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My author friend Autumn Birt recently shared her results with promoting a free book on various smaller promo site. Specifically, she wanted to test her hypothesis that by submitting two different free books (one fantasy and one thriller) on several free advertising sites every day for 30 days, by the end of the period she would see a greater number of downloads compared to the previous 30 day period, when she was doing no promo whatsoever.

So, what happened?

Amazingly enough, the hypothesis was proven wrong! When she compared the two months, there was little improvement:

Autumn Birt Promo Results | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image by Autumn Birt

In fact, as she points out, if you look at total downloads from the control month versus the 30 days of free promo… well, can you tell which bar is for which month?

Autumn Birt Promo Results | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image by Autumn Birt

What went wrong?

I have to admit, her findings took me aback. There seems to be little to be gained from spending the extra time submitting to all these free promoters. Also, as Autumn points out, she doesn’t even know if any of those sites actually used her submission. Most have no communication after submission. So there really is no easy way to know if her books were featured. And some of these sites were cluttered with advertising, and make no promise to get in touch with you but still want your email… you really have to ask yourself, why do they want it? In fact, she knows for a fact that at least one of those websites sold her email right away. Because as well as unsubscribing to about 20 newsletters, she’s been getting some crazy offers for an assortment of items she never signed up to receive – including an igloo cooler!

Some good news

The good news is that she did find (shortly after the experiment was over) one site which was free, communicated the date the book would be featured, looked great, acted 100% above board, and resulted in 198 downloads… what is it? My Book Cave. You can take a look at how the various promos she tried worked out here:

Autumn Birt Promo Results | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image by Autumn Birt

For more information on her experiment and methodology, be sure to check out Autumn’s full post on her blog.