Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How to Promote (and take advantage of) Free Ebooks

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Being a full-time writer is always an adventure. I can try to plan my day, week, and month, but there will always be days where the unexpected pops up, asking me to drop everything and pay attention. This usually comes in the form of marketing and promotion.

Most of you know that two of my books are currently part of a free ebook promotion. When I found out about that, I did my best to promote it through my website and social media channels. Then I went back to life as usual: writing, writing, writing.

Last week I found out that my publisher arranged to have By Darkness Hid featured with BookBub today, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. BookBub is an email newsletter for readers to find out about deals in their favorite genres. BookBub is "the" premiere email newsletter for ebook promotion. I've tried to buy ads with them before and have always been rejected. They simply have too many ebooks to choose from. So I was thrilled that my publisher had worked all this out. And, as usual, the publisher asked me to promote the free ebook that day (today). It is their goal to see By Darkness Hid reach the top of the Amazon Free Ebook list on Wednesday. (Today!)

This gave me pause. Here's why. 1) I already promoted the free ebook on my website and social media. I don't like to say the same things to my followers over and over. 2) This is By Darkness Hid, my oldest published book. It's been out since 2009. Anyone I know has heard of it. Anyone who follows me as a reader, has likely read it.

What's an author to do in this situation?

There is always something you can do. And, I feel, as authors, we should actively partner with our publishing houses so that anything done to help us has the best possible chance of success.

So what did I do?

1) I set aside some time to make a plan. It would not be overly complex because of the reasons stated above. But I wanted to carefully consider my actions so that I would be making wise choices.

2) I emailed my newsletter subscribers about the deal. This was one of my outlets I had yet to contact in regards to the free ebook deals, so now seemed an appropriate time to let these followers know.

3) I created a meme that could be easily shared.

4) I told the people who are members of my Readers of Jill Williamson Facebook group about the BookBub ad that would be out on Wednesday and asked them to consider sharing the meme when I posted it.

5) I posted the meme on my website, Facebook pages, and Twitter and asked people to share it.

6) Since it was Wednesday, I wrote a blog post here on Go Teen Writers to share the information with you in a way that, I hoped, might benefit you all someday.

And that's it.

I might post a few updates throughout the day on my Facebook pages to let people know how the books is doing. I will play this by ear: wait and watch and see.

Promoting this ebook advertisement was something I hadn't known I would need to do. But it's important to be flexible as a writer because things will crop up that need to be done. Below is a list of other ways you could promote a free or discounted ebook, in case any of you ever need to do this. But first, will you help me today by sharing my free ebook with readers you know who might like to try a new medieval fantasy novel? Let's see how high By Darkness Hid can get on the Amazon list today! Here is the meme you can save and share. And under that are some links and Tweetables to make things easy.

By Darkness Hid Free on ---> Share on Facebook


Do you like YA fantasy? Get BY DARKNESS HID by @JillWilliamson for #FREE today on #Kindle.  ---> CLICK TO TWEET

Free #Kindle fantasy BY DARKNESS HID by @JillWilliamson is a “thoroughly entertaining & smart tale.” -@LibraryJournal ---> CLICK TO TWEET

Get hooked on The Blood of Kings fantasy series with BY DARKNESS HID by @JillWilliamson #FREE #ebook on #Kindle  ---> CLICK TO TWEET

Thank you!

Other ways to promote a free ebook

-Write a post on your author blog.

-Set up guest blog posts. Maybe offer a paperback giveaway so that people who enter to win can earn more entries for sharing about the free ebook.

-Share on social media and ask people to help spread the word.

-Pay for a Facebook ad to promote the Facebook post if you have a fan page.

-Send out your ezine to subscribers.

-Cross-promote with author friends and post the link to your publisher's page so that the publisher and other authors can share with their readers.

-Apply for listings on various sites that promote ebooks. Some are costly and some are free. Some only promote free books, and others only promote books that are discounted for a price. Many of these sites have requirements and won't guarantee a listing. In most cases, you apply to a certain list by genre. So you would pay to have your book shown to subscribers who want to read your genre. This keeps the right people learning about the right types of books. Always apply for as many free places as possible. Make sure you read the details on each site to know what you're agreeing to. *Also, some of these sites promote erotic genres. Many don't. I'm just warning you that on some on the sites, you might see a cover that's a little out there, so use discernment.

Here is a list of ebook newsletters or websites you could check out to help promote your ebook. I have used several of these, but not all.

Addicted to Ebooks
Awesome Gang
Bargain Booksy
Bargain Ebook Hunter
Best Ebooks Free
Book Basset
Book Bear
Book Circle
Book Club Reading List
Book Goodies
Book Gorilla
Book Praiser
Booklover's Heaven
Books Butterfly
Books on the Knob
Buck Books
Choosy Bookworm
Daily Bookworm
Digital Book Today
Discount Books Daily
ebook Bargains UK
e-Book Bird
ebook Lister
eBook Pro
eBook Soda
eBook Stage
eBook Deal of the Day
ebooks Habit
eReader News Today
eReaders Cafe
eReaders Perks
Flurries of Words
Free Discounted Books
Free Kindle Books and Tips
Fussy Librarian
Genre Plus
Good Kindles
Hot Zippy
Ignite Your Book
Indie Author News
Just Kindle Books
Kindle Daily Nation
One Hundred Free Books
People Reads
Read Cheaply
Reading Deals
Story Finds
The Books Machine
The Midlist

And here is a link to a blog post that compares many of the sites on this list to give you a quick once over.

These lists aren't just convenient places to promote your ebooks. They're also a great way to find out about new books so that you can read widely, which is almost always a valuable investment of time for a writer.

Do you subscribe to any of these ebook deal newsletters? If so, which ones are your favorites? If you had a free ebook promotion going on, what else might you do to help spread the word? Share in the comments.


  1. Eep! Exciting! I'll certainly help you promote. (And, hm, someone's already retweeted the tweet I did)

    And, yeah, I kinda get your issue of "to promote, or not to promote, and how in Er'rets am I going to do it." It's a question I face every time I set my own oldest and most-already-downloaded book, Sew, It's a Quest on a free spin. Everyone and their dog (at least out of my immediate fanbase and most of their connections) have already downloaded, and I don't have a nice publishing company to arrange things with the big websites. Thanks for this post (and the list of websites - I'm totally bookmarking them.)

    Oh, and Jill, in case you aren't aware, Blood of Kings now has a Goodreads fangroup:
    It's a bit small at the moment, but we're trying to find all the fans and gather them together and ... do whatever it is fans do. I'm certainly going to go tell them to promote, if they haven't started already!

    1. Thanks for that, Kendra. I hope you find some good sites to help your next promotion. The Fussy Librarian is one of my favorite, affordable ones.

      I didn't know about the fan group! How fun. I will post about it on the Blood of Kings Facebook page and on my author page too. Thanks for letting me know. :-)

  2. I went and grabbed it for my Kindle this morning. Not much else I can do, since I don't use Twitter or Facebook, and I'm crazy busy anyway, but good luck!

    1. Thanks so much, Ellie. I appreciate it. Every download helps. :-)

  3. As a member of said Blood of Kings Goodreads fangroup, I'm on it ;) Just did Pinterest, going for Google+...that's about all I have. :P Oh! Goodreads! Yeah, I'll do that too.

    Hope this works out well! I can understand your urge to eye-roll (or at least sigh), because I would totally do that. "Come on, guys...really? I just did this free thing annnnnd...this book is really old already...can I promote something else now?"

    1. Thank you, Amanda! <3 You guys have helped immensely!

  4. Yay!
    Since I don't have any of the cool stuff (Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) I'll be doing a blog post on my blog!

    Wish you luck!

  5. You guys have helped so much! So far the book is ranked at #16, which is AWESOME!!!
    You all are my heroes. :-)

  6. Just checked today, and it's at #12 now and #1 in fantasy! WHOOO!