops, etc. around the world.  Most of the people who downloaded my book probably won't read it. I think that's fair to say.  I buy books all the time and never read them for various reason.  But some of the people who download the book for free will read it.  If they like what they read, they may buy some of my other books.  If not, they'll cross me off their list of authors to buy without having paid a cent for my book.  Judging from the reviews I've received by email and at online bookstores, readers are pleased with what they've read and I couldn't be more thrilled!  

Let's go back to those readers who have my book on their ereader and don't read it...today.  Every time they turn on their ereader and browse through the books in their library, they'll see my book.  They'll see my name.  It's an impression.  How do I know this?  I'm a reader.  Remember all those books I buy and don't read?  I remember a lot of those authors names and books, even though I haven't read them, because I see the name and book title on my NOOK every time I turn it on.  If they don't read the book today, maybe they'll read it next month or next year.  I haven't lost my chance at winning these readers over until they delete the book from their elibrary.

You may be thinking that readers will expect a free book all the time.  There are certainly some readers who comb websites for free books.  But judging by the surge in sales on my other books, sales I'm sure I would not have had had I not chosen this marketing method to promote my books, I doubt it.  In fact, on the few online bookstores that still list my book for 99 cents, sales for ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU have done wonderfully.  Again, I'm not sure this surge in sales would have happened organically or not.  But I'm happy with the way things turned out.

I haven't reinvented the wheel.  Other authors have offered their books for free for a period of time in order to boost sales.  Publishers do this all the time.  Maybe they haven't done it for as long as I have.  But that was my decision.  And it's working for me.  I'm happy that I have a simple and inexpensive way to promote myself and my work while giving readers a gift from me.  Will I do this for the other books I currently have out?  No.  ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU is my gift to readers this year.  Next year?  Who knows. 

Lisa Mondello

6 comments:

Judy DV said...

I know the free book works for me. There is one author who had a free book and after reading that one I just had to read the rest! I'm sure folks will want to read more of yours as well after reading this one. I really enjoyed it. Kyle was such a sweetheart!

Jennifer Lynne said...

Indie publishing has many challenges, and for me, the main one is having to do your own marketing with limited resources. Your article gives a compelling argument for selectively offering free books.

Anonymous said...

I read your free book and I'm hooked, I've downloaded 3 more! I loved The Knight and Maggie's Baby and would love to read a book about Cam!

Lisa Mondello said...

Thanks for the kind words Anonymous. It's funny you should mention Cam. I'd always wanted to write his story if the first book was published. Now I'll have to rethink it and try to fit it into my schedule.

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Lisa,
I'm one of the free copies and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.....and like others...I've downloaded a couple more of your books.

Thanks for the Christmas spirit ...and the good read.

Megan Kelly said...

I love this idea. What better time to give away a book? I'd be interested in a blog about reaching readers in markets outside the US.
Can't wait to read your Christmas book. I'm sure it's as great as your others. :) Merry Christmas.

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