Self-Publishing: Recap of the First Free Book Promo I Did and What I Learned from It

The promo was a success considering how I advertised it and what it did to my readership. 58 people downloaded my book, and I got to a ninth position on Amazon’s best sold free, humorous fantasy books, yay. The promo ran three days from Wednesday to Friday. But there is a twist. I will let you know about it after I have gone over what I did and what my sales were like before the promo and what now.

So I got 58 people to download my book and hopefully read it one sunny day or rainy, I’m not that picky. Only a few of those were my friends (two). I acquired the rest through Twitter, this blog, Goodreads humour club, and through the contacts my husband has at the indie game developer circles. Those were my basic advertisement channels. Also, I’m attending a Discworld book club, and I mentioned the free promo to one of my new friends there. He posted it on a general channel. I had asked him not to as I’m there as a Terry Pratchett fan, but he asked nicely, and I said yes go ahead. The conclusion from my marketing is that being nice, using existing channels, and with a little effort, you can triple your readership. I’m satisfied. I didn’t do Bookbub or other similar sites/services, but at some point, I must try them out. They are costly but effective I have heard.

I wrote that my readership tripled. Here are the statistics before the promo. I had sold 14 books and people had read 1851 pages through Kindle Unlimited, making it around 6,5 readers. With the free promo my I grew my readership a lot, making me happy. The amount of work I did was posting once a notice about the free promo to the Goodreads’ group, one mention at the book club (not done by me), posted a blog post here, mentioned it three times on Twitter (the third one was to thank those who downloaded it already and reminded it was the last day to get it,) and my husband posted the free promo (in his own words) once to three game dev channels on discord. Polite advertising works. But wait, here comes the twist or the iik part as I like to call it.

The iik is where I have learning to do. I got my first review on Goodreads and it was two stars. Ouch. (Breathe in and out, in and out.) I did some digging (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this to you, I would be hiding under my table, pretending I’m a cat.) I wanted to know why two stars, I will never truly know as contacting a reviewer is stupid, bad, and unforgivable, but I went to see what his bookshelf is like, and I understood where we went wrong. There was a whole bunch of highly rated urban fantasy vampire books and mine couldn’t be further from them. (My next book has a minor vampire character which is purely a coincidence. Still, it makes me smile… a little.) Of course, I won’t know for sure why the two stars, but I can only hope that to be the reason. But all this wouldn’t be as “bad” (this can’t be bad? I’m alive, I still have my limbs, lost a few hairs, but no worries,) if I had buffer reviews from beta readers and others who had enjoyed my book. I had to learn the hard way the importance of initial reviews. Of course, there will be those who give you two stars, but they don’t matter as long as you have a right audience reading and liking your work.

This wasn’t a nice lesson to learn. The two red stars are staring at me and tormenting me. Luckily they are not on Amazon or they would mortify me (I’m alive, I’m alive, have all my stubby little fingers, I have my cats, my husband, and the woods. All is fine.) Beta readers are important. You should (I should) have several them stored to be used. So at least two of them would want to give you a review. There is also the minor benefit of getting feedback from second, third, or sixth eyes on your novel, but that is just meh compared to stars, lots of stars. (Have they invented the irony button yet?) (I had a few beta readers but they don’t use Goodreads or Amazon.) All this was also a reminder of the importance of the right audience. Don’t do marketing to all. Do marketing to those who might enjoy your book.

Okay, one issue needs to be addressed before I’m done. Why I don’t have other initial reviews? There are two reasons. First, because of my shyness and fear, fear that comes from my dyslexia. Fear of giving my text to strangers to be judged. Second, because I don’t want my relatives and friends to give me stars. They couldn’t give me less than four stars and thus making it bullshit. And those things make the two stars horrible. What if I’m bad? If you enjoyed my book, help me wipe that two stars out of my mind and give me a review and if you didn’t enjoy, tell me why, so I can get better. I’m not quitting. I have to go on despite the madness of it all.

Thank you for reading!

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