ASK AN AUTHOR TIPS & FREEBIES: KDP SELECT GIVEAWAYS-- THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WASTE OF MONEY

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June 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --How do you run a successful KDP Select giveaway? You seem to always rock them. – Jennifer Gilbert

Anyone who visits my SJ Publicity Facebook page regularly can see I'm an advocate of KDP Select giveaways. There are some authors who balk at the idea of giving away free books, but I look at a free ebook as a free sample. Don't you love free samples and the people who give them out?

If someone likes that sample, maybe they'll buy the paperback or one of my other books. I also make sure there is a page in my free ebooks that lists my other novels. When a 5-day giveaway could get 30,000 to 50,000 downloads, that's a lot of free advertising for your work.

For the purposes of this column I'm going to assume everyone knows the rules of KDP Select giveaways and how to set them up. I'll give advice on how to do a successful giveaway in order of importance. This doesn't mean you can only do the first or second thing and think it's enough because they're the most important. A successful giveaway needs a big start and a big finish. Not doing everything you will result in your giveaway fizzling out partway through, leaving you in bad shape when your book returns to regular price.

The best tool for a giveaway is a BookBub ad. BookBub is far and away the best paid advertising and one of the only places that delivers consistent profit. Ads are costly but they're usually worth it. However, you'll see more success giving away a sequel than a stand alone or the first book in a series. If you don't have a series, save your money and apply for a free feature with The Midlist instead or opt for the 99 cents sale ad with BookBub and use one of your Kindle Countdown Deals.

Once you've got your BookBub or The Midlist ad set up, submit your giveaway to the free option of Freebooksy and Read Cheaply. I do not recommend paying for guaranteed features. Instead, try the no cost option for the second or third day of your giveaway. Also, submit to other sites that list giveaways for free. Lists of websites to contact can be found here and here.

One the first day of your giveaway, submit the details to the Facebook page Ebook Korner Kafe

 through their listed form. Then, start visiting Facebook groups that allow promoting free books. You need several hundred to make a difference. Instead of spending days tracking them down, you can take a look at the groups I'm a member of on Facebook and join them.

Always follow the rules, never spam other people's posts, and don't post more than once per day. Add the hashtag #free and keep your posts short. By day two your book will likely be on a free bestseller list. Mention that in your posts to give people a reason to take a chance on your book. It seems strange, but there are so many free ebooks that people won't check out yours without a good reason beyond it being free.

Tweets can help with a giveaway but you're going to need a lot of them. This doesn't mean you schedule 20 over the course of your 5-day giveaway and think you're done. I use tweet teams.

The World Literary Cafe has some great tweet teams. Members of ASMSG have access to good teams too. Learn more about both places in this previously published column. Use the teams daily and be sure to mention any best seller lists your book is on. Always include the #free hashtag, #bestseller if applicable, and keep your tweets as simple as possible (title, genre, free dates, author name, etc.).

As your giveaway starts to gain some traction, talk about it on social media. Take screenshots of your book on free best seller lists to post on Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Mention how excited you are and tag your supportive friends, but don't ask anyone to download the book and definitely don't ask for reviews at this time. It turns people off. Make it natural and post about other things too. A good rule of thumb is one post about your book to three posts about something else, such as cute cat pics, a funny anecdote, or an interesting news story.

Oh, and don't forget to sleep.

Here's what I have found is a waste of money: paying for people to tweet about your giveaway, paying $5 or $10 for someone to post something on their website or Facebook, and purchasing guaranteed features anywhere besides BookBub (though Ereader News Today used to be great and might be again).

However, I am sure there are some blogs or sites that are exceptions. It's also possible that some of today's smaller companies could grow to be the next BookBub. If you're considering a new option, do some research to learn if other authors made a profit before jumping. If all they talk about is the great “exposure” they got and not downloads, Kindle Unlimited borrows, or sales, don't try it. 

When it comes down to it, the reason my giveaways are so successful is because I put a lot of work into them. You only get to do them once every three months, and typically every time you do one it's a less effective than the one before, so put everything you have into it. It'll be worth it when you see an increase in sales afterward and a big jump in sales of earlier books in your series. 

SJ's Favorite Freebies: Thanks to KDP Select, there are almost always good books up for grabs. Some great bets that are free right now include the contemporary romance Passport to Passion by Emma Plum and the post-apocalyptic thriller Forager by Peter R Stone (free until June 11). 

Romance fans might also like Long Way Home by Neve Cottrell and Pointe of Passion by Annalie Walker, free through June 12 and June 15 respectively. I highly recommend #1 best-selling mystery author Angel Sefer's The Heiress of Santorini, free June 11-14.

What I'm reading now: Day 21 by Kass Morgan, sequel to New York Times best seller The 100, now a popular TV show.

Got questions?

Send them to Sarka-Jonae Miller through Twitter @sarkajonae, Facebook, or via her author website. Alternatively, talk to her in person at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla on June 7 from 12-4PM. More events found on her events page.

About Sarka-Jonae Miller

SJ is a local author, book marketing manager, publicist, and columnist who writes chick lit and steamy romance based in San Diego and Los Angeles. Her novels include the Between Boyfriends series and the All for You series. SJ also writes health and fitness articles for The Best Years in Life and Natural News. Check out her Between Boyfriends blog for book reviews, author interviews, episode synopses, and giveaways. Follow @sarkajonae and @sjpublicity9 on Twitter for more writing tips, book recommendations, and industry news. Get health and exercise articles from @sjnews9.