advertising your free book: a case study

In July, I took advantage of KDP Select and had three of my books free for 5 days each. I wanted to experiment with advertising these books, and here is what I found.


I used three avenues of promotion: Facebook, the Book Marketing Tools submission tool, and BKnights from Fiverr. Here’s what I found.

Facebook is hit or miss

I used Facebook for all three of the books. Basically I just posted that the book was free, with a link to the Amazon page. For Eyeshine, I got a couple shares from influential friends, which seemed to make a real difference. The momentum (as you can see from the picture above) kept going for the whole five days. For Polygraph, there was little to no effect. For Bloodless Mask there was also little to no effect.

So, basically it seems like Facebook is hit or miss. It probably depends on who they choose to show your post to that day. Of course, it also might be that Polygraph and Bloodless Mask are less attractive than Eyeshine. (Eyeshine is a full-length novel whereas Polygraph and Bloodless Mask are short stories.)

the BMT free submission tool is a dud

If you go to Book Marketing Tools (BMT) one of their tools is a free submission tool. You do have to pay to use the tool, the “free” in its name refers to the fact you’re using it to advertise free books. Basically, the tool takes your information for $15 and uses it to submit to several sites that offer advertising for free books, like eBook Daily Deals and Frugal Freebies.

I found little to no effect from the BMT tool. When I offer Polygraph for free with no advertising, I get pretty much the same results as I got above. Interestingly, Facebook didn’t work for Polygraph either.

BKnights works but is short-lived

BKnights of Fiverr cost me $15 (normally it would be $10 but I submitted fairly late so paid an additional $5 to have quick service), the same as the BMT tool. You can see from the graph above that there is a distinct spike for Bloodless Mask on the day of BKnights’ promotion. This didn’t seem to translate into any momentum, as then downloads distinctly trailed off, but it was interesting to see that BKnights really does work. For Bloodless Mask, I felt there was little to no effect of my Facebook promotion.

a ton of free advertising sites are out there

That summarizes my adventures with three of the free advertising sites out there. But there are a ton more. I list a few below, that friends have claimed they got good results with.

Most of the above are premium sites, where you pay to have your free book listed. I’m ambivalent about this. On the one hand, more downloads is more exposure. On the other hand, it’s a guaranteed financial loss. I guess, on balance, I would prefer not to spend money advertising my free books. It just seems counter-intuitive.

What about you? Are there sites you’ve had a good response with that I haven’t listed? Do you think it is worth it to pay to advertise your free book? Let me know in the comments below.

Cy Wyss

I am an author currently residing in the Indianapolis area. I write and review mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction. Sign up for my newsletter at right and get a free short story.


  • Avatar
    Pamela Crane

    I’ve used FKBT (Free Kindle Books and Tips), Choosy Bookworm, Fussy Librarian…among others to promote discounts. While they usually make back what I’ve spent and if I’m lucky a little more, the momentum isn’t lasting. The only real momentum-producing tactics I’ve experienced is putting up a free novella/short story companion book and using that freebie to draw readers in to buy the other books. That has worked very well…for about a year for each book. Then it’s time to release a new set to keep sales going for fresh material. The cycle of writing, I guess?

  • Avatar
    Rosie Dean

    I had great results with PeopleReads, and that didn’t cost me a penny. I’ve also had excellent results with Fussy Librarian, BookBub and FKBT. I think there is a good momentum from these promotions which carries through into the KENP results. (This only applies to authors exclusive to Amazon.)

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