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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just managed to get a book giveaway to go viral on Amazon. I've been blogging about this to help other publishers and authors as it's hard to get this kind of information online. I've done a few blog posts with exact statistics and the latest has more help as we've learnt from experience and managed it. Hope it helps you http://adeleward.blogspot.co.uk/ The book is Joe Stein's Another Man's World and there are now downloads every second on Amazon UK, so I count it as going viral now the downloads happen even if I do nothing. To get to this point it had to get high in the rankings, and the secret to that is working your way up in the categories. Hope the blog helps. ;)
 

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Thanks for the clear illustration. I agree that categories matter, and moving up in any category gives you great exposure that may help you move up - in the end - in the bigger heaps. You are very motivating.

Did you give away printed or ebook versions? Sorry if I missed that.
 

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Congratulations on your success!  That's awesome.  Yes, the categories are SO important...I've tried experimenting with mine here and there, and it does seem to have an impact.
 

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I'm confused. I wouldn't call a Free book going viral.

I've found it generally pretty easy to place in Top 100 free.
 

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Thanks Adele - will check out your blog post. I've just put a book free today myself. So I need all the help I can get!
 

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I’m confused too. Maybe it’s the way you’ve framed it, but all you’ve succeeded in doing is giving away a lot of books. I guess you could call that going viral.

You mentioned that freebies don’t devalue a book, but I’m unclear about how many of his books you’ve sold as a result of going viral.

Also, business people are sceptical of giving away a product as a way of building sales not only because it devalues the product, but because it can saturate the market. I realize a lot of people here advocate that approach--and perhaps some have had success with strategic give-aways--but I'm not clear as to what was accomplished in this case.



 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am actually a publisher. The first giveaway we did in December led to 100 ebooks being sold (to answer one of you) and also one of our best months for selling paperback books. It also led to more people coming to our publisher website and buying direct from us, which is incredibly important. This is a good result for a small publisher. We are currently experiencing our best period for sales since we set up 2 and a half years ago, and the giveaways are the first type of promotion to give me the belief that there are ways to survive and succeed as a publisher.

To answer why I call this 'going viral' (to the person who asked if I just mean giving away a lot of books), going viral is different to just saying 'I gave away a lot of books'. Something goes viral when it becomes self perpetuating. The downloads for this book are now continual even if I do nothing. I didn't ask any individuals to take it to support me. Even if we sit back now, the downloads are happening every second so it is all happening by itself at this point - that's viral.

I think it may be easy to give away enough books to get into the rankings by 'nagging' people to take the giveaway (to answer the people who say it's easy to give away books). I can't do that as I'm a reputable publisher. So I can only promote the books in a professional way and hope for a high take up rate. I don't contact individuals to take my giveaway in order to support it and get it into the rankings.We want a meaningful giveaway, one where people have just seen the book offered and actually want to get it. I want people to actually want to read this book. I don't want to nag them into getting it and then ignoring it on their Kindle. That would be no help at all.

During this giveaway we have been selling ebooks and paperbacks for authors across our list, at what is normally a quiet time for small publishers. The bookshops and other retailers are concentrating on selling the books highly promoted by major publishers. To have our best sales of ebooks and paperback books at this time of year is an incredible help.

I will bear in mind the questions asked in this post when I write a blog post I'm planning on how to achieve actual book sales after a giveaway, or even without a giveaway, using similar techniques.
 

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Nice post, there are some good tips here. Like you say, it takes a lot of work. I released a Short Prequel for Free a couple of months ago, and it is no easy feat. You learn a lot though :)

Matthew
 

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I understand going free and even going viral to some extent, but I'm not sure what you mean about nagging people to get the free book? Is that what you think most of us do? Last week one of my books was free for two days. I didn't nag anyone to get it. I shared my book's amazon page on my FB wall and said it was free. When I've done that before, my friends and family ignored it. This time my sister's bf shared my post. I think that is what made my sister share it on her's (as she never had before) and then my other sisters, 2 sisters in law and a couple of friends. Even with about seven shares, which would have put my free book in front of maybe a few thousand more people, probably only a handful got it. I was still grateful because even if they don't get it this week, they might next time they see it.

Anyway, my point is that most of us don't know enough people that nagging anyone would make it worthwhile. The best bet for getting a freebie noticed is hoping for a mention on Pixel of Ink or EreaderNewsToday. Those are the major players, but there are many more such as Michael Gallagher's blog, KindleNationDaily, BookBub, Bargain EBooks and on and on. It's possible that getting enough of the smaller blogs to give a mention can make the book go viral.

As far as sales post free, that is also based on how many freebies were given away and what other books were free the same day and how successful they were. This past week, there were several books in my genre that were free. If I'm lucky, my book will end up in the same also boughts of some of the most successful one. That increases visibility. Reviews also come into play here, but doesn't always seem to be the most important. Genre is probably the single biggest factor. Right now, books similar to 50 Shades are all the rage. A great freebie run coupled with some good reviews and landing on other bestseller's also bought lists are the recipe for sales post free.

I also have to wonder how viral you went if post free only had a hundred book spike. While not bad, it's not record setting either.
 

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A peek at the MEGA thread on free runs might be insightful for you since you're planning on even more blog posts and are looking at this as a business strategy for your company: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,98775.0.html

Which makes it easier to step in with a couple of observations. The book is in the Top 100 Free in the UK, while it's #3300 in the US. There are differences in the venues concerning post-free sales and how books gain visibility on the UK site vs the .com site. To wit, at least through last month, the pop lists in the UK were operating under more favorable algorithms than those in the US. That may be changing some, however...

Like WHDean, I'd hesitate in terming the book being downloaded a lot as going viral, but you're free to term it what you will. Do note that most books need several thousand downloads to result in significant post-free sales. Books getting 2000 to 6000 downloads are very common. Books getting 6000-12,000 downloads happens fairly regularly. Books getting 12,000-20,000 downloads is less common. Books getting 20,000+ downloads is still infrequent enough to be news-worthy.

Also, be aware that while this might be a "quiet" time for small publishers, this is THE boom time for ebooks with millions of reading devices being gifted during the season, and December is THE boom time for print books for self-pubbed authors.

Saying that simply getting a book onto a Kindle during a free promo and then it not being read would be no help at all tells me you don't appreciate just how the free promos work to your advantage. Study the MEGA thread at the link above. As a publisher, you really want to better understand the ins and outs of your sales tools.

Finally, calling yourself a "reputable publisher" and saying you can't "nag" people to take the books is a bit off-putting to those of us who are also professional and reputable in the way we promote our books. Steel Magnolia Press gave away 607,000 ebooks last year. I've nagged no one to take them. What I have done is request features and ads from a number of reader sites. The same as what everyone else on this board does. We had one book with 47,000 downloads that went on to sell 25,000 copies in the 6 weeks following its free run. We've had another book with 36,000 downloads that sold 3000 copies in the month following. My own book gave away 16,000 copies and sold 1500 at $3.99 in the 3 weeks following. I know one author who came off a free run a week ago with 40,000 downloads who's been selling an average of 600 books per day and hit #71 in the Paid store on the .com site. And I can quickly count numerous other KBers who have sold hundreds of copies in the days following successful free runs. That's not even noting the collateral sales of other titles that come as a result of one book being free. None of us accomplished this through nagging.

Sincere congratulations on a successful free run and to have sold a number of books post-free. That's truly exciting! Please also post your results in the MEGA thread. We don't have as much UK data there as we could...
 

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Adele Ward said:
During this giveaway we have been selling ebooks and paperbacks for authors across our list, at what is normally a quiet time for small publishers.
Really? This is always a huge selling season for my small press. Not just in the ebooks, but in the companies that bulk buy my titles after starting their new fiscal budget. I have two pending orders, one for 500 copies of a book and another for 600. It's a great time. My favorite time!
 

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When someone learns how to go viral and give away tons of books outside the Kindle, THEN I will give you my time and money.

Anyone who can deliver huge audiences outside the Amazon ecosystem, in a manner that can't be yanked out from under your feet at any second, is going to be a multimillionaire.

And if I were a publisher who wanted a life after Amazon freebies killed the market, I'd be both driving everyone to my own site and inspiring them to sign up for my newsletter--in other words, use the failing platform of places like Facebook and the weakening foundation of the Select program to get readers into my ecosystem. (I don't really want a life after Amazon. I'm happy to take the easy money now and then go do something else fun later.)

And I say this for all lottery winners, including myself--winning the lottery doesn't gain anyone an iota of respect in my eyes. I've seen too many one-shot wonders in this ebook thing, too many ephemeral top 100 hits who got lucky on a nice cover or timing or just a kind spin of the roulette wheel. The persistent application of ethical strategies that continue to build and work and serve readers--THAT, I admire.

Congratulations and best of luck, Adele, and I am glad you are able to mine the new era for opportunities, because there are plenty. It's not easy no matter how we go about it.
 

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To inject a little positivity and support into what has become a very nitpicky thread....I'm just happy for you, Adele.   :)  I wish you much success.  Thanks for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all and I'm sorry if my 'nagging' comment came across in a way I didn't really mean it. I was answering somebody who was saying it was easy to give a book away. In fact it isn't easy to give books away in a way that is useful.

Also, I do agree that getting up in the rankings is useful even if authors have done it by more than a little gentle persuasion. I do appreciate that. I suppose it could be helpful if our authors would do that, but people are still very tentative about how this affects reputation in the UK. The US is ahead of us in the ebook market.

I will also take on board the other suggestions you have made for other websites and other techniques.

The book has gone into thousands of downloads, in answer to one of you, and is still going fast. I agree with the person who said none of us actually know that many people so couldn't persuade them all to take the book. Your figures are encouraging as this gives me an idea of how successful our giveaway is and it's still in progress.

Our last giveaway wasn't long ago and downloads were just about equal in the US and UK and high. I'm not sure why it's different this time but getting high in the rankings was part of it. Some authors just seem to do better in the US than others too, although I find American readers really like our very English authors when they try them. Of all our authors only Sue Guiney and me do well in the US as well as the UK and she's American living in London.

I also very strongly agree with the person who wants to see books going viral on something other than Kindle. I certainly want that too and will be working on that. Amazon crushes small publishers in terms of print book sales so I'm definitely in that fight.

It's good to hear that the problem with Christmas sales isn't the same in the US.

Thanks for all the tips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As a follow up, the giveaway led to 152 sales of Kindle books in the two weeks after the giveaway and 20 library loans. I've learnt a lot from discussions on Kindle Boards about giveaways which I'll use for another giveaway on February 14th.
 

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Thanks for posting Adele and I'm glad you and your author are doing well. As a thriller author I appreciated your observations about categories and sub-categories.

Keep it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Glad it helped. Among the tips I've learnt on various forums, the inclusion of a link at the end of a Kindle book encouraging a reader to rate the book would be important and we'll be doing that. We put a link to the next book in the series, but the ratings really help, especially when a book reverts to paid status and needs to stay high in the rankings.

With categories, I can see we can set two categories, but it seems as if others set more categories. Do you know how this is done? Somebody else does this with our books.

 

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Adele Ward said:
Glad it helped. Among the tips I've learnt on various forums, the inclusion of a link at the end of a Kindle book encouraging a reader to rate the book would be important and we'll be doing that. We put a link to the next book in the series, but the ratings really help, especially when a book reverts to paid status and needs to stay high in the rankings.

With categories, I can see we can set two categories, but it seems as if others set more categories. Do you know how this is done? Somebody else does this with our books.
On my Kindle Paperwhite, it prompts a window to rate it automatically at the end of the book.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, that's the kind of thing we need. I'll see if my colleague, who does the Kindle conversions, has spotted how to add this. He might not have realised how important it was before we experimented with giveaways.
 

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Hi Adele,
I enjoyed your blog post.  Congrats, and I think you are doing the right things for your publishing efforts by experimenting and working hard.  I think you deserve all of the success you've been having. 
 
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