Self-Publishing: Instafreebie Errata – Tips, Tricks, Strategies
These notes from getting active on Instafreebie (and getting over 130 opt-ins in less than two weeks, starting with knowing nothing about this stuff.)
– Read and follow directions. Every. Single. Time. Fill out everything the way you want to represent yourself or your books. This is a well thought-out service. The directions are simple. Make sure you understand them and don’t assume anything. Best is to first go through the FAQs at support.instafreebie.com
– Be respectful and communicative. Add comments to everything. Treat people as you’d like to be treated. Organizers like to be thanked. Submitters like to be thanked. Leave comments when you do something, even if it’s only leaving a tweet. That tells the organizer you are working at this. Otherwise, (s)he’s going to figure that you didn’t even try. You want the organizer to even invite you to one of their later giveaways. People like nice, they hate trolls. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
– Provide at least one giveaway book for each of the genres you are writing in. At least one per pen-name. Recall that Blockbusters and Bestsellers are pan-genre – they have some of everything in them. The general strategy is to write in one pen name for each of the three physical plot structures (Mystery, Romance, Adventure.) And you write in short stories and put these up (even if they are collections in order to fit the KDP 2500 word minimum.) Just note that they are short stories in the description. Be painfully honest and transparent at everything you do. You’ll get more respect and build more trust that way.
– Your best approach with no lists is to organize and run the group giveaway. I got this from Nick Stephenson. While you’re at it, run several. Set them up months ahead, and in times where no one else is running a giveaway for your genre. There are a lot more authors than there are giveway organizers. Look over the giveaways for the genres you’ve written in (you have three genres you can assign per book) and see what any organizers are providing.
– Join as many giveaways as you can. As above, I got over 130 opt-ins in less than two weeks once I joined the giveaways. So you send it out to your list, plus Twitter and FB and Google+ and anywhere else you can, even if you don’t have much of a following. (I started with one person on my list.) And then leave a comment in the giveaway that you did something. There’s really no stigma about starting with nothing. As you build what you have, then you’ll get a lot more something to work with. This last week, I send out to my 130+ people and got 90+ to go to my webpage with all the Instafreebie giveaways on it. (OK, so 130 is no big deal? How about 60 new subscribers each week for a year? That’s 3000 for very little work personally.)
– Track your giveaways links with Bit.ly Set up a bit.ly account (free) and create a bit.ly link for each giveaway you are part of. When you add a “+” (plus sign) after the bit.ly link, you will be able to find how many times that link was accessed and when. Organizers have this data on their dashboard. Your bit.ly short link will redirect your viewers and track them for you.
– Don’t worry about genre’s you don’t write in. I do write in Contemporary, but don’t write in YA. Stick to your strengths. I do have one cosy Romance (no obvious sex in it) but the rest of my books have romance as a sub-plot. Many of the YA giveaways are very specific about this, as YA doesn’t have graphic sex in them, and the protagonist is a teenager or young adult (under 30.) Also, don’t write just one book in a genre and expect your potential readers to be satisfied. I could easily write erotica, but haven’t. I’m mastering the Romance genre before I get anywhere near erotica. But I’m getting my Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Detective chops before that. Until I have at least three books in any particular genre, I wouldn’t worry about putting one up. When you do, they’ll then look up the others in that series. (Always write in series and serials.) That is the point of these – to push sales of your other works.
– Read the requirements for the giveways you’re joining. I set up a giveaway for Christmas or Holiday themed books. The two genres were contemporary and fantasy. And constantly have people submitting everything other than a themed book. One author submitted nearly a dozen Romance novels to it, which had nothing even about winter in them. (Duh?) Now I know who that is, and her spammy practices. (Why she is giving away that many books all at once is another questionable practice. )
– Unless you are Exclusive on KDP, set your books up with Draft2Digital. Here you can auto-update links to your other books. They use Books2Read links, which then tell you how many times they are accessed. And Books2Read also creates book pages and authors pages. Your Book2Read author page can be your website page for Instafreebie, and your Instafreebie pen name can go onto your Books2Read author pages. So readers looking up your author will be sent either to your other books by that pen-name, or to free books so they can opt-in. This is exactly what happens. People look up your other books when they get a free one. And if you’re sending them via a Books2Read link, you’ll know where they went to check out that book – and preferably buy it.
– Use a Publishing Imprint instead of an author name or pen name. If you don’t want to opt for the $50/mo. Instafreebie level, then consider doing the $20 level and setting your one author name as your publishing imprint. Then put your author/pen-name in the title of the book. For me, it’s “Midwest Journal Press” and the book would be “Make Yourself Great Again by Dr. Robert C. Worstell” – see? I found a group of authors who runs under “Discover Sci-Fi” and has about 8 different authors, who are all busy writing. One (great) book collection offered was “The Fallen Empire Collection by Lindsay Buroker” I knew her from her blog and loved her books. Of course, you are then tempted to buy (sorely) as she has maybe another couple-dozen books in this and other series. The chief advantage of spending the extra bucks is to get Instafreebie’s attention and their support. You get another 4 pen-names, but as many authors can have as many as 50 pen-names during their career, this is less important – and might even get in your way. So you want to have one of those to be your publishing imprint.
– Running giveaways: be aware of too many restrictions. I’ve seen organizers force authors to go to another site to use a form to opt-in. I don’t see the reason for this. They are also asking for way too much information to make their decision. I’ve also seen people who won’t take anyone with less than 5,000 people on their lists. Look, we all have to start somewhere, so remember your roots. As well, some people are running their giveaways on a different site and using Instafreebie network to collect their authors. I’ll have to track one of these down to see what the business model is. For now, its KISS (Keep it Simple Scholar) and send people to Instafreebie so they will recommend and host your giveaways. Allow everyone and network with the ones that get the best results. Building your network with people who openhandedly help others is good advice.
– But stick to your guns in running a genre-specific giveaway. Deny books that are two off-beat. One thing I don’t need is people being run away from the giveaway by erotica or explicit material. Romance covers are all the same – half undressed people (usually male chests and six-packs.) Someone looking for SF or sword-and-sorcerer fantasy will go away if all they see is romantic covers, even if they are “romantic” fantasy (light on fantasy, heavy on romance.) This is the point of being professional and paying attention to details. Always work toward the best possible reader experience.
– How to leave blurbs. When you submit a book, it’s suggested you give a blurb. “Great cover, nice description” isn’t a useful blurb. It won’t help people get that book. You’re going to have to download their book and read it as least as much as an editor, so you can write a blurb that will help readers get that book. The trick is that you have to download the book in order to read it so you can have an opinion. So you should actually visit the books already approved, download one, read it, write a blurb. You can only leave a blurb (or several) is inside the admin page for the giveaway itself. You do this on an upcoming or current or completed giveaway. Then there is a nice page so you can see the one’s you got and the one’s you gave. Here is where you pay your karma forward. This is one of the hidden points to Instafreebie. You have to give in order to get.
– The core point of Instafreebie is networking. It’s not list-building. That’s just a side benefit. Same for increasing sales. Sure, the money is nice. The point is to build a collaborative network of fellow authors. This is a cumulative effect is exponential, not additive. Meaning that it increases well beyond just the lists numbers of the authors you add. The math goes like this: every person is able to effectively work with somewhere between 100 to 250 people (called Dunbar’s number.) When you add authors who are knowingly building their own network, then you increase your own by a factor, not just by a single person. Your work then becomes more than the joy you personally get from writing. Or the freedom of nearly unlimited passive income supporting your gifts. The point of your work is to fill and train your network so they fill and train theirs – and so on to potentially infinity. And as these networks grow, they then build by factors into a scope that is probably impossible to imagine. Yes, that last point even surprises me. Theodore Sturgeon said something like “95% of all that’s out there is crud.” The trick to author success is to focus on finding, networking with, and nurturing the 5% who are gold.
– – – –
As I then complete a few of these giveaways that I’ve organized, I’ll have more data to share with you. How to find emails, how to determine if an author is crud or gold, how to train and build your network with networkers. And I’ll share all this with you. Don’t worry, our secret is perfectly safe. Because it’s hidden in plain sight like a Purloined Letter.
– Making your free book exclusive is a good thing. If you’re following the steps I’ve been taking through the Great Fiction Writing Challenge, you’ve seen that I haven’t gone into paid ads anywhere as a first action. Because its a bit of a crap shoot. And most of these plans are Amazon-centric and revolve around your “free days” every 90 days. On the books I’ve put up there, they are full price elsewhere, but can be gotten for free through Instafreebie. And so they are marked “Exclusive” with a free red banner on top of the book cover image. So your book stands out on any giveaway. Simple, yes? The only two books I have that are free everywhere (out of more than a dozen) aren’t exclusive. My books show up as exclusive in every giveaway they are entered in. Nice.
– Updated Emails per EU laws is another good thing. This recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has made Instafreebie require that you not automatically make people give you their emails. You still can, but your giveaway won’t be featured on the site. Before this, Instafreebie had a note that enforcing opt-ins would result in higher complaints and unsubscribes. Frankly, I don’t see why you would, anyway. Last time I checked, I was getting nearly 40% opt-in from all these downloads. And again, with books2read links updated by Draft2Digital, these ebooks are all linked into all other related books and so are promotion pieces by themselves. And they also have opt-in links in there. This is simple good promotion. I’ll let you know more about the efficacy of these opt-ins over the next few weeks.
– Giving Blurbs is limited. 1) You can’t blurb your own books. 2) You can only blurb an “author” once – meaning that if you have several books by the same “author”, you can only blurb one of them. 3) You can only (apparently) blurb an author who is in the same giveaway as you are. “Author” is any pen-name. So someone who is going the less expensive route of having a single publisher imprint that covers several authors, only one of those actual authors can get a blurb from another instafreebie account. The Pro version has 5 pen names and so in theory they would have 5 chances to get blurbs from a single other account. This is one area which could definitely be improved, since blurbs show up on the giveaway pages (as I understand it.) Again, don’t leave “Nice cover. Great description.” as a blurb, as you’re wasting a great networking opportunity.
– Getting Your Subscribers Auto-Enrolled Is Simple. But I had to ask support to find it. Every single book can go to its own mailing list. This is set when you enter a book. (Of course, sometimes I forgot and those subscribers just sat there.) And this is good for having multiple pen names under the Pro plan. (You’re going to have to manually import your subscribers under the free plan.) But you can also set a default list for everything, which works if you don’t specify anything for that particular book. On your dashboard page, click on your name and click the Settings link. Then click on Mail Service Integrations to find it. Works good.
– Getting Granular Email Data on Subscribers. You can get what book and what giveaway people join your list for. It’s all there in Instafreebie for a manual download. But I asked how to make it automatic and got this reply:
To have this information appear when subscribers are automatically sent to Mailerlite, you’ll have to add columns for this information in your subscriber list on Mailerlite. You’ll have to add the following fields, and then you should see that information filled when they are sent to MailerLite. Add columns for ‘Book Title’ and ‘Giveaway.’ The merge tags in MailerLite will look like $book_title, and $giveaway. If you want he can also add Genre (merge tag $genre), and Source (merge tag $source). Genre is book genre, and source will always be Instafreebie.
The obvious benefit is to send special emails to those people who liked that pen name, or if that pen name co-authors with another one. After awhile, you can also see which books do best for you and which type of giveaways do best, etc. Tailoring emails to those type of subscribers is what email is all about – building relationships.
– Running A/B Tests on Giveaway Descriptions. Maybe you could improve your description and get more downloads. An A/B test seems a smart move to compare which description converts best. Half get one and half get the other. Currently, only the giveaway organizer can run these, and on any book there in addition to his own. Maybe you want to offer this as a service for people during your giveaway. At least run it on your own.
– Getting Instafreebie to Recommend Your Giveaway. Don’t know how I overlooked this, until I came back to this page as my own go-to reference and found it missing. Here’s part of an email I got from the wonderful people at Instafreebie Support:
We have our own personal guidelines when it comes to group giveaways which helps us select our featured ones:
At least 10 unique Authors participating
Authors should have their own accounts to protect their content and protect readers
Group Giveaway is free for authors to join
Final image graphic to share must be book/genre/author focused, and 1500px by 500px (length by height)
Final duration dates of promotion should be displayed on the graphic/page
In accordance with our Community Guidelines, final image graphic may not include graphic nudity (the Instafreebie staff reserves the right to reject any image graphic at our discretion)
Instafreebie Group Giveaway must be live for a minimum of 3 days after the date of the feature
Instafreebie Group Giveaway Details Page link (link should begin with “instafreebie.com/
groupgiveaway/view“) and graphic must be sent a week minimum before your feature date
In terms of the start day of a group giveaway, we haven’t looked too much into this. But, a common trend among organizers is to start giveaways on the first day of the month or on a Sunday. If you want to be featured by Instafreebie, I would generally recommend starting on a Sunday and ending on a Tuesday. This is because we feature group giveaways on our homepage from Monday until the Monday of the next week regardless of the day it is featured in our newsletter.
– Leeches in Giveaways. That’s someone who is only there for the ride, to get claims without doing anything. Only the organizer can see these. The current giveaway I’m running has just under 30% actually promoting. Adding in those who promote but get no claims (not technically leeching) you wind up just over 21% (And one such leech was a group of professional authors who have banded together to promote their books. Whoever is doing their promotion is faking it.) The way around this is to collect the email addresses of your participating authors. Some do this with an Google form on the description. I’d prefer to set out a reader magnet (like a free course, my current plans) that will then get their email when they sign up. Offer value first.
Since this is running close to the Pareto Principle, you can’t just get some resentment going and back up into just being a control freak and limiting who can join to “only those with big lists.” Again, everyone has to start somehow. And the more books you have in the giveaway, the more people are likely to click on something.
– Leechers as Organizers. I’ve mentioned the organizer “control freaks” above. Add to this the people who insist you pay them for the opportunity to join their giveaway (money or your email address.) Truly, truly dumb. They are leeching off the Instafreebie platform. Because if you don’t see a giveaway you’d like to join, the solution is always to start your own giveaway and run it the way you want it. See the points on limits above. Same for people who use Instafreebie to then collect submissions they run on a different platform. Of course, they don’t get recommended by Instafreebie and miss out. Kinda like taking your playmates and toys to go to your own small and exclusive sandbox. You just miss out on potential friends and networking opportunities. And I simply avoid those “limiter” organizers. Not worth my time.
The main point is to keep these as open as possible and realize that 20% are going to give you 80% of your claims. People who try to suck the life out of the giveaway, or those who don’t contribute, all have their own problems. Work out how to reward the productive individuals and form a team with them. You have to give before you can get – and always give openhandedly (not expecting anything in return.) The object is to really enjoy your business activities as much as you enjoy writing and publishing. Stay away from leechers as you can, but also live and let live.
– How To Get Yourself Blacklisted. Leechers are those who blatantly or quietly don’t contribute to the mutual-trust environment of Instafreebie. Sure, you don’t have to join the giveaways that are run by control freaks, or are out to monetize the Instafreebie platform. But when organizing your giveaways, you can quickly compile lists of people who aren’t doing anything to promote, but have a lot of books there. The worst offender on my current giveaway has 7 books there and has done diddly-squat promotion. Meanwhile, they pulled down nearly 10 percent of the total claims.
Does this mean that others would get more claims if they weren’t there? Maybe. Pointing it out to them broadly is one way to put attention on it. Now I see why people want a simple form filled out so they can contact authors directly off-line. It would make the administration smoother, since there is no DM to use on this site, and you can’t get emails from them.
When I get a few of these under my belt, I’ll have a short list of repeat offenders to watch for, and even block. These will be by name, giveaway, date, etc. That particular account that has 7 books up there might get some action. When they are taking 10% of the total, and are the top claimed books, then would this “cut off my nose to spite my face”?
Regardless, I’ll have my list…
– When a Group Giveaway Falls Flat… I found myself surprised by a giveaway that had a short lead time and only myself and one other actually put any books into it. (I was under several pen-names.) So I made lemonade of out it. The solution was to do extra promotion for it, syndicating it out to social media via Buffer on a daily basis and changing the description to say that I would be adding more books every single day, while pointing up the idea that the giveaway was only running for 10 days. I’m also changing the graphic every day with a count-down. The test has a bit to run, but it should do fine. I also told my list to give me any requests for any book I had published and I’d put it in the giveaway. So that helped out.
And I found out that sending just to people who were clicking through (something that was difficult to find out on my earlier email provider) gave me a very good response. Even when the clicks weren’t working (as something was wrong with my new provider.)
– Amazon Continues to Hardball Indie Authors. Three books I had weren’t selling on Amazon and I had them also as giveaways on Instafreebie. I wanted to try a test of Draft2Digital to get their updating service working. Taking just these books off Amazon, and putting them onto D2D, I waited days (instead of hours) to get some word back – only to find that Amazon wouldn’t accept those books as they were “freely available elsewhere.” No, I wasn’t trying to get them into KDP Select. My most polite reaction was: “what a bunch of jerks.” Actually, bullies is more accurate. Lesson is to get them up on KDP directly or through an aggregator before you make them available on Instafreebie. None of my other books have been affected. No other book outlet cares two whits if they are somewhere else.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I can’t republish them as a part of a collection, later. At this writing, the books are all “Live” again, since they had been in KDP prior, so don’t have to be reviewed to be re-published (apparently.) So they have a double-standard for aggregators. (Not such a big surprise, is it?)
News: Amazon re-approved those three overnight – some 6 hours later. Go figure.
– Aggregating Author Names with a Google Form. I’d seen this otherwise. People enforcing getting email addresses from people in order to join their giveaway – along with data like size of list and book data. Always irritated me, as it was punishing people for being starting authors with no list. But checking with Support (who are always very wonderful native English speakers) confirmed that they couldn’t give out email addresses and I was on my own to contact them. Other than opting into their list via claiming their book. I then tried out Google Forms, found them simple to set up (and even being alerted when someone filled it out.) So I put this as a free optional form in the description of my giveaway. I’ll keep adding to this list and eventually have one that is all authors that I can contact about joining giveaways. (Separately from that, I have a list someone had sent out to their project people, who’d also given their address. Because they sent it from their gmail account with all the people added as CC’s instead of BCC’s or blind carbon copy. Probably do a trial mailing to these to see if they are interested.)
The point is that if you treat people nicely, then you’ll get a nice response. Force them to do something and the effect is “they’ll run away just as long as you are chasing.”
Put this link at the top of your giveaways as a non-required option. And then put it in your comments of every giveaway on the last day, both the one’s you’re running and the one’s your part of. The people who raise their hands are the ones you want. They are the most active ones, and the ones who probably have good lists. What you won’t get are the leechers, the get-rich-quick crowd. And that is where private giveaways get started that get great results. That’s real networking.
– Analyzing Your Subscribers for Best Books. This is a bit tricky, but more straightforward than you might think. By taking your total Instafreebie subscriber list, you can see which books and which giveaways gave you the best result. Of course, you may have several books on offer in any giveaway, but the ones you see were the first where they opted in to your list. But that will get you started.
The variables are that some giveaways are promoted better by the authors and Instafreebie than others. The reasons are various. Comparing those giveaways with each other will tell you a lot. (See my other post on this – click here.)
By downloading your complete list and opening it up in a spreadsheet, you can start by finding which of your books and which giveaways are best. Then make sure that you are part of any giveaway like this. If no one is offering one, then start these up yourself. You should have your books in all possible giveaways at all times. Better than this is to have your best-claimed books in the best possible giveaways by genre. Cross comparing your completed giveaways with your subscribers will start giving you broad hints about where to test next.
Note: Those blank lines in the spreadsheet where a giveaway should be? You need to go in and set a name for your first giveaway. A blank line means there is no name present.
– Preliminary Results of Giveaway Analyses: Average length right now tends to be about 25 days on giveaways. This summer has a lot of two-week giveaways. But a handful of two-month giveaways are pulling the length back. In general, get your books everywhere they belong, the more the better. Then make sure you actually contribute to all the giveaways to join. I have a page of giveaways, all with Bitly-shortened links so I can see which are pulling. This shows they mainly compete on the quality of their banners. Having a long lead time for giveaways seems to get more books entered. Right now, it seems that putting them out about three months in advance seems a useful investment. How much you want to deal with giveaways will determine how much you want to invest in these. The general rule is to always have one of your own giveaways running, and joining in all the giveaways you can. Meanwhile, collect emails from authors to invite them to yours. (Maybe a useful gift?)
– Verified Organizers and Giving Value. It’s not hard to create giveaways. Running them should be a regular give and take between you and your authors. Again, it goes back to treating people as you’d like to be treated. Becoming a verified organizer is a great label to have. Like “exclusive” on your book, it gives authors another reason to opt-in to your giveaway. One thing Instafreebie looks for is interaction between the organizer and the authors. And giving value is another way to help your authors learn through this process and build up their own list. As well, they will trust you to give you their email address. If that weren’t enough, you have the option of enabling the readers to join your list as well as the authors!
One suggestion would be to take each of these hints above and suggest them in the comments box every few days to help your authors out. And a parting gift (like an instafreebie non-fiction ebook) as a permanent link in the content would probably be a good touch…
– Related Email List Tips. While Instafreebie is great for getting giveaway lovers, our trick is to do careful gardening of our crop to weed out those that aren’t wanted. Because once you pass the limit on your free list, you’re paying to send out emails to these people. Whether they open anything or not. It may seem counterintuitive to be removing people from your list weekly (kinda like spending months on a novel only to give it away.) What you don’t want is people who sign up and never open anything. Or later, they quit opening your stuff. Now I can see where people get busy, so this is what I’ve set up on Mailerlite that I work with weekly:
I set up a segment that has a) anyone who has gotten 5 or more emails from me and never opened anything, and b) anyone who hasn’t opened up an email in the last 90 days. That segment auto-updates regularly, so I have an accurate recount every few hours.
I send out a short email entitled “Still Interested?” and a short explanation that will show up in their email header that starts: “…I noticed you haven’t opened anything we’ve sent you recently…” There is an unsubscribe link on the line immediately after that (which is there to avoid jerks complaining that I’m sending spam.) And then I tell them how I understand completely if they don’t want to hear from me.
If they open it, they stay on the list. If not, I delete them. Note – I don’t unsubscribe them, as it might keep them from signing up in the future. Just delete them.
That keeps the list clean and active. It raises my percentage of opens and clicks.
People are savvy these days. They know when someone is wasting their time with click-baity emails. So I always send something valuable and useful to them. And if they are too busy to unsubscribe, I do it for them. It’s the idea of having 1000 true fans, the ones that will open (and buy) anything you ask them to. A thousand hyper-active fans is worth as much as the 1% of a 10,000 name list who do. But you can mail to a thousand people for free, and pay a lot to mail to 10,000 each week.
Email hygiene saves you money and reputation.
– How to Mail Out Multiple Giveaways. Let your list decide what they want. I put up a page entitled “Free Books” and list all the active giveaways on it. New ones close to the top. My own giveaways at the very top. (Right below my “featured books of the week.”) Then my weekly newsletter – just to the people who came in from giveaways – goes out with a link to that page (and my latest release – both as bitly-shortened links.) I may be in 20 giveaways simultaneously. And several will have truly lousy graphics or none. But the best ones will attract the most, regardless of where they are on the page. Longer-running ones will eventually gravitate to the bottom. Update every week, usually on a Monday, and send it out. While maybe not as effective as just sending it to a single giveaway, it helps all of them a little bit. Bitly links show me how many clicks I got that went where. I customise the name on every Bitly link so that I can see which giveaway it pointed to.
That fulfills any promise to “mail to your list”.
– Using Buffer to Do Social Media. I’m no fan of social media. I’d rather be writing, publishing, or researching. I’ve spent hours with nothing to show for it, and then quit most of these platforms completely. Other than syndicating my content out. I don’t really care if anyone “follows” me. I use it more as a way to leverage all the valuable content I’m publishing otherwise (and I’ve gone over this many places on this blog.) Buffer (and probably HootSuite) are good for simple sending out the same content to different platforms from a single interface. For me, this is Facebook, Twitter, G+. Because Instagram and Pinterest depend on different graphics going up, and my use is to promote giveaways. Sending once a day keeps you on the free Buffer account limits. (Since I always log out of Facebook when I leave them, using a 3rd-party app limits the amount of data they can scrape from me.)
My approach is this:
- Don’t “engage,” syndicate.
- Use one interface only.
- Don’t pay to use free platforms. (“If it’s free, you are the product.”)
– Uses of Pen Names and Imprints. I’ve seen a lot and tested a lot. And what I don’t see many people using is pen names. I got this originally from a couple of sources, but Geoff Shaw recommends this for starting authors. Because you are going to be improving as you go, and if your early stuff might embarrass you later, then use another name. While Instafreebie allows you to have up to five pen names at their Pro level, most beginning authors are struggling to pay their lowest paid level of $20 per month. The work around for this is to have the name there be your publishing imprint (like “Midwest Journal Press”) and then the individual books can be “[Title] by [Author]”.
The trade off is that when other authors/imprints are giving you blurbs, they can only do one per account to another account. Having three or four books up by any given pen name will give you only one blurb for all the pen names you use under that imprint. No big deal, usually.
One advantage to the Pro Version is that I can submit books by all five pen names to that one giveaway, and they show up as separate entities. When I promote, the giveaway organizer sees my actual account name, which doesn’t line up to any of the pen names. But again, I see very few people using pen names at all, let alone figuring out the “imprint” strategy. I got it from one consortium of authors who has someone promoting for them and entering these giveaways on their behalf.
The overall advantage to pen names is using them to separate your genres. Also, the different universes/world-views you are writing in. While you can also set up several Instafreebie accounts with separate email addresses, this is a limited approach due to the differences between services that Instafreebie provides for free and paid users. More than one account would quickly run through anyone’s budget. (But right now, this is all as a series of tests. Obviously, two accounts can blurb each other, but that is pretty limited as I mention above.)
– Why “No Limits” Gets You More – Everything. I’m a great one for mastering the “firehose” approach to content. This extends to giveaways as well. The ones I hate to join are the “control freaks” who want to enforce that you do the giveaway their way or else. Sure, there are Leechers who don’t actually promote the giveaway. And it might be that only 20% of all your authors are actually producing the claims. (Meaning that maybe 50% of the books up there are being downloads and subscribed to for doing nothing.) But look at it this way: You’re building great karma (and the others, well…)
The point of No Limits Approach is to help others as you’d like to be helped. Again, building karma open-handedly. The more restrictive you make your giveaway, the fewer people will join in on it. Of course, we always can’t just do Romance/Erotica or Fantasy/ScienceFiction giveaways. That gets boring real quick. As you complete giveways, you start building a track record of where your books have produced well. And that gives you an idea of what type of giveaways you want to mirror. And new combinations of genres and inspired themes you want to try.
You’ll also see that when a person limits their giveaways to just 10 or 30 books, they are limiting the amount of authors who can join. And so, are limited to the possible amount of people they can reach. Same goes for restrictive forms that “must” be filled out before your book can be “accepted.” The more hoops you have to jump through, the less likely you are to do anything.
This also applies to how long you set your giveaway into the future. If you only give people a couple of weeks, you might only have a few books. Give them a couple of months, and they’ll trickle in and keep filling. The most successful giveaways I’ve been part of so far had well over a hundred books submitted. See how that works?
Until next time…
PS. Reading between the lines above, you can see that I’m intending to build an ebook and course around the “best practices” I’m aggregating. Stay tuned to this page, as I’ll link these when they go into beta.
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Also published on Medium.