8 April 2017

#Marketing: Sowing The Seeds via #Instafreebie

A version of this post featured on the Hornsea Writers blog 01 April 2017

Pilgrim of the Pool, the final novel in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy is finished. Except it’s not. As anticipated last week, I am still working my way through the Line Edits, sorting the easy points on the hoof, listing those which need deliberation. But that's not all I'm doing. Alongside I've been keeping a weathered eye on associated topics, one of which is marketing. 

I've run a Newsletter for years. I try to make it chatty and relevant, with varying degrees of success. Despite having my Newsletter sign-up prominent on my website [eyes right >>>] and at the front and back of my digital and print books, new subscribers are few and far between. When Inboxes are brimming with content, how do you persuade readers to join your Newsletter? You offer something to whet their reading appetites.

I came across Instafreebie mentioned in a forum and after doing my own research - always do your own research - I decided to give it a go.

My page at https://instafreebie.com/free/siNsp


The premise is to offer a “freebie” – short story, novella or even a novel – as an inducement for readers to sign up It’s up to the writer to keep them from unsubscribing by sending a short series of welcoming Newsletters with carrots attached. Think: what’s in it for the reader? Once readers become used to receiving your Newsletter emails and you’ve proved you aren’t going to waste their time, they are more likely to stay with you when moved to your monthly/quarterly Newsletter routine.

Instafreebie.com is free for readers to join, or, if responding directly to a link to a particular book, they don’t have to join Instafreebie, just input their name and e-address into the linked book page: see the above image of the page for my own “freebie”. Once the choice of format is selected the ebook will be delivered via the reader’s email in very short order, complete with instructions on how to email or side-load the ebook to their e-reading device.

For authors, Instafreebie is also free to join. Once signed up I received a dashboard to which I uploaded my chosen title – it has to be in ePub format – which is used as a master for delivering the ebook in all or any formats: mobi, ePub, or pdf. Rather like uploading an ebook to a distributor, genre and keywords are chosen to make it easier for readers searching the site to find your title.

The site collects the e-addresses of all readers who download the ebook, and these can be manually copied or downloaded via a csv file, the usual method of collecting lists. Instafreebie allots a link for each title to be used by the author for publicity. For instance, mine is sitting as a pinned Tweet in my Twitter feed.

As I already have a Newsletter I decided to sign up for the $20 a month Plus Account on a 30-day trial (there is no request for payment facilities on sign-up). This enables the e-addresses of readers to be sent directly into my account at Mailchimp, my Newsletter distributor. Beware: not using a verified Newsletter distributor, and instead using your own email client, is considered spamming and your email client could close your account to protect itself from falling foul of international laws.

Instafreebie has its own author forum where authors connect via genre for cross-promotion opportunities for more visibility of offered titles. There are also similar groups on Facebook, and on Kboards.com (Kindle forum boards).

Is this only suitable for indie authors? No. Unless an author has signed a particularly draconian contract with a publisher there will be leeway to produce a standalone novella or short story which can be used. Just ensure the short standalone is in the same genre as the published novels, and if possible using the same characters or setting. The title does not have to be available on any selling site; it does need to look professional.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet. I signed up ten days ago and have since had 82 people join my Newsletter mailing list. Another 14 have downloaded the collection of short SF/F stories without joining, and one has decided to unsubscribe. I find that first figure astounding as I've done very little to publicise the free title. During 16-20 April I take part in my first Instafreebie cross promotion. I’ll see what happens and update this post afterwards. Wish me luck.

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