Self Publishing Podcast #45 – The Death of Free Book Promotion on Big Blogs?

http://selfpublishingpodcast.com – This is our live-streamed recording session for the Self-Publishing Podcast, episode #45: The Death of Free Book Promotion on Big Blogs?. Full show notes and the podcast audio recording are at http://selfpublishingpodcast.com/45

We stream our recording sessions live at roughly at 3pm Eastern time on Tuesdays, but we’re hardly professional enough to keep that schedule perfectly. You can subscribe to the Self Publishing Podcast in iTunes and the other big podcast directories. Please leave us a review or a comment in iTunes if you enjoy the show!

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We took some voicemails at the start of this one and you can listen to hear all about them (With Sean and Johnny working together, who won re: sending books to an editor? How did Johnny’s process change so he could write faster? And are we talking too damn much about strategy?), but this episode was super-heavy with newsworthy goodness, so let’s get started.

Are free book blogs dead… and if so, does authors’ abilities to promote well die with them?

Here’s the problem: Amazon just changed their affiliate program so that if 1) an affiliate pushes the download of over 20,000 free e-books in a month AND 2) 80% or more of the books that affiliate pushes are free books, the affiliate will earn $0 in commissions from Amazon for the month.

In case you didn’t know, this is how huge free book sites — the sites that push our books when we do KDP Select promotions — make money. The changes in the affiliate program are, essentially, requiring that those sites promote fewer free books. That’s bad news for us. Or is it?

This week, we had Ed Robertson back on to hash this one out.

There’s a ton of debate here and I won’t try to encapsulate all of it, but here are a few of the points that were raised during this show:

1. This doesn’t kill KDP Select free promotions. It just makes them less effective for people who might have been picked up by the big blogs but now will not be.

2. It might make sense to consider changing to discounted promotions rather than free promotions rather than free promotions for SOME AUTHORS in SOME CIRCUMSTANCES.

3. But, making your book free will still drive sales if you’re doing everything else right. There will just be fewer huge windfalls like those possible after a huge push of a book by Pixel of Ink or other sites.

4. Free is a tactic, not a strategy, and Sean and I both mention how gaming free promotions feels to us like playing search engine optimization (SEO) games. If it’s a trick, you can use it… but don’t base the success of your business on it, because it can change any time.

5. Because of that — and because it’s just common sense — the advice we give time and time again continues to apply: Write good books. Keep writing more books. Build a smart marketing funnel. Build and grow an email list. Be good to and take care of your fans. Those things will never, ever, ever change (although email may one day be replaced when the future arrives and we all get rocket cars) as long as people continue to enjoy stories.

6. The top 100 free charts still need to be filled by someone, as do the top 100 paid charts. They will be filled by the best books. For the best books, nothing changes here. That means that you must be awesome or go home. If you’re fantastic at what you do, the changing of any one tactic means exactly dick.

This episode is jam-packed. Study it like you have an exam coming up.

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