How to: Run an Instafreebie giveaway

Instafreebie giveaway how to

A few months ago, I set up an Instafreebie giveaway to send out samples of books which were shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNA) awards. I wrote it up for Romance Matters magazine as a case study. In order to keep this blog post short, I’ve picked out the ‘how to’ part of it. If you want to see the full article, including the download figures etc, just download the document at the end (it’s free).

When I heard about being shortlisted of a RoNA award, I was over the moon. My first thought was to squee a lot and eat cheesecake (naturally), but after I’d calmed down, I started thinking about how we (my fellow nominees and I) could use this to try and get our books in front of people. The RNA press officers sent press releases out to traditional media – some people got a bit of press attention from that. As I have very few press contacts, I wasn’t able to get very far with that. So I poked around on the internet (which is my default pastime anyway) and stumbled across a service that Indie authors have been using for a while – Instafreebie.


Insta-what now?

This is my interpretation of Instafreebie: They are a site with a huge mailing list of readers who are looking for free books and previews of books to download. You can:

  • use it to give away books or samples of books, in the hope that it the readers are so smitten by the sample that they’ll go on and buy the full book.
  • Use it get ARCs into the hands of reviewers (You can set your giveaway to ‘private’ and send links to selected people. You can also set it so that they need a password to get the book).   
  • Use it to build a mailing list. I’m told that a lot of the Instafreebie subscribers are very engaged and tend to leave reviews.

The main difference between Instafreebie and Netgalley is that Instafreebie is cheaper and they have a huge email list already (a bit like Bookbub in that respect).


What we did with the RoNA shortlist

Twelve authors (well, eleven, really, but one of us had two books on the shortlist under two different pen names) put up samples of their RoNA nominated books. The samples were of various lengths. Most people gave away the first chapter, but some samples were a bit longer (around 3 chapters). We each put a link to the full book at the end of the sample. Where books weren’t out in the US yet, the author put in a notice saying ‘join my mailing list to find out when this book comes out in the US’.

It’s worth noting that if a book is on KDP Select, you are still allowed to use 10% of the book for promotional purposes.

Each author signed up for Instafreebie (you can get a basic account for free), uploaded their book and set up a public giveaway.

They sent me (the giveaway coordinator) the links for each of their individual giveaway pages and a jpeg of their book cover. I pulled them all together into a ‘giveaway’ page and made a graphic for it. 

The graphic included the name of the giveaway, the dates and the URL

We used ‘can you guess which of these books are winners?’ as a hook. It turned out that three of them were!

I then contacted Instafreebie ( and asked if they would help us promote this giveaway. All authors promoted this one page on our social media and on our mailing lists.

Since Instafreebie will help promote a giveaway that has more than 10 participants, they sent me instructions and we agreed on a date.

Do you want to set up your own Instafreebie giveaway? Here are some instructions:

What you need:

  • Your book sample in EPUB format. [Update: You can now also use Mobi format!]
  • A jpeg of your book cover.

Instructions on You Tube here:

Sign up for the free version of Instafreebie and set up the giveaway. Set it to ‘public’, so that it can be shared.

Once you’ve put the giveaway up on Instafreebie, send the giveaway coordinator the URL for your giveaway, a jpeg of your book cover and one or two lines about your book (the descriptions don’t show up very well on Instafreebie).

Setting up a Giveaway as a coordinator

Just pull together all the books and short descriptions onto one page on your website/blog. Link each book cover to the relevant giveaway URL (people tend to click pictures more than words). Send the URL for this new page with all the books on to all the participating authors.

More detailed instructions on You Tube here:

If you need help try

(Or you can email me and I’ll do my best to help!)

Converting a Word doc into an EPUB doc: My preferred way is to open the Word doc in Google docs, then click ‘download as’ and choose EPUB. That worked fine for me.

There are other (better) options like using Calibre or Draft2Digital. I haven’t tried these methods.

You can put your book sample/short story/reader magnet up and run a promo campaign for free. However, if you want to collect the email addresses of people who download your book, you have to pay ($20 a month).

If you are building your mailing list, then Instafreebie is great. You can set the promotion so that people have to give you their email address before they download your book. You can link your Instafreebie account to Mailchimp or Mailerlite so that all those email addresses go to your mailing list (or you can just download them at the end of the promo period). This is a paid for feature. They have a free one-month trial, if you wanted to try this.

Want to the see the download numbers and graphs? Download it here: Instafreebie How To

How to find new authors to read

If you enjoy reading my books, you’ll probably like the work of some of the other UK romance novelists… but how do you find them? Easy, you check out the samples that we’re giving away for free – just click the book cover and download a sample in the format of your choice. All of the books in this giveaway have been shortlisted for the RoNA (Romantic Novel of the Year) awards.



The giveaway runs 1st – 14th of March. RoNA winners will be announced on the 13th of March.

The giveaway includes a sample to my own Girl Having A Ball (which is shortlisted in the Best Romantic Comedy category).

If you find a new writer that you like, everyone’s a winner!

Lots of free short stories (including one of mine)

If you’re a keen reader of short stories, then check out this giveaway link:

It takes you to a page listing a whole load of short stories, listed by genre, offered up through Instafreebie. My story, The Truth About the Other Guy is in there amoung them.

The Truth About The Other Guy appeared in the Truly Madly Deeply anthology, which showcased the best of British romance writing. It’s probably the only time I’ll be in the same book as Katie Fforde and Milly Johnson! Since it’s been a few years, I can now republish the story. I chose to give it away for free (for a while, at least).

For those of you who read Doctor January and wanted to know what happened to Vic, he’s the hero of this story. 2

Here’s the blurb:

Aasha has spent her life lying to her parents and pretending she’s the good Sri Lankan girl they expect her to be. She’s about to come clean when her mother announces she’s found her a ‘suitable’ man… which is not going to end well, because her mother doesn’t really know Aasha at all. Or does she?


If you haven’t heard of Instafreebie – here’s how it works. Authors put up free offers of short stories, extracts or even full books up on the site. You give them your email address and they send you the freebie in the electronic format of your choice. Job done.

A side effect is that you get put on the author’s mailing list. If you read and like the free thing, then that’s fab. If you decided you’d rather not hear from them again, just hit unsubscribe. ALL mailing list emails should have an unsubscribe button at the bottom.

[As an aside,  if you’ve changed your mind about being on the list, or only signed up for the free stuff (it’s fine, we all do that), you should always UNSUBSCRIBE and not hit the spam button. Hitting the spam button means that the poor list owner gets penalised. Hitting unsubscribe means you stop the emails without hurting anyone.]

Here’s that link again:



Pat’s Pantry is FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow (26/27 Jan)

The title says it all, really. My short read Pat’s Pantry is available for FREE on Amazon for two days.


What’s it about? Well, since you ask… here’s the blurb:

Can you ever forgive your first love?

Jack left Sue when she was eighteen and no one else has even come close to taking his place in her heart. Twenty five years later, Sue is too busy running the local bakery and fighting off competition from the new bistro in the village to have time for romance.

After more than two decades away, Jack is finally returning to the village he grew up in. Seeing Sue rekindles all the feelings he thought were long buried. But will Sue forgive him for leaving… especially when she finds out that his daughter runs the enemy bistro?

Pat’s Pantry is the first story in a series of contemporary romantic comedies set in the rural Yorkshire village of Trewton Royd. If you like small town romances, character driven plots and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series.


In case I haven’t persuaded you to part with… um… zero pounds, here’s what some of the reviews say:

“It took my mind away from the million and one hassles of everyday life and carried me off to a lovely village”

” it’s hard to believe that so much can be said in just a few pages”

“It made me hanker for a cinnamon bun.”

So, get your copy today.


Pat’s Pantry – short novella set in Yorkshire

A little over a year ago, I wrote a long-ish short story for a competition. I didn’t win, but I ended up with a rather nice story that was too long to send out to magazines and too short to send to my publisher. At around the same time, I’d started wondering if I could try this self publishing lark. I’ve always wanted to be a traditionally published author, but… well, increasingly, you’ve got to do a lot of the book promotion yourself. It used to just be stuff like chatting to book bloggers (I like doing that) and messing about on Twitter and Facebook (I quite like that too). But now, Facebook and Twitter algorithms have changed and I end up talking to only a tiny number of people – which is fine most of the time, but if I want to try promoting anything… the message doesn’t go very far. Which means that promotion now requires paying for adverts. Chatting to my online friends, thankfully, still remains free.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve self published Pat’s Pantry so that I can try new things. If I pay for an ad and sell a few books, then I’ll at least get part of my money back. Besides, it’s cool to be a hybrid author nowadays, apparently.

What was my point? Oh yes. I eventually self published the short novella as Pat’s Pantry. It’s FREE this weekend. Please do download it, if you’re passing through Amazon. It’s a very gentle story about Sue, who gets a second chance at romance when she’d pretty much given up hope. The story is set in a tiny village in West Yorkshire. It’s only about 25 pages long, so you should be able to read it in under an hour!




So yes, Pat’s Pantry. Totally free until Sunday. If you do read it and like it (or even if you don’t), please leave a review. Amazon uses the number of reviews as part of its algorithm. If a book has more than 50 reviews, apparently some Good Thing happens. I’m not sure what that is – I’m hoping showers of sparkles or cakes delivered by drone… but it’s more likely to be Amazon ranking the book a bit higher.

I know some of you read review copies and have left lovely reviews already. Thank you, thank you, thank  you! Incidentally, I love the village in this story so much, that I’m planning on writing more novellas featuring other characters from there. [If you want to be in with the cool kids and get review copies and things, sign up for my newsletter].

Have a great weekend. Hope you get all your Christmas shopping done. 

The Joy of Colouring In (+ free colouring-in sheet for February)

In December, I came across Alain Moose’s fabulous downloadable advent calendar. It consisted of a calendar full of doodles which you could print out. The ‘calendar’ numbers were scattered around the picture and you had to find and colour in the correct date each day. I pinned it to the wall at work. I have a pack of pencils in my desk at work (for work, honestly!). I keep it next to the emergency chocolate.

I’d forgotten how much fun it is to colour in. Finding the elusive number, deciding on a colour and colouring it in was one of the highlights of my morning tea break. It helped that on Mondays  you get to colour in 3 days worth. By  the end of it, my calendar looked like this:

2014-01-30 12.09.43

Now that Christmas is over, I miss having a bit of colouring in to perk up my dull winter workdays. I looked on the internet for something that would do, but really couldn’t find anything. Not for free anyway. So in the end, I did my own. This is what it looks like today:2014-02-05 13.16.36 Feel free to print out a copy for yourself  from the link below (under a creative commons attribution + non commercial use licence).

Download your free colouring in picture here: Colouring in Feb 2014 2 Do send me a photo once it’s all coloured in, won’t you?