I finished my first Amazon Free Kindle event Saturday, March 31, 2012, at midnight. I'm not sure how to evaluate the results, but if the goal is to give away as many books as possible, I think it was a sensational success. Here's the final tally:
Amazon.com gave away 19,248 copies of Where Love Once Lived. Buyers in the United Kingdom picked up 75 copies while buyers in Germany grabbed three and buyers in France took two. The grand total was 19,328 copies.
What to Do Prior to the Start of Your Free Days
Some of what you do to maximize the number of books you give away must be done ahead of time. Other activities can be done beforehand to give you more time for what must be done after the free days period begins.
Here's what you should do early.
If you haven't already, pick an Amazon category for your book. This can take several days, so do it now. If you don't know how to do this, buy this How to Launch a Christian Best-Seller Book, The John 316 Marketing Network Manual by Lorilyn Roberts: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007MDPWIS. It contains additional information about book marketing as well.
I advertised in ACFW Journal and the Wordsmith Journal. This may or may not have helped. I like to think it did. Sales were up some prior to the free days.
Arrange to be a guest on other blogs.
I sent an email to AnthonyWessel@digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team to be included in http://www.squidoo.com/the-best-of-amazon-daily-free-ebooks-kindle-ipad. Also, I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in http://www.frugal-freebies.com.
This is what I wrote in the body of the emails:
Where Love Once Lived will be free 3/29, 3/30, 3/31
The Vengeance Squad will be free 4/13, 4/14, 4/15
Sidney W. Frost
You can also use an input form for Frugal Freebies: http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/submit-freebie.html.
Another page that allows for you to enter your free day information online is: http://www.ereaderiq.com/contact/. This is a great site. You can sign up to receive information about free Kindles by email. It is a very professional looking site, but keep in mind there are non-Christian books included as well. In fact, many of the resources noted in this report are not restricted to Christian. In addition, the categories they use many not fit the categories we are used to. Many of them do have ways to limit what you see and get in email to Christian only. However, some include some racy book covers in places.
Pixel of Ink – Free and Bargain Kindle Books: Go to http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/ and fill out the form.
Ereader News Today -- Tips, Tricks, And Free Ebooks For Your Kindle. Go to http://ereadernewstoday.com/ent-free-book-submissions/ and fill out the form.
Books on the Knob: http://blog.booksontheknob.org/. I didn't see a way to get listed, but this one looks like a possible resource. If you can figure it out let me know.
For independent publishers, go to Indie Book List: http://www.indiebookslist.com/kdp-select-submission-form/.
Author Marketing Club. Here is another one I like. Very professional with many ways to reach people. Go to http://authormarketingclub.com/members/announce-your-free-book/ to enter your information. As implied, you'll need to sign up for a membership. It's free.
Inspired Reads – Christian Kindle Books On A Budget: http://www.inspiredreads.com/contact/ to submit your book. You may want to subscribe to this one, too.
Family Fiction: http://www.familyfiction.com/contact-us/. This is a slick site, and I don't know if they did anything with the information I submitted. I suspect you may have to pay for advertising.
Here's an interesting site that may not help get the word out about your free Kindle days, but it can be used anytime to help track your Amazon bestseller status. http://tracker.kindlenationdaily.com/. It requires a free membership and they offer other services, some for payment. The tracker service is free. I used it for Where Love Once Lived and found my best standing was #8 in the Free Kindle Bestseller list. It shows the high and low by day and the price of the book. However, it does not show standings by category. Where Love Once Lived hit #1 for Christian Romance on the second day of my three-day free period and stayed there until sometime the next day. One thing nice about this tracker is that it keeps up with your ranking when you can't.
Before your free period begins you should have all your tweets written and posted for a particular date and time. I use TweetDeck (http://www.tweetdeck.com/ ) for this, but there are other ways to accomplish this. My tweets are set to automatically go to my Facebook page so I can take care of both at the same time. My fear is that I send too many tweets, but I know as a receiver, I don't always get to see every tweet and Facebook posting my friends do. So, hopefully, no one will get bombarded. For the Where Love Once Lived Kindle Free days, I posted seven tweets the first day (every two hours between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm), seven tweets on the second day (every three hours between 6:00 am and 11:00 pm), and 17 times on the third day (every hour from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm plus an extra).
Since my friend base is limited and I wanted to reach as many people as possible, I included #FreeKindleBook #freebook #free with each tweet as long as I have could fit it into the 140 character limit. TweetDeck automatically compresses links so that gave me more space to work with. I prepared my tweets in Word using a two-column table. The first column was for date and time and the second for the tweet. As I copied each one into TweetDeck, I marked it with a yellow highlight. Here are some examples of tweets I used:
Where Love Once Lived Tell your friends to get a copy FREE today. http://www.amazon.com/Where-Love-Once-Lived-ebook/dp/B003ZHVE1O/ #FreeKindleBook #freebook #free
Where Love Once Lived FREE! http://www.amazon.com/Where-Love-Once-Lived-ebook/dp/B003ZHVE1O/ Much of the action takes place on a bookmobile. #FreeKindleBook #freebook #free
Where Love Once Lived http://www.amazon.com/Where-Love-Once-Lived-ebook/dp/B003ZHVE1O/ " I especially liked the way you handled the racial relationships." FREE KINDLE ED. TODAY. #FreeKindleBook #freebook #free
Where Love Once Lived LAST DAY FREE KINDLE: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Love-Once-Lived-ebook/dp/B003ZHVE1O/ " Woven throughout the story is God's grace and mercy." #FreeKindleBook
Where Love Once Lived FREE!!! http://www.amazon.com/Where-Love-Once-Lived-ebook/dp/B003ZHVE1O/ "I commend your sensitivity to a woman's feelings and perspective. -- a quality rare in men!"
The parts in quotes were taken from reviews and other comments I received from readers.
What to Do On Free Days
Go to your Amazon page and add tags: Free ebook, Kindle Freebie, and Kindle Free. Make a note on your calendar to delete these tags after your free days.
Visit these Facebook pages and leave messages about your free Kindle book:
Free Kindle Books and Tips -- www.facebook.com/fkbooksandtips.
Frugal Freebies -- https://www.facebook.com/FrugalFreebies?sk=wall.
Coupon Divas -- https://www.facebook.com/CouponDivas?sk=wall.
Coupon Clipinista -- https://www.facebook.com/CouponClipinista?sk=wall.
Christian Books by Indie Authors: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Books-By-Indie-Authors/188636394517963.
Look for other Facebook pages where people would enjoy reading your book.
Send tweets to @kindlenews and any others you may find with followers who are potential readers of your book.
The benefits of giving away nearly 20,000 books eludes me at this time. However, if that's what you want to do it, I hope you will find this information useful. Please let me know.
I understand one benefit is to advertise your book and your name. However, what if everyone who would have bought the book now already has a copy? Friends have said they sold more of their other books while one was being offered for free. I noticed that with my other book, The Vengeance Squad, but not to the level where I would say it made a huge difference. I went from selling one book a day to selling an average of three books a day. If this continues, it will become more important. Also, if people decide to buy Where Love Once Lived after hearing about it even though it is no longer free, then I'll see some benefit. One writer friend lowered the price to ninety-nine cents after the free period and then gradually got it back to the regular price going up one dollar at a time. That could work, too. Especially for those buyers who got to Amazon late. I had 32 refunds on the day after the last free day. I suspect these are people who clicked the buy button before they realized the book was no longer free. There could be more of those. I hope not.
How Many Free Days Are Best?
This article assumes you know how to set up your book in KDP Select for your free days. However, if you're like me you will want to know how many of your five free days to use. One of my friends said to use more than one day at a time because you need to allow time for the word to get out. I didn't record "sales" around the clock, but I can say there were about 8,000 the first day, 6,000 the second day, and the remaining 6,000 the third day. Even though the most "sales" were on the first day, it took the Amazon engines time to digest it all. I didn't hit No. 1 bestselling status until late afternoon the second day. An old Dee Henderson book was second then, but her book overcame mine the next day. It's not bad getting knocked out of first place by one of your favorite authors.
Which Days of the Week Are Best?
After I selected three days, I wanted to know if the day of week would matter. No one had experience in that area, but I heard there is a lot of activity on weekends. For Where Love Once Lived, I decided on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and for The Vengeance Squad, I picked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
I have offered you the results of my experience, but much of the how-to was given to me by others. Especially, Shelley Hitz, Bob Saffrin, Martin Roth, Lorilyn Roberts, the John 3:16 Marketing Network, and squidoo.com. My special thanks to you all.
The information outlined in this article is not static. More than a few of the resources I learned from my friends were no longer available when I did my preparation. If you run into one like that then go to the next one.