On the Perils of Promoting a Free Book: You Rolls The Dice, You Takes Your Chances

I have a handsome visitor on my blog today... Mystery suspense thriller Author, Jim Heskett. 
My blog is yours, Jim.

I'm an indie author. That means, I not only write the books, I publish them, promote them, and manage them for their entire lives. They're my little wordy babies.

I wanted to share an experience I had with a promo, in order to help other indies in the future when they consider such things:

I recently ran a Kindle Nation Daily promo on the free series-starter in a multi-book series I write.

My results:

The promo cost $100, and resulted in 5,000 downloads of the book over the course of three or four days after the promo. The spike trended downward for about a week until it leveled off to pre-promo download levels.

I made my money back with a burst in sales of books 2 & 3 almost immediately, so in that respect, the promo was a success. However, there was an unintended consequence: bad reviews on the free book. Prior to the promo, I had almost all 4 and 5 star reviews. Only one 3 star review. I started seeing 1 and 2 star reviews piling up.

Why? Is it because the book is bad?
I don't think so.

I think that a glut of people downloaded the book only because it was free and promo'ed, not because it was the kind of book they would normally read. So they read a book not in their genre, got something they hadn't expected, and left bad reviews.

Bad reviews can kill an author's career.

Let me make one thing clear: I'm not trying to be one of those authors complaining about people who leave bad reviews. I am getting to a point here.

And that point is - the lesson here may be: take the good with the bad.

Or, it might be: the next promo I run needs to be much more targeted to get the book into the hands of people who will tend to like it.

Or it might be: don't run big promos on free books, because that $ barrier will force people to actively consider whether or not it's the kind of book they'd want to read instead of indiscriminately downloading it only because it's free.

Live and learn, I suppose. Experimentation is what being an indie author is all about.

Read Jim's Article: Self Published Books are Crap?


I absolutely agree that mistakes tells us which works... but first you gotta experiment or learn from others. Thanks for guest posting on my blog, Jim!

Jim has just released the 3 books of The Whistleblower Trilogy. 
A page turning Suspense Thriller.
Beautifully written in that humorous tone I've associated with Jim Heskett.
Free to read via Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. 
Check it out on Amazon:

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