Free Book Promotions: Are They Worth It?

POSTED ON Oct 5, 2016

Frances Caballo

Written by Frances Caballo

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The continuing controversy among self-published authors is whether you should sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing’s Kindle Select Program and use the free promotion feature.

The secondary questions are:

  • Is it worth it to be exclusive?
  • Are the free promotion days that tend to entice some authors – and readers – worth it?

There seem to be almost as many opinions on these controversies as there are, well, books. So what’s my take?


I followed thriller authors Joanna Penn and Nick Stephenson’s advice. I listed two of them (Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads) in the Kindle Select Program.

While Penn and Stephenson are both advocates of publishing from a wide variety of platforms (Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, etc.), the first several, they say, should be exclusive to Amazon and its Kindle Select Program (KSP).

The huge downside to KSP is once you make that check mark indicating you’re in the program, you’re automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (KU). And once you’re in KU, you’re not paid by book sales but by pages read.

For some authors, that can elicit a groan because the difference in how you’re paid can be huge.

Let me explain. How many of you have purchased books and let them sit on a crowded bookshelf or in a stack of books on your desk without ever reading them or at least delaying opening the first page for a few months? Or even a year?

I know that I’m guilty of this.

In my case, even though I was selling a fair amount of books, the money I earned didn’t match up.

So if you want to be paid by books sold, avoid KSP and Kindle Unlimited. But if you want to offer free Amazon book promotions, you can’t avoid them.

Now there’s that other question to consider. Is giving away ebooks worth it?

I’ve never been a huge fan of KSP promotions but not because I don’t give books away – I give paperbacks away all the time. And I’m a big believer in giving away books to aid awareness and garner more book reviews.

freeMy issue with free book promotions is that they never seem to work as well for me as they do for bestselling authors. Maybe it’s because I write nonfiction. And maybe it’s because authors who serialize their books sell a heck of a lot more books than I do.

Despite my reservations, I gave it a go and joined KSP. And I scheduled a free promotion.

In addition to using social media and my email list to alert my readers and followers about the sale, I also paid for some lists. But first I had to research them.

This is what I discovered:

Books Butterfly

I’ve heard that the Top 200 Push or the Pure Wild Card or Super Slot options are the best. Those options range from $80 to $120.

Some of the benefits are that Books Butterfly has 241,788 email subscribers, and they have more than 170,000 Twitter followers.

My thoughts: Considering the size of the email list, the pricing seems fair. What you don’t know is how many of those readers prefer romance or historical fiction or science fiction let alone nonfiction.

EReader News Today

To qualify for EReader News Today, review these restrictions:

  • Your books need to be available on They also promote book deals that are available at Barnes & Noble/Nook, Google Play, Apple iTunes and Kobo.
  • Your books must be priced at $0.99 or be on sale.
  • Your books are required to be a full-length book, in other words, at least 125 pages. There are exceptions for children’s, nonfiction, and cookbooks.
  • You can’t run two promotions within 90 days.

Also, EReader has further considerations:

  • The cover must appear professional.
  • EReader will look at your reviews to see how well readers have liked it.
  • Your book must be professionally edited.
  • The larger the discount, the better chance you’ll have at your book being accepted.
  • EReader won’t post erotica, pornography, books that contain controversial subject matter, or books that may be considered offensive to any race, gender, or religion.
  • EReader does reserve the right to deny a book.

My thoughts: A Goodreads group that I belong to gave this service a high rating, and I plan to use it for a book I’ll release near the end of the year.

Fussy Librarian

To be considered:

  • You must have ten reviews and a 4.0 rating on Amazon, 11 to 19 reviews and a 4.0 rating, or 20 reviews and a 3.5 rating.
  • If you have ten reviews, they should be split between Amazon’s various stores — such as the U.S. and the U.K. Reviews must be from Amazon.
  • You book needs to be priced at a price of $5.99 or less on the day of the promotion.

My thoughts: I like the fact that this service accepts ebooks priced at $5.99. However, it might be difficult for some authors to get reviews from the U.S. and the U.K. And some indie authors have a hard time getting reviews. But Fussy Librarian is a solid outfit and one that I’ll consider with future books.


BookSends has these minimum book requirements:

  • Your book must have at least five reviews with a high overall average, and
    an attractive cover.
  • You must offer a discount of least 50% off the full price, and it must be less than $3.
  • You may submit one book at a time.
  • BookSends won’t feature the same book more than once every 90 days.
  • You need a planned sale price of less than $3 and at least 50% off full price.

My thoughts: I used BookSends and spent $100. It was easy to sign up for it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell whether this service helped more than the posts I added to social media or the emails I sent but I suspect that it did.


Here are some tips:

  • Use for free and bargain books between the price of $0.99 and $5.
  • You can feature the same title every 30 days.
  • Unlike some services, they accept permafree books, short stories, books with no reviews, and erotica.
  • They look for well-written and well-formatted books.
  • FreeBooksy reaches more than 150,000 readers.
  • FreeBooksy has several features including a free Facebook app to add to your Facebook author page.

My thoughts: I haven’t used this service, but I like the fact that I don’t need to offer my book for free, and I like the Facebook app feature.

The eReader Café

It’s great that this service is free but its list is just 80,000, a paltry number compared to other services.

eReader Café does offer a Book of the Day list, and that costs $35. The services notes the best-selling genres (romance, mystery, thrillers, contemporary, Christian, Historical, memoir) and indicates that the bestselling price point is between $0.99 and $2.99.

My thoughts: If you’ve written a book in the genres they specify, this service might be worth trying once.


Here are some guidelines:

  • Your book must have good reviews and “substantial positive acclaim.”
  • Your discount needs to be at least 50%.
  • You’ll need to write an “enticing” summary to be accepted.

My thoughts: There are different pricing structures for different genres, ranging from $25 to $100. Their email reaches 70,000 subscribers, and they accept 23 genres. I think there are better deals out there.


This service will submit your book to more than 45 sites for just $35. For $25 it sends your book to 25 websites.

My thoughts: I think this service is a no brainer and quite a deal.


I learned about this service from Howard VanEs, a book marketing consultant. He says that the Executive package, at the cost of $379, is worth every penny.

What I know is that for $379, FreeBookService will send your book to 15,000+ worldwide readers over a 24 to 48 hour period. The company offers lower packages and for $1,499 you can promote your book when it costs $0.99. That promotion will last 72 hours.

My thoughts: This is a pricey service especially considering the small list counts, but some people swear by it.

Reading Deals

For $29, Reading Deals will submit your free and bargain-priced ebook to its list of 35,000 readers and tweet it to 120,000+ followers.

My thoughts: I thought this service was a good deal and used it, and I would use it again. It came highly regarded from a marketing consultant I know.

My Results

At the end of my free book promotion, my book was in the bestseller ranking in my three selected categories.


Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you like the Kindle Select Program, and if so, why?

Photo: Pixabay

Frances Caballo

Written by
Frances Caballo

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