Last year, while promoting Modern Persuasion, some other authors gave me the advice to build a mailing list of readers. They sent me to Facebook groups where I could partner with other authors to share my books with their readers (and vice versa), but I soon realized I didn’t have nearly enough people on my list. Some had 5,000, others had 10,000, and I had 50 people on my list. They would insist their partners have mailing list minimums closer to their reach. I was amazed that these people could get so many people on their mailing lists. When I asked how I could do the same, I was told to give my book away for free in exchange for signing up for my mailing list. While I’ll talk about the free book issue in another post, today I want to share two of the different companies I’ve tried to help me share the book for free and grow my mailing list. I’ll share some tips I have for each and how I made my final decision between the two.
I started with Instafreebie because it had a 30-day trial on their service and it seemed the most economical for where I was. It cost $20 a month to be able to sync with your mailing list. When I first joined the service, I struggled to get people to notice my book. I couldn’t gain enough mailing list members. That shifted when I discovered their group giveaways. Group giveaways are a great feature that allows you to bundle your book with others around a theme and the group’s total reach drives large numbers of people to the giveaway and, as a result, my book. Within a few group giveaways, I saw my numbers rise quickly. It was well worth the $20, and within six months of this, I had grown my list to 1,000 members and gotten involved with a few Facebook Groups focused on romance readers. It was well worth the expense until my needs changed when releasing Phi Alpha Pi. A year of Instafreebie would cost $240. There was one drawback to this: you can only read through their app. You can’t download the format of your choice and read on the device of your choice.
NetGalley in the Mix
Things changed when I decided to try NetGalley for ARC copies to reviewers and readers. For $450 I could make the book available for an unlimited number of people over six months. This was a high expense, as I shared in my post about the value of NetGalley. I realized, toward the end, that in the long run, NetGalley wasn’t going to work for me as an author. I needed a service that allowed me to share with both NetGalley and non-NetGalley members. I wanted to be able to enter group giveaways, send prizes to giveaway winners, build a mailing list, and do ARC copies for reviews.
I tried BookFunnel when I wanted to give Phi Alpha Pi away to non-NetGalley readers. I decided to give it to all my mailing list members for free in hopes that I could get some reviews. The more I explored, the more I realized this was a resource that would help me manage all my needs. It had group giveaways; I could do advance reader copies, I could send personalized codes as prizes, and more. It was when I saw the cost that I realized this was the better investment, especially if I was going to need to upgrade my mailing list plan (more on that in another entry). For all the things I needed, it was only going to cost $150 a year. The main limitation on my account is how many downloads I can have in one month. The next level up, which is $200 a year, allows unlimited downloads. What I like the most, in contrast, is that you don’t need their app to read the books. You download in the format you need and read on the device you have.
My final decision
While the BookFunnel giveaways aren’t getting as much traction as the Instafreebie, it is doing much better all around. I won’t need to do NetGalley again. I can grow a mailing list and use those reads to write reviews. Just by giving it to my mailing list, I had more downloads. The reviews were a mix of NetGalley and BookFunnel readers, but I have to encourage more to leave reviews in the future. It was also helpful after the Phi Alpha Pi blog tour when I gave away 14 ebooks. I was able to send each a link that would only work for one download. Not all of them got their books, but I can always follow up and email it again. As far as the money goes, this year it will seem like a lot of money spent, but in the future, it will just be $150 – 200 instead of $700 for two different services. It might even make a difference in other tools I use since I have unexpected ways I can use it.
What about you? Have you gotten free books to read on Instafreebie or BookFunnel? Which do you prefer? Why? What about authors? Which one have you tried?