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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
- An Instafreebie account – fairly easy to sign up. You don’t need to give them a credit card or anything unless you want the paid for features. Link (my refer-a-friend link) here: https://instafreebie.com/authors?invite_code=XnAMKlyeNQ or Google Instafreebie.
Instructions on You Tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHAJXnV4sWs
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZLPyqE4kiQ
If you need help try email@example.com
(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