You may remember my recent promotion of Infinite Waters and The Power of Six. For five days, the former was available for free. The latter has stayed on 99c for a little longer, as I didn’t want to interrupt its downloads.

Go Free

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books


In the past, I’ve used paid services to announce my sales to the world. I usually spend between $50 and $100 per promo. Depending on the season, this generated between 300 and 3,000 downloads. The former was far more common though; that last one was a bit of a fluke, as it was Christmas, and I was accidentally helped by someone posting on Reddit about it (you can read all about it in my A-Z post).

This time, I went (almost) all free. Capital controls are still imposed in Greece, which means that I’m pretty restricted as to spending money abroad. So, I used Effrosyni Moschoudi’s list of free promoters, realizing in the process that some of the places have now either gone bust, or require payment. In the interest of helping you out, here is a direct link to an Excel spreadsheet with the places I actually submitted to.

The (Books) Butterfly Effect

But first, let me clarify that I did get one paid promo for free: I had asked Books Butterfly to let me test their guarantee service. You see, Books Butterfly has a brilliant system, where they offer a prorated refund. That means: If you pay $100 for a Platinum Slot (which guarantees 2,000 downloads) and you only get 1,500 downloads, you get a $25 refund.

Abhi had left me a message on this blog suggesting I try their service, so I bought a $50 spot. However, he wrote back explaining that interest in short stories is roughly 1/5th that of full-length books. As a result, this was not a good way to test their service at all. He very generously offered to run my short story collection, Infinite Waters, for no charge.

On the day that Abhi ran his promo, I had 400 downloads. The next day, 244. All this had already broken my usual number, so I’ll definitely be trying out Books Butterfly again in the near future.

The Numbers

During the rest of the days, I had a little over 400 free downloads, bringing the total number to a little over 800.

Throughout the promo, I also sold some 40 books, 25 of which were of the discounted Power of Six. The rest were full-price copies of the rest of my books. This 95% free / 5% paid ratio was steady throughout the campaign, which leaves me to think it must be a thing.

What’s more exciting is the ranking success the promo had. Both books hit #1, with The Power of Six hitting it much sooner and for longer (since it was a paid book; not a free one).

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

The Power of Six had this lovely “Best Seller” caption next to it for a few days

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Once again, The Power of Six ranked pretty high in its subgenres, reaching #1 in one of them

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Infinite Waters reached #1 in one category, and quite high listings in two more

What’s next?

For my next promotion, I may try a combination of free and paid sites. I’ll be using Jackie Weger’s recommendations. As she says on Review Mania II,

“Two promotion sites that have made it onto eNovel’s Above the Fold list are booktastik andBettyBookFreaks. Here is why: On a recent ten author/5 day  tour. Dionne of booktastik promoted the tour on her site for free all five days. Dionne has also started streaming  promotion results for transparency. That is the GOLD Standard.

Betty ofBettyBookFreaks grabbed our posts and was a Tweeting Wizard for our tour and promotion. They pay-it forward. We love ’em.

BookBarbarian has just made it to our Preferred list for Sci-fi and Fantasy. $8 for promotion and BookBarbarian streams results. Transparency. So has BookScream – which sends the author an indepth activity on a book promotion.  These all are smaller sites with fewer subscribers, but the owners are doing it right.”

So, what’s the verdict?

Well, this had to be the best zero bucks I’ve ever spent 🙂

Half of the downloads came from free submissions. I think this proves that you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on ads to promote your sale, as long as you are willing to spend the time and effort to submit to a number of places.

All the same, the fact that the other half came from Books Butterfly shows that a few well-placed promos may well be worth the money spent, as they will save you tons of work.

So, it really boils down to a simple question: which are you willing to spend to promote your free deal: time or money?

A reminder: If you’ve run a promo, please do take the 3-question survey and help other authors by sharing your results! 

Facebook Caveat

I’m updating this post to include a caveat I just discovered on KBoards. According to J.E. Taylor, posting the exact same content on multiple FB pages at once can get you banned. As she says, “once you are banned, you are out of the water for 14 days minimum. It’s a 14 day black out from any group activity, and what is worse, when they ban the user from posting to groups, they delete ALL their posts from the beginning of time, not just the ones that may have triggered their algorithms. This includes deleting entries in groups that that author created, even closed or secret groups.”

So if you use this option in your marketing strategy, you might want to think twice or at the very least, spread out your posting throughout the day to gain exposure without risking being banned.

For further information on this, check out the entire post on KBoards.