The Results Are In-Did Free Help Sales?

Most of you have heard the arguments for and against offering your book for free to increase sales. I did something a little different by offering a free bonus gift for people who purchased my book, Pioneering Todayfor a limited time.

I ran the promotion for two weeks. Because I started the promotion on the launch day of my book, it’s hard to know what my sales would have been without it. I did have several people take me up on the offer. I also had sales where people didn’t request the bonus material.

It made me wonder if they didn’t want the material or they purchased without seeing the offer. (Amazon allows you to see the sales of both Kindle and Paperback to help track.)

I did have the most amount of requests for bonus material on the last day of the promotion. This confirms my belief that you need a time limit on any promotion and shorter may be better. In fact, I had two readers send me the proof of purchase an hour before midnight on the last day.

I’ll definitely offer bonus materials again. I do think for ease of delivery and time-saving, that I’ll make sure all materials are electronic only. Trips to the post office, cost of delivery, cost of the cards, and mainly the time to address material helped me make this decision.

By far the single most driving force of sales has been not the bonus material or free things offered, but the readers. After reading the book, I’ve had numerous people purchase copies (some up to ten) as gifts.

The take away from all this: the best promotional tool you have is your book. Make sure it’s the best it can be. It will speak for itself.

What promotion has prompted you to buy a book? Authors, what marketing or bonus gifts have worked the best for you?

This entry was posted in Marketing and Promotion, Non-fiction, Publishing, Social Media and tagged , , , , by Melissa K. Norris. Bookmark the permalink.

About Melissa K. Norris

Melissa K. Norris is a 5th generation homesteader who believes homegrown and Mason jars should be the foundation of every kitchen and healthy food can also taste amazing, life is too short for anything else. She’s the voice of the popular Pioneering Today podcast, author of The Made-from-Scratch Life and Hand Made, and founder of the Pioneering Today Academy, along with her blog at she teaches people old-fashioned skill sets and back to basic living in a modern world. When she had her stomach and esophagus biopsied for cancer nearly a decade ago, she and her husband were determined to raise more of their own food in the footsteps of our ancestors for their health and peace of mind. While still working day jobs, sometimes multiple ones, they raise all of their own organic grass-fed beef, pork, meat chickens, hens for eggs and close to 65% of their own fruits and vegetables in just a few hours a week. Some of Melissa’s earliest memories are of being in the vegetable garden. Her family has been saving their own strain of heirloom Tarheel green pole beans for over 100 years. They grow an all heirloom garden, seed save, and try to produce as much of their own food because they believe a garden isn’t just food for the body, but food for the soul as well. They strive to produce a year’s worth of food with as many crops as possible and heirloom tomatoes are one of those, even in the rainy Pacific Northwest and with a short growing season, because once you go vine ripened, you’ll never go back.

8 thoughts on “The Results Are In-Did Free Help Sales?

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiment, Melissa. Definitely go digital with your next giveaway. A good method is to include a downloadable PDF on a password-protected page at your website. If you weren’t aware, Google Doc embedder is a great plugin for a self-hosted WordPress site that allows you to do this.

    I may be less materialistic than the norm, but I don’t care if there’s a giveaway. When I purchase a book, it’s because I’ve identified a felt need or desire to read it.

    • Thanks for the tip on Google Doc, Janalyn. I wasn’t aware of that. Being less materialistic can be a good thing. I agree on purchasing books that met a felt need or I wanted to read, but I have purchased the book sooner or above others that was offering a giveaway. But I would have made the purchase regardless, though perhaps at a later date. 🙂

  2. This is purely from a reader’s point of view. As I reflected, I realized that there is no single, dominate reason that persuades me to buy a book. First, however, the book must be something I want to read. There is probably nothing that would cause me to buy or read a vampire or zombie story, for instance. Even within my genres of interest, a free bonus is not a big incentive. Maybe if the bonus itself is of high interest I might consider a download. I do read reviews and samples. But I also look for books that others are talking about in blogs, discussions, and other venues. Personal recommendations from friends and colleagues have been major factors. I usually order through Amazon for its ease of use. I’ve abandoned attempts to order from some personal websites because the process was too complicated. Finally, free books will often lead me to by other books by the same author whether part of a series or not. That depends on how well I like the free book, of course, which brings us back to the beginning–the book itself.

    • Great points, Larry. I think as writers we need to be readers first and look at our writing from that angle often. I like ordering from Amazon if I”m purchasing books because I can get free shipping if I add more books….. Confession: I’m a book addict. 🙂

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  4. As a dedicated reader I generally order books from authors I have read or recommended by friends. I do download free books to see if author interests me then I will follow up & order. Follow blog contests to get sample of writing then decide if writer is of interest. Have discovered a number of new writers with better skills than some “top sellers” which leads me to investigate freebies.

  5. Thanks for the information on this type of marketing strategy! It sounds like it was a lot of hard work but paid off in the end.

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