by Molly Greene
October, 2015 closed on a sad note when former go-to ebook promo site The Midlistsold out to trad publisher HarperCollins and closed its doors to self-pubbers.
Mind you, owners of The Midlist can do whatever they want. They took the risk, they put up the money, they developed their lists – quite successfully – and they deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work. No doubt about it. So self publishers lost an important, valuable promotional tool in an industry where we have few enough options? Oh well.
Now they’re pitching their pricey new platform, Instafreebie, which offers ebook hosting – a place to park your file when you’re offering, for example, a free book to new email subscribers. Instafreebie has some good options, but I’m going to tell you about an alternative ebook hosting option.
Managing free ebook giveaways
Many authors offer a free ebook to readers who subscribe to their email lists. Say you include a link in every ebook offering the nextbook in your series FREE when the reader signs up for your email list. How do you get that book to these subscribers painlessly?
Or, what if you create a special promotion outside Amazon, giving away a particular book? Even distributing ARCs and beta readers files – how do you manage that? Wouldn’t it be super convenient to let someone else manage the distribution of free ebooks?
The drawback of self-hosted options
You don’t actually need a paid service to accomplish this. If the free book is always the same title, you can set up an autoresponder in MailChimp with the link to download that title. Or, you can create a separate folder in your Dropbox account and give readers access via a link to that. You can even host the file on your website and make it available for download there.
The drawback? You’ll have to spend time with confused folk who have issues getting the downloaded book(s) onto their reading device. According to my friend and fellow self-published author,Helen Hanson, who originally told me about BF, “I’ve hosted my free book on my website, but I had to hand-hold several people a week who couldn’t get the book on their ereader device.”
Enter BookFunnel, a platform that hosts books for freebie giveaways, and at a very reasonable cost. Their plans start at $20per year. Pricing depends on the number of books hosted and the number of downloads per month. BookFunnel lets you handle the sign-up part – which you should already have in place – and comes into play AFTER readers subscribe, but the cool part – besides the price – is that BF offers tech support that guides readers through the process and helps them figure out how to download your files so you don’t have to be involved.
I signed up for the $20/year plan and have already used it to provide free ebooks to winners of a Rafflecopter I participated in over the holidays. Easy peasy! And by the way, a reader messaged me on Facebook to tell me about BookFunnel, unaware that I was working on this post. She said it made the process so easy she wanted all authors to know about it … now that’s a testimonial!
BookFunnel vs. Instafreebie
Instafreebie, on the other hand, provides landing pages and signup processing, which BookFunnel does not. BUT, those plans start at$20/month. In addition, Instafreebie is promising, like so many others, to develop a discovery option that will help readers find your books.
Truth is, I don’t believe in sending my readers to third-party vendors and websites for discovery (unless it’s a proven promo site like Bookbub!). That’s the purpose of my Amazon Author Page, my periodic book promotions (ummm, no longer through Midlist) and my website. Other than Google, those are the only places I really want people to find me. That’s my personal strategy and business model, anyway, yours may be different.
Per Bookfunnel’s founder, Damon Courtney
“Getting the ebook file to a reading device can be frustrating for the reader who is accustomed to purchasing on Amazon and having the file show up on their device. BookFunnel provides individual instructions for each of the major devices (and some minor ones, too), and the download page changes depending on the device you visit with.
“Even so, sometimes, a reader STILL can’t access their book. In these cases, the reader can ask for help and an actual human at BookFunnel will walk them through the process of getting the file to ther device. Sometimes this is resolved in a single email, but not always. We hold their hand until they get the book. We haven’t lost one yet.
“We like to think that the download process through BookFunnel provides a much more professional experience than just emailing your books or putting them into Dropbox. While those methods will get the book to the reader, and some readers will then be able to get the book to their device, it still leaves a lot to be desired.
“I want every reader to get their book with as little friction as possible. I built BookFunnel because I hated watching readers struggle with getting book files onto their devices. A as a software developer, I see that as a problem with the software, not the user. It’s my job to make that better. At least, I feel like it is.”
BookFunnel step by step
- Go to BookFunnel, check pricing, click “sign up” on the plan of your choice or on the home page, then complete the purchase details.
- Get your login.BF doesn’t use passwords, they email a link you click to log in. You’ll need access to the email address you register with to log in.
- Add a book. You’ll need mobi and epub files, a cover image, short and long descriptions. NOTE: At this time, you can’t host a book without an epub file, even if you’re in KDP Select and exclusive to Amazon.
- Create a link. You can set download limits for a given link, create links that expire in a set amount of time, and create different links to use in different places, which allows you to track your success.
- Share the link … That’s it!
Authors, what are your thoughts? Have you tried self-hosting ebook giveaways on your site, or via MailChimp or Dropbox?
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