Tomorrow is the last day To the North will be part of the Amazon KDP program, which means it will no longer be exclusive to Kindle, no longer available on Kindle Unlimited or as part of Lending Library, and I will no longer be able to push it out for free a few days every quarter.

I’ve already pre-released it on other platforms through Smashwords (B&N Nook, Apple Books, etc.) and it will be officially released on December 21, the 1-year anniversary of the initial release. I like round numbers.

I’d never planned to do much marketing the first two years of this adventure – my method is write, write, write, and worry about trying to sell it later. However, I did take advantage of the free days I got through membership in KDP. It was pretty much the least amount of effort I could put out, and it got me results. In the last year, I have given away 599 copies of To the North for free on Kindle (which is really agitating that part of my brain that likes round numbers. JUST ONE MORE, DAMNIT).

Giving away eBooks for free is great, because it costs me nothing. I’ve done a few paperback giveaways through Goodreads, which are also great for different reasons, but every hard copy I give away costs me actual money – money that could be spent on rent or internet access or fancy cheese instead. I have to pay for the books themselves (I actually purchase them through Amazon instead of getting “author” copies from Createspace – since I get free Prime shipping, it ends up costing me only a dollar more per copy once I get my royalty back, and it boosts my sales rating), and then pay for shipping. When I had several giveaway winners in the UK, I was out about $30 for each copy I sent. And ask me how many of them posted a review.

Go on. Ask.

So even though I wanted to start expanding my reach by offering the eBook on different platforms, I still wanted a way I could give away copies of the book that wouldn’t put me in the poor house.

Very rarely, when the planets align just so and the light of the moon is just right and the temperature is so perfect you can’t tell where your skin ends and the air begins, magic can enter the world. And in these fleeting moments, boys and girls, the impossible – nay, even the unimaginable and unthinkable – can happen:

In moments such as this, the comments section on a website can actually be useful.

One of these spectacularly improbable events occurred when I was looking into Goodreads’ new eBook giveaway option. While in beta now, it promises independent authors the ability to give away up to 100 copies of their eBooks at a time once launched. Of course, it all looked very appealing, until I found the small print. There’s a fee, and a fairly sizeable one for any struggling indie author.

Grumbling incoherently, I scanned down the comments section to see if anybody else thought it was exorbitant (they did). And then one post caught my eye – somebody mentioned that they couldn’t see the point of paying Goodreads for an eBook giveaway when another platform called LibraryThing lets you give 100 copies away for free.

So I checked it out. I’d never heard of LibraryThing before. It’s similar to Goodreads, though obviously smaller and decidedly less sophisticated. But the giveaway option seems solid, and they really emphasize adding reviews for any books you receive. While they obviously can’t require it, they say on their website that if you win a book in a giveaway and don’t review it, it will hurt your chances of winning again.

Come January, I’ll be trying this method out. I doubt I’ll have a lot of movement, since the platform is so much smaller and really depends on the authors promoting their own giveaways, but it’s something. Giving away free eBooks of To the North has been just about the only effort I’ve made all year with consistent payoff, and I don’t want to lose that momentum full stop. My hope is that I’ll slowly build up enough feedback over the next year that when I do start trying to actively market my books in 2018, I’ll have a decent base to jump from.



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