Self-Publishing: The Real Leverage of Book Giveaways – Instafreebie
If you’ve been following Nick Stephenson (or bought his course) you’ll know that he got his start by networking with other authors on giveaways and box sets. Networking – remember that. Networking is leverage. Leverage means more subscribers, more sales, more income.
Instafreebie is a simple way to do this.
Mark Dawson (also one of Stephenson’s networked authors) lays out the basics of this:
“[A] very effective way of making this work more efficiently is for one of the authors, or an author, to say to maybe nine other authors in their genre.
So let’s say that I’m doing sci-fi and I say to nine other sci-fi authors that I know, ‘I’ve got an InstaFreebie giveaway, would you like to also put a book up. I’ll host a page on my website where all of those covers will be available and readers will be able to click on those images and they’ll then go through to instaFreebie where they can then download their free book.’
The real juice from that is when all of the authors agree that they’ll share that page with their list. If I’ve got 1,000 people on my list, obviously that’s a great start but if my other nine collaborators also have 1,000, suddenly I’m 10 timesing my reach to readers who are more likely to like the kinds of books that I’m writing.”
That’s the point of Instafreebie in a nutshell.
You can offer potential subscribers books that they would be interested in and then they opt-in to your list. If they like your books, then they can keep getting emails directly from you.
And since you are in a giveaway with other authors of the same genre, you get more authority as an author regardless of how many years (or months) you’ve been at this game.
The trick, as I’ve cover earlier, is to build a backlist first and then start promoting it. Otherwise, you can start from the get-go with Instafreebie. (I do recommend you thoroughly lay your habits in on writing and reading daily before you start getting in your promotion habit. A logical sequence that works out. I cover the intersection between Draft2Digital and your backlist below. And D2D plus Instafreebie is a match made in heaven for book discovery…)
Where I am at right now is having 15 fiction books published under 3 pen names in addition to the 70+ books I’ve published as author or editor as non-fiction. The current test is fiction against my years of work publishing non-fiction. And I’ve spent a few months already working at getting my writing and reading habit ironed in.
Once I got the decks cleared and the dust settled, I could start promoting on fiction for real.
Once I got into Instafreebie, I saw that this isn’t just for fiction, but is mostly used for this. And so I can now generate subscribers for my other books as well in the genres of self-improvement, authorship, and business.
What I cover below can work for both fiction and non-fiction.
The FAQs for Instafreebie
Suggests using Calibre for conversion. https://support.instafreebie.com/article/196-converting-your-file-to-an-epub
The other better option is to use Draft2Digital, which has much wider support for styles.
Then bring it back and clean it up in Calibre (the Edit Book icon.)
The four steps I always take to check every single book:
- Clean up CSS (some rare times, this is a culprit, and D2D leaves a lot of CSS styles in there which aren’t necessary. The smaller the file you have, the less likely things to go wrong, plus Amazon won’t charge you as much for “shipping.”
- Clean up HTML (fixes anything that doesn’t work right, anywhere in the ebook.)
- Beautify all files (makes it easier to find things and edit them.)
- Run check for errors (built-in epub check.)
When you send D2D epubs to other aggregators, they all want any link removed except one to your own site. They don’t like D2D links, unless D2D put them there. (And iTunes doesn’t even like you talking about competitors.) This is another good reason to let D2D port your ebook everywhere possible (excepting Amazon.)
There is a Mailerlite integration guide https://support.instafreebie.com/article/219-mailerlite-faq
This is available on the Plus plan. Otherwise, on the free plan you have to download and manually add your subscribers on your own.
Note that you can set up groups in Mailerlite for each pen name you have to keep these separate. My workaround at this point is to create a group for my publishing imprint so that this then alerts to all new releases through Midwest Journal Press, so this is all pen names and my non-fiction as well. Monthly newsletter also could cover when I do background work, such as specials, or make bundles of books available, etc. Later I’ll make groups for beta readers, course testers, etc.
This is reallly everything they can think you’ll need to get started. This is different than their FAQ pages (https://support.instafreebie.com/category/181-commonly-asked-questions), which are just the common questions.
Know that you have an author page for every pen name (on the Pro Plan you can have up to five.) Set up the bio and a link to wherever you can display all your books. This is usually a web page, (like your Blogger blog or other) and can even be Books2Read.com with their new author and book pages.
Customize Your Claim Pages
This is a nice way to let your readers know you care about them. There’s not a lot to do here, but it wraps up your pages nicely. Note that you only can have a single claim page for all your pen names. I put my publishing imprint here, so that they are all under one roof.
Instafreebie Starter Kit
Once you get all the basics in, then these steps are highly recommended.
Essentially, this walks you through getting a book uploaded and then making it available as an offer. To join group giveaways, you have to have the book uploaded to Instafreebie, but you don’t have to have it available for everyone. The pages on Giveaways (https://support.instafreebie.com/article/179-giveaway-101) tells you al about the types of giveaways – outreach, private, and custom. Study this before you join other giveaways.
Joining Group Giveaways
Essentially, this is a must. As many as possible, as a general rule. The point is Heinlein’s last rule, which is to always keep your story on sale – this means discoverability. And Instafreebie is a key way to keep all your books discoverable. Because you at least want free books out there so they find your other ones. Follow through the steps of getting your books into all possible giveaways.
See the points below on Draft2Digital and their unlimited book referrals through every book you publish with them. Use their ebook versions to upload to Instafreebie to ensure your backmatter allows them to find your books. Also, you book should always have a direct opt-in both front and back so people can simply opt-in directly to your mailing list.
Rolling Your Own Group Giveaway
Once you get the hang of submitting your various ebooks to the various giveaways, then the next step is to get your own giveaway going. This will tell you a lot about marketing your book and is a key way to network with other authors.
The whole point of Giveaways is to build subscriber lists. And this is where you make your monthly investment in Instafreebie pay off. The point is to dive in and start joining giveaways and also to create group giveaways of your own.
Verified Organizer Giveaways.
This isn’t well laid out, and is only approved on an individual basis. At the bottom of that page is a link to a form to fill out. Essentially, this is someone who is well-established and contributing to the Instafreebie network, with lots of books there and lots of giveaways created.
The essential benefits are to give greater control over email lists. Most of these are double-edged swords, but can build your own list rapidly (although you’ll have to build real trust with these and do careful hygiene to weed out the no-openers.) Here’s their description:
“Group Giveaways that are run by a Verified Organizer may have special requirements for participating authors. These Group Giveaways allow the Verified Organizer to specify how readers are opted in to the mailing lists of Author Team members. Verified Organizers can choose whether readers are required to opt in to Author Team mailing lists, or if all giveaways created for this Group Giveaway will be optional opt-in. They can also choose whether or not readers will be required to opt in to their own list of readers. “
Refer and Earn Program
When you go all-in on this program, as I have, this is a key point to lower your monthly costs. By getting people to sign up for Instafreebie, you drop your own costs for a little bit, for a little while. So this is ongoing promotion on your part.
Since Instafreebie has been number-crunched to be the most efficient way of getting new subscribers (costing less than Facebook Ads), then they become a regular weekly/monthly work on your part to build your own subscriber list.
The general plan would be to have your books as part of a giveaway (one per pen-name, at least) every single month of the year. And probably run 4-6 giveaways of your own during that time as well.
Having No List is No Problem
Sure, you are expected to promote to all your list to get subscribers for everyone. And since no one can tell what you email to others (without being on your list) then this is basically an honor-based platform. Obviously, if you could you would. The more you pay to Instafreebie, the more they want to help you by promoting your giveaways. Every week, they send out a newsletter telling about the giveaways. And they promote through their app as well (which of course, you should recommend…)
The Added Cost of Multiple Pen Names
The Great Fiction Challenge approach is to have multiple pen names with a backlist for each. So each pen name should have an “outreach” giveaway that shows up on the author page and is perennially available. (Yes, you can change this out at any time.) In addition to that, you put up a couple or few more that you can use to put into various giveaways.
This brings you into the upper range of what Instafreebie supports. 50 bucks a month to get 5 pen names. One is your own, obviously. Great for non-fiction. And I’d suggest three pen names where you can take three genres to master them, using your stories by each pen name to concentrate on on one each. You could take the physical plot structures (Romance, Mystery-Detective, Adventure) to master these forms. Or just work up a set of stories for a particular genre you like to read and then concentrate on getting these stories as good as you can.
The reason for pen-names is also to excuse your earliest work. Your later work will always be better, as you are constantly working to improve every story better than the last. So if a particular pen name has gotten no sales, you could simply start over.
But You Only Get Five At a Time
Probably because no one knows that this is the way to success. Unfortunately, the truly prolific authors will use dozens and dozens of different pen names during their career. Particularly in genre fiction, where the emphasis is on particular audience expectations rather than a writing style. Boilerplate romance novels are like this.
Instafreebie is useful, because you can change out your pen names if one isn’t working for you. You even have a one-time option to get a permanent url for a given pen name. But I’d suggest (obviously) that you don’t. Because it’s permanent, and won’t change after that. Once you have a brand, great. Until then, you can change out your pen name specifics all you want. Right now, I have all five taken, although one is just starting out. Non-fiction, Humor (Satire/Parody), Fantasy, ScienceFiction, Mystery-Detective. And that prompts me to get back into writing daily, every day. Then using the rest of my time to get publishing and promotion done (other than my nightly reading and watching TV series.)
But with that amount of investment going out every month, I’m prompted to get a lot more out of Instafreebie when I do.
Draft2Digital and Instafreebie Interface
There was a great announcement this last week. D2D set up author and book pages. They did this through their Books2Read.com site. How to use these is well described through videos on their blog. https://www.draft2digital.com/blog/introducing-author-pages-and-book-tabs/
It’s all about improving discoverability.
“Having a central place to send readers, where they can learn more about you and find all of your work, is a critical part of any author marketing strategy. D2D Author Pageswill give you a single platform, where readers can find out more about you, and find all of your books. We’ve crafted a beautifully designed layout that includes:
- Your author bio
- Your author photo
- Links to your social media accounts
- Customizable page elements to help promote your book to readers
- A button that readers will be itching to click, to follow you for new release notifications or to join your mailing list, pointing to the list signup tool of your choice
- Carousels of your books and series, so readers can easily find your work!”
Along with Instafreebie, these two platforms are well suited to help each other. While Draft2Digital will send emails to readers (and you can access those email addresses) you can also connect author pages directly to Instafreebie so that these will go right through their lines. Not the same as the link in the back of your book that D2D builds for you, but once you have that Instafreebie opt-in link, you can start using it inside your book for that author.
We’ve covered above that you should let D2D auto-update your ebook for you with links to all your books. And you should periodically update your books on Instafreebie so that the readers then get the best access to your back titles.
As well, you now have book pages for every book through D2D (more correctly, through Books2Read) and these also cross link to your author pages for every author. On that author page, they have a carousel for all the other books that you’ve listed through B2R – regardless of whether you published them through D2D. Very nice.
You want to build your books through Draft2Digital if they are original works or you are publishing original works for someone else. And regardless of where you published them first, having Books2Read process your link will then make you a book and author page that you can customize.
Interestingly, you can even take someone else’s books (like Patterson) and then send people through your Amazon or iTunes or Barnes&Noble link for a nice little referral fee as a fan… I’m more interested in doing this for classic public domain books – like this author page I set up for Jack London books (https://books2read.com/ap/RDENzn/Jack-London)
Notes and Links:
Instafreebie isn’t for Kindle Select/Unlimited Books. Having Kindle-centric books reportedly means you can’t even sell the book through your own site (unless your sales page only has that Kindle link on it – but even then…) You can only give away books during your “free days” and so you can realistically just set the time for that giveaway for those five days every 90. And it’s probably not worth it. Better would be to giveaway another book that isn’t in Select. (Or just skip Select altogether.)
Mark Dawson’s January 2017 interview with Ashley Durrer of Instafreebie (podcast with PDF transcript) is available here: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-48/
Katherine Hayton from Alliance of Independent Authors set up a nice review on November 2016 where Instafreebie was giving her much more engaged subscribers to her list, with very few opt-out’s. https://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-marketing-with-instafreebie/
Elicia Hyder posted on August 2016 about her experiences with Instafreebie. She gives a comparison about how its much cheaper than FB Ads, plus you can start building your own BookBub with a very responsive list. http://www.howtopublishfiction.com/instafreebie-newest-rage-reach-new-readers/
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Also published on Medium.