Saturday 1 April 2017

Newsletter Subscribers via #Instafreebie

Writers need readers – but where to acquire them? by Linda Acaster
page at
Despite nostalgia for the good old days, finding readers for one’s novels – mainstream published or indie authored – has always been an uphill struggle. My mainstream published friends spend a lot of time and effort, and a good amount of their hard-earned money, organising talks, readings, and book signings, appearing on local radio, and fighting for column inches in newspapers and magazines. Most also run Newsletters, some quarterly, some monthly, some using them only to announce the imminent launch of their new novel.

I run one myself, have for years. I try to make it chatty and relevant, with varying degrees of success. Despite having my Newsletter sign-up prominent on my website and at the front & back of my ebooks, new subscribers are few and far between. How do you twist people’s arms to join your Newsletter?

One method is by using Instafreebie. Better still is using Instafreebie and joining a group of same-genre authors in a cross promotion.

The underlying premise is to offer a “freebie” – short story, novella or even a novel – as an inducement for readers to sign up to your Newsletter. It’s up to you to keep them from unsubscribing by sending a short series of welcoming Newsletters with carrots attached. Think: what’s in it for the reader? Once readers become used to receiving your Newsletter emails and you’ve proved you aren’t going to waste their time, they are more likely to stay with you when moved to your monthly/quarterly Newsletter routine. is free for readers to join, or, if responding directly to a link to a particular book, they don’t have to join Instafreebie, just input their name and e-address into the linked book page – see above image of the page for my own “freebie”. Once the choice of format is selected the ebook will be delivered via the reader’s email in very sort order, complete with instructions on how to email or side-load the ebook to their e-reading device. Kindle e-readers are simple as the email is merely forwarded to the reader’s Kindle (Instafreebie is not allowed to email your Kindle direct).

For authors, Instafreebie is also free to join. Once signed up I received a dashboard to which I uploaded my chosen title – it has to be in ePub format – which is used as a master for delivering the ebook in all or any formats: mobi, ePub, or pdf. Rather like uploading an ebook to a distributor, genre and keywords are chosen to make it easier for readers searching the site to find your title.

The site collects the e-addresses of all readers who download the ebook, and these can be manually copied or downloaded via a csv file, the usual method of collecting lists. Instafreebie allots a link for each title to be used by the author for publicity. For instance, mine is sitting as a pinned Tweet in my Twitter feed.

As I already have a Newsletter I decided to sign up for the $20 a month Plus Account on a 30-day trial (there is no request for payment facilities on sign-up). This enables the e-addresses of readers to be sent directly into my account at Mailchimp, my Newsletter distributor. Beware: not using a verified Newsletter distributor, and instead using your own email client, is considered spamming and your email client could close your account to protect itself from falling foul of international laws.

Instafreebie has its own author forum where authors connect via genre for cross-promotion opportunities for more visibility of offered titles. There are also similar groups on Facebook, and on (Kindle forum boards).
Is this only suitable for indie authors? No. Unless an author has signed a particularly draconian contract with a publisher there will be leeway to produce a standalone novella or short story which can be used. Just ensure the short standalone is in the same genre as the published novels, and if possible using the same characters or setting. The title does not have to be available on any selling site, merely look professional.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet. I signed up on Thursday. Between inputting the necessary data, retiring to the kitchen for a cuppa, and returning to check I’d ticked all the necessary boxes, I’d acquired three readers’ e-addresses, and there's been a steady uptake ever since. I take part in my first Instafreebie cross promotion on 16th April. I’ll update this post afterwards.

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