The Toil that is Marketing – Free Days

Theoretically speaking, I have an idea what marketing is about. On one of my various forays into the working world, I ended up spending a year in an advertising agency. (By the way, can anyone tell me why it is advertising and not advertizing? No? Never mind.) Thus, I know what a target group is. I’ve heard the sentence ‘It’s the brand, stupid!’ I can even find something like beauty in a carefully crafted advertising campaign.

It still bores the hell out of me.

As a self-published author, though, you’ll find that there’s no way around it. They say a good book will sell itself. That’s not precisely true. You need to inform people first that it even exists.

Here’s where it starts to become difficult. Because, given that you are not a huge publishing company, your budget is limited to the point of nonexistence. Still, there’s a few things you can do.

I was strongly advised not to give my book away for free. It will avail you nothing, I was told. People will download it because it’s free, will never read it, nor leave a review, and if they do, they’re likely to leave a bad one ’cause they didn’t give a damn about your book, simply got it because it was free, and it wasn’t their genre, either. 10k downloads on a free day will result in one review, was the prevailing opinion.

I tried it anyway. Thrice.

The first two times I failed. Utterly. Something like 200 downloads at the most.

Upon publication of the sequel, and with a new, oh-so-much-more eye-catching cover, and a few more ideas where to announce the free days, I gave it another go. Three free days in a row. I spent hours filling in my book details on more websites than I’d care to remember. I ferreted out facebook pages where I could post a promo ad for free. I tweeted hourly, desperately copying catchy phrases from past reviews.

All the effort for around 3.5k downloads. The 10k figure reverberating in my brain, I despaired. bird-157000_640At the end of the third day, I was deader than the Monty Python parrot, and whisked myself away for a chill-out weekend.

When I came back, I logged into my Amazon account, expecting nothing at all.

And found that people had left reviews. Had started buying the sequel. Had even bought copies of the no-longer free first part of the series, and of my novella, too.

Conclusion? Marketing, as dull and mind-numbing as it is, can have gratifying effects. Who would have thought? I probably should do some more.


About angelikarust

My name is Angelika Rust. I was born in Vienna in 1977. These days, I live in Germany, with my husband, two children, a despotic couple of cats and a hyperactive dog. After having tried almost every possible job from pizza delivery girl to HR consultant, I now make a living knowing English. No, I haven’t yet figured out what I want to be when I grow up, whenever that may be. In the meantime, I write the occasional book.
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4 Responses to The Toil that is Marketing – Free Days

  1. Wonderful to hear it worked out so well for you. 🙂 While a good book does often struggle to sell itself (no matter how often I push mine out on the street corner, it refuses to flash a bit of leg), it’s nice to know that a good book can help to sell additional good books.


  2. Max China says:

    I’m so pleased you got some good results on your third attempt. Never give up. There’s no magic formula, but one thing is for sure, to paraphrase Vonnegut, If you do nothing, you get nothing. With regards to luck and hard work, I heard this once. The harder I work, the more luck I get!
    All the best,


  3. Pingback: The Toil that is Marketing – Free Days | cas meadowfield

  4. billheiden says:

    I am not in agreement with your unstated definition of marketing. But I understand why you might not like it, even if we define it well. The problem I described in my post ( ) is acute for artists when they don’t want to consider themselves in the “business of” art. They want to be artists.

    It is understandable, but if a writer wants to be read, they have to get into the business of writing.


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