A few weeks ago, author Steve Boseley, a regular in this blog, contacted me to participate in my newsletter group. When discussing the details, I suggested he grows his own list first, as it consisted of a mere handful of addresses. We brainstormed and came up with the idea of using Instafreebie to grow his list, and he promised to share his experience. He has now done so, with great success, and has written what’s probably the best post on the subject I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Steve!

Give your readership a massive boost with Instafreebie

InstaFreebie | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookAs a relatively new author, I am very quickly learning the importance of having and building an email list. Having a direct line to a reader’s inbox gives me an opportunity not usually available through social media and other channels, and that is to start forming and building relationships with readers.

It took me a while to realise this, but when I started trying to build my list, I discovered how difficult it is.

I tried many things:

  • I offered a free story in exchange for an email address
  • I changed this free offer several times
  • I changed the look and feel of my website several times
  • I began blogging regularly
  • I learned new tricks from experts

As you will see from the graph below, my 12 months of effort produced very few email list subscribers. This can be quite disheartening for new authors, and I think if I had not come across a particular piece of advice from Nicholas, I may very well have given up the idea of building a list of readers, assuming that was reserved for only the most successful authors.

Nicholas introduced me to the idea of list building events.

You can read other ideas for Promotion and list building on a previous post by Nicholas HERE.

Through my research into these events, I came across Instafreebie. Initially, it seemed quite daunting and confusing, but it has turned out to be a quite productive exercise. So here’s what I found:


What is it?

Instafreebie is a website offering free e-books in a variety of different file formats. You can request that readers enter their email address in order to download their free book (your book).

How do people find your book?

Potential readers can find your book in a number of ways:

  • You can direct them from your blog, social media, website, and other sources
  • Instafreebie regularly chooses to highlight new giveaways
  • Through joint promotions with other authors (more on that later)

Pricing and features

Instafreebie accounts are available in 3 flavours:

  • All accounts come with fully customisable giveaways – choose how many books you wish to give away; choose start and finish dates for your giveaways; include optional DRM
  • Basic – free: you get unlimited giveaways and distribution of your free book; customer support to readers; one pen-name and author page.
  • Plus – $20 per month: all the benefits of basic plus email opt-in option; Mailchimp integration if needed, downloadable CSV file (exportable list file) if not; track the success of your giveaway
  • Pro – $50 per month: all of the above plus personalised giveaway branding; up to 5 pen names and author pages

Which option is the best for you?

The free option does not allow you to collect any emails from your readers and so defeats the purpose of giving your book away on this website, in my opinion.

I would suggest the Plus option is the best as it offers a 30 day free trial. During your 30 day trial, you can get involved with some group giveaways (more on that later) and see how effective it is for you.

How do I organise my giveaway?

When you sign up with Instafreebie, either for your free account or your 30 day free trial, you will be asked to upload the book you wish to make available to giveaway. This can be any of your books / stories / chapters, even the free ones, but who wants to download something that is already free elsewhere? Choose your book and upload it to the Instafreebie website along with a cover image.

Next, on your book page you will need to select new giveaway, at which point you will be able to customise your giveaway (see below). Once you have created this giveaway you will be presented with a link that will take you to the download page for your book and this is the link that you will need to give to your followers/readers, and it will take them to a page where they can claim your book.

Instafreebie Steve Boseley

How to make the best use of your 30-day free trial

You are not required to leave any credit card details for this free trial. The first thing you will need to do is exactly the same as for the free account: create your account, upload your book, create your giveaway.

To make the best use of your 30 days, you should aim to get involved in one, preferably more, Instafreebie group giveaways. This will maximise the number of readers that will see the giveaway and so will increase the number of email addresses collected.

What are group giveaways?

You will be in a group with other authors who have books in a similar genre to your own. The giveaway will run for a predetermined length of time, anything from a week to a month or more. During this time all participating authors are asked to promote the giveaway to their own email list/social media followers/website. You do not share your email list with any of the other participating authors, but you will benefit from not just your own list or followers but you will also have access to all the followers of all the other authors, plus Instafreebie’s own marketing efforts. The potential to reach a large number of potential readers is huge. During my 30 day free trial I took part in 2 group promotions, the first of which had 84 authors, and the second one 53 authors. I sent out promotional material to my (tiny) email list, mentioned it on my blog, and sent tweets linking to the promotion page (see later).

How do I find group giveaways?

Instafreebie itself has a forum on which you can find many upcoming giveaways. The 2 giveaways that I have been involved with, I discovered via Facebook, where there are a number of groups dedicated to specific genres or giveaways in general. These are some of the ones I discovered:

How do I get involved?

Head to one of the Facebook pages I mentioned or do some searching on Facebook of your own, and you should see posts which talk about setting up giveaways. Simply find a giveaway in your genre and make contact with the giveaway organiser. All they will need from you is the link for the giveaway you created when you signed up for your account. Then the organiser will create a page (usually on his/her website) showing all the books that are being offered for that giveaway. Each book will take readers to the download page for that book, where they will enter their email address and download the book for free. This is the one I am currently involved with; click the link and you’ll see the sort of thing you can expect:Giveaway Steve Boseley

Do I need to do a lot of promotion?

The simple answer is no, although some giveaways do make stipulations that authors do get involved with promotion of the giveaway; however, it is in your best interest to promote the giveaway to your followers as much as possible. Instafreebie has a huge following, and they like to promote giveaways to their users. They do this by highlighting and promoting giveaways that are already promoted well by participating authors. The more a particular giveaway is promoted the higher the chance that Instafreebie will bring their considerable marketing powers to supporting that giveaway.

I recommend promoting the giveaway throughout its duration, and you can help Instafreebie know about your efforts by using #Instafreebie or @Instafreebie on your social media posts.

Is it effective?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my own efforts to build an email list had been largely unsuccessful over the past 12 months. Below is a graph from Mailchimp showing the change in my number of subscribers over the past 3 weeks.

Mailchimp from instafreebie

Not only has the number of subscribers dramatically increased, the audience is much more targeted than my original handful of followers that included some people I met through blogging, a few friends, and some family members. In the graph below you will see what impact that has had on conversion rates (how many people opened the initial emails and how many clicked a link). The points above February 19 are the rate that the original few people interacted with my emails. February 27th was the date of my first email to new Instafreebie followers and March 13th was the 2nd email, with almost 50% of subscribers clicking a link.

mailchimp open rate steve boseley

Won’t people just unsubscribe?

There will, of course, be people that are here just for the free books, and those people may very well choose to unsubscribe after you send them your first email. Writing and sending effective emails in a timely fashion to your subscribers is a blog post all by itself, and I will not be covering that here; however, as you can see from the numbers below the unsubscribe rate for my first giveaway is small and this is after I have sent 2 emails in the space of about 10 days including information on how to unsubscribe should they wish to do so.


Whilst I only have a relatively small sample size, and there is no guarantee that these 700 people will not unsubscribe tomorrow, I would have to say that my experiment with Instafreebie has been more successful than I could have imagined.

I can foresee me purchasing a month of Instafreebie in the future where I can coincide it with relevant giveaways.

If you want a massive boost to your own readership, therefore, I recommend you give Instafreebie a look.

Who Is Steve Boseley?

Steve Boseley | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksSteve lives in Nottingham, UK with his wife and two children. Most of his work falls in the ‘dark fiction’ category, which stems from being brought up on Stephen King novels and short stories, and a steady diet of The Twilight Zone / Tales from the Crypt. You will see some of that influence in his second book, A Sinister Six, a collection of darkly disturbing stories, where the ordinary and mundane become extraordinary and fantastic. A Sinister Six is available from Amazon for just 99c.

A very active sportsman, Steve went back to university to study Sport Science (anatomy and physiology) and expected to move into a career in sports. Instead, he worked with children and young people for several years, before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of just 30. He now works for a local charity, supporting and empowering disabled people. Writing resurfaced following his diagnosis, offering endless imaginary worlds to escape in to.

You can find him on authorsteveboseley.com, where you can also download 53 free books, including his own, Die, Blossom, Bloom.

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