Selling Your Book by Giving it Away for Free

Email at symbolThere are a variety of ways to sell your books online and an effective approach is through the use of email marketing and free sampling.  Building an opt-in list of people interested in your work enables you to deliver customized messaging right to your audience.  A sure-fire way to get people interested in your book and to build an email list is by offering a portion of your work for free download in exchange for a name and email.

Deciding on Your Content

Obviously you don’t want to give away your whole body of work for free.  Select a portion of your work based on what it is for free download.  For instance you could include the first five chapters of your book.  If you have compiled a collection of short stories you could offer a handful of them for free.  Whatever you choose make sure it’s enough to build interest so subscribers are more likely to buy the book after the download.

PDF logoFormat

You’ll have to put your selected content in PDF form in order to make it available for download.  Usually exporting to PDF from whatever word processing program you’re using will work fine.  If you choose some other file format, make sure it is one that a broad section of users are able to view on their computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

Making Your Landing Page

This part will only work if you have a website to make a landing page for your list-building activities.  You can also use a free service like to make a simple blog/website.  You don’t have to possess any programming knowledge to pull this part off.

Landing PageA great tool to use is which is a landing page generation tool.  A basic plan is $37/month and it’s worth every penny.  You can design highly effective landing pages that are already built to maximize conversions for whatever your offer is (in this case free content from your book).

With the basic plan, pages are hosted with LeadPages and they integrate with existing self-hosted WordPress sites (with the addition of a free plugin) or free sites.  All styling, building of buttons, forms, writing of content and everything else is completely programming-free.

You can choose from among dozens of different templates which can be further customized to your liking.  If you upgrade to the $67/month plan, you can export an HTML version of your page for use wherever you want.

Building Your Email List

You can create a simple form from within Leadpages to capture name and email information.  You can also set it up to capture more information if you want.  Choose to have information populate within the Leadpages interface or you can integrate with one of many different auto-responder services such as Aweber or MailChimp.

EmailSending an Auto-Response Email

You’ll want to make sure you send at least one email to the people who give their name and email for your content download.  You can do this with one of the services mentioned above.  Include a link to the location where your PDF download is so that your readers can access it.

Now you have an email from someone who has shown interest in your book.  Remember to provide information about where they can purchase a print or full eBook version of your title.

Promoting Your Campaign

You’ll obviously need to promote your free download so you can start building a list with it.  If you have some money to put toward promotion that’s great but most self-publishers are working on a very thin budget.

Social media is a self-publisher’s best friend.  Promote your free download like crazy on your social networks and encourage others to share.  If you have a blog create call to action links at the end of blog posts or in the sidebar leading to the ebook download page.  If you participate in forums online promote your free download there as well.  Be creative and don’t miss an opportunity to tell people about it.  For example you can place a link in the signature of your email.

What strategies do you use to market your book?  Join in the conversation by commenting below.  
What strategies do you use to market your book?  Join in the conversation by commenting below.  

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