SPQ 072: Should You Pay to Launch a Free Book (and What Sites Get the Best ROI)?

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The Question

Daemon asks: If I was going to do a free book promotion, is it worth spending the money on certain advertisements? Which ones do you think have the biggest return on investment?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Steve launches his books at 99 cents each, so his strategy is a little different than the strategy Daemon asked about. If you don’t have an established platform, you definitely want to look into the free book strategy.

This strategy is very competitive; there are a lot more authors than promotional spots. Steve recommends paying for ads to get more visibility for your book.

You need to set a budget for each launch. Your budget should be between $100 and $200, if at all possible. You should also run promos on different days.

One of the disadvantages of Amazon is that it’s hard to pinpoint what is helping your books sell and what is not. If you’re doing a five-day promotion, try paying for advertising on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This gives you enough time to determine if each ad works.

Create an Excel spreadsheet that includes columns for the websites you’re using, a link to each promotion, the cost of each advertisement, and any notes you have about your campaign.

Steve says you should avoid most Fiverr gigs that promise to promote your book to a lot of fans. Not only do these gigs not increase sales, people don’t even click on the ads. There are a few quality Fiverr gigs where you’re paying people to submit your book promo to 30 or 40 different websites. This is a good investment.

There are some good blog posts that talk about leveraging the free book strategy.

Read these posts to learn more about doing a successful book launch.

It’s been almost two years since Steve has launched a free book, so he went on Facebook and asked people to give him a list of the best sites for paid promotions.

These sites have been vetted by other authors. Special thanks to Bryan Cohen, Rachael Marie Newport, and Leigh Morgan for helping to compile this list.

Check out the three blog posts Steve mentioned to see how other people have done a quality book launch with a free book. When you launch, you need to get your book into as many hands as possible.

Investing money is important, but you also need to invest time into reaching out to people and asking them to read or share your book.

Resources and Links

How to Get an eBook to #1 on Amazon: Scott Britton shares the tactics he recommends to promote an ebook and get 40,000 downloads on Amazon

Behind the Scenes of a 20,000-Download Book Launch: Nick Loper outlines the steps he took to get 20,215 free downloads and more than 1,200 paid downloads

How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon: Spencer Haws explains how to launch a book that makes over $100 per day

Paid Promotion Websites:

  • Hi Steve,

    I am loving these tips 😉 I am looking into paid promotion a bit more so super helpful stuff here. I also feel just reaching out, making friends and building bonds encourages other power brokers to promote you, and then, your sales and downloads will jump too. I recall – way before my Kindle days – Adrienne Smith reviewing my first Blogging from Paradise book. Didn’t even ask her; she just did it based on my promoting her so much and on my posting in-depth comments to her blog. That gave me a nice sales spike.

    I feel giving is the quickest way to receive. Build bonds. Get promoted. Then, factor in some paid marketing to boost downloads. As you noted boy does it help to get those books into as many hands as possible, to make the greatest impact. It’s all about the buzz.

    Thanks for the list of good paid promo sites Steve!

    Tweeting and Pinning from Bali.


  • That’s interesting you mentioned her name…she gave me a HUGE boost on one of my original books as well. I should reach out to her…it’s been a LONG time.

    You’re right about the building bonds. This is an area where I need to improve, but the little I’ve done has definitely helped!

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