Is Free Really an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Everyone loves free stuff. Go to any convention and attendees all flock to the displays where items are being given away for free. When companies like Chick-Fil-A, 7 Eleven, Rita’s or Dairy Queen give away free products, people flock to the business.

Is Free an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Giving away free products is a form of advertising. After all, the goal of all advertising is for someone to use the product or service and like it enough to become a repeat buyer and tell other people about the great product or service. The ultimate goal of advertising is seeding word-of-mouth.

The same is true for book sales. Word-of-mouth is the top of driver of sales. Publishers and authors spend money on marketing a book in hopes that people will read the book and like it well enough to start telling others about it.

Giving away free books as part of a book marketing campaign brings the following three benefits to your book.

1.  It drives sales.

Giving away free books to readers drives discovery. It introduces an author to new readers. When avid readers like a book, they tend to read other books by that same author. After all, author familiarity is one of the top drivers of book sales.

Free is a powerful sales catalyst for series or backlists, especially with ebooks. Studies indicates that ebook series that offer the first book free earn 55% more on average than series that don’t offer the first ebook free.

2.  It develops rapport.

Giving free books develops rapport. Rapport is needed to develop a relationship. There are four main reasons people do business with someone. These four reasons are:

  • They like you.
  • They trust you.
  • They find you competent.
  • They believe you have integrity.

Rapport opens the door for trust. Giving free copies of your book to readers is one way to begin to develop trust with these buyers. If these readers like your book, they will tell others.

3.  It encourages feedback.

Feedback benefits you. Reactions and observations let you know what you are doing well. It also tells you what you need to improve. When you give away a free book, you can invite feedback. After all, you want to know whether the book resonated with the reader or whether you need to change a few things so you can better connect with your target audience.

Some individuals who receive a free copy of a book will provide feedback in the form of a review, either on their own blog, website, social media sites, newsletter, or on an online bookstore. This is the best type of feedback because reviews help sell books.

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Help Your Audience Rediscover Binge Reading

Binge Watching. This phrase is now commonly heard. With streaming services, people are able to watch whole seasons of shows in one setting.

Binge reading. I think I have heard this phrase only once or twice as in “I binge read the Twilight series.”

Sadly, for authors, binge watching is popular and common, binge reading is not.

Help Your Audience Rediscover Binge Reading

Studies show that prolonged exposure to digital devices changes the way we think and behavior. This is because our brains are constantly rewiring themselves in response to our environment.

The amount of input we receive from digital devices is more than our brains can handle. As a result, we become comfortable with shallow attention—gleaning pieces instead of consuming the whole. The result is that many people are having more difficulty with remembering—often referred to as “digital dementia.”

Too much time spent immersed in digital media can rob us of the quality attention it takes to become immersed in the lengthy reading of a book. This is an obstacle that many authors face when trying to sell their books. Many people would rather just watch a video or listen to a podcast than read the book.

How can authors overcome this obstacle? I have two suggestions.

1.  Market to Readers

In addition to marketing to your target audience, focus in on the readers in your target audience and put some extra effort into marketing to these people. Most likely, the readers in your target audience are the individuals who have signed up to receive your information via email.

You can also market to readers in your target audience through book clubs and online social book cataloging websites such as:

2.  Recommend Books to Your Audience

Reading begets reading. Just as too much digital screen time decreases are ability to sustain deeper attention, reading increases our ability to sustain such attention. Readers like recommendations from people they trust. So, read and recommend books your audience might like to read (these would be books other than those that you have penned).BookfinityYou can also refer your readers to a book discovery website like the new one that Ingram Content Group has launched: Bookfinity.

Bookfinity helps book lovers choose their next “great read” and makes the discovery process both fun and easy and in the process, aiming to expand book discoverability, bolster book sales and get more great books in the hands of readers.

Be aware, that Bookfinity only recommends books that are in Ingram’s database. You can check to see if your books are included in Bookfinity by typing in your author name in the search bar on the website.

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Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

Nominations Now Open for the 2021 Christian Indie Awards

Go after awards. An award sticker on the cover may give you an edge, and sometimes that’s the difference you need to propel your book into best-seller territory.”  ~Scott Lorenz, Book Publicist

Winning an award does give you an edge when selling your book. Research shows that having an award sticker on a book’s cover makes a difference for buyers. When book buyers are presented with two books on the same topic and one is an award winner, book buyers consistently prefer the book that has won an award.

Nominations are now OPEN for the 2021 Christian Indie Awards. Any independently published author or small publisher can nominate a Christian book published in 2019 or 2020 for the award. Nominations can be made on the Awards’ website at

Check out these 10 reasons to nominate your book for the Christian Indie Awards!

10 Reasons to Enter a Book Award

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Supercharge Your Email Marketing

Social media is great for bringing awareness to you and your books and for connecting with your audience. Sadly, social media is not a big sales driver. Often authors see little return for the time and energy they invest in social media.

Email is not dead. It is still a growing channel. There are over 6.32 billion email accounts. That figure is predicted to reach 7.71 billion by 2021, which is a growth of more than 22 percent.

Email marketing has a much higher return on investment rate than other forms of marketing and advertising. In fact, 80% of companies say that email is their top channel for acquiring new customers. If you are serious about selling books, email marketing should be part of your marketing plan.

Check out these 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing in the infographic by Digioh, and start making your email marketing efforts more effective.

5 Ways to Supercharge your emails

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Are You Offering a Compelling Reason to Buy?

Why should I buy your book?

Have you ever been asked this question? I have, numerous times.

Why Should I Buy Your Book?

As humans, we need a reason to part with our money. We want what we spend our money on to benefit us in some way.

Are you giving your potential readers a compelling reason to purchase and read your book?

A compelling reason explains the benefit that your target audience will get by reading your book. Without a compelling reason, a buyer is left not knowing how your book can solve their problem. Each person who is unclear as to what your book will do for them is a missed opportunity for you.

If you want to sell more books, you need to be crystal clear about what a reader will get from reading your book.

To craft a compelling reason for someone to buy your book answer these questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What pain does your book address?
  • What is your solution to solve that pain?
  • What value or benefit does it bring to the buyer?
  • What are the results of implementing your solution?

Once you have answered these questions, put your answers together to make a compelling case for your book. Here is an example of what that might look like:

For (target audience) who have (insert problem/pain), get the help/answers (say what your solution is) that (state benefits and results of your solution).


For Grandparents who are separated by distance from your grandchildren, learn five easy strategies to stay connected and involved in your grandchildren’s lives using today’s technology. You can leave a Godly legacy that will have eternal impact.  

Do this for your book. Use this formula to craft a compelling reason to buy that captures the attention of your target audience helps move them to make a purchase.

Then use your “compelling reason to buy” statement in your book’s description, on your website, and in all your marketing materials. Give people a good reason to invest in your book. It’s smart marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Robin Higgins.