Paying to Give It Away

Promotion is such a strange game. From now through Sunday (August 14th), I am actually paying to give my book away.

I’ve done quite a bit to promote Goodnight Sunshine. Not a lot by modern marketing standards, but I’ve done what I can with the time and resources I have. Now I’m trying something strange: paying to advertise that I’m giving away my e-book on Amazon. And the best part … I had to convince a reputable advertiser to take my money to tell people about the giveaway!

This was my third attempt to tap into a list of subscribers who look for e-book giveaways — my first two attempts, with, were turned down for reasons unknown. Based on their advertising criteria, I assume it had to do with either my lack of reviews or the fact that the Goodnight Sunshine e-book is only available for Kindle.

So, let’s see … I put my e-book on Kindle Select — which means it must be exclusively available on Kindle for 90 days — so that I could give it away for up to 5 of those 90 days (you can’t just make your Kindle e-book free anytime you want to). I am trying to give away the book to get more readers, in the hope that some of them will review it. I am advertising to make sure people know it’s available, but the best e-book advertisers (those who have a loyal following of subscribers) require that you have plenty of reviews, and some want you to be selling e-books on multiple sites. But Amazon/Kindle is the dominant player in e-book sales, at least in the United States, and they set strict rules about exclusivity and giveaways.

I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail for weeks. But here I am … poised to give away as many e-books as I can. I can only hope that a small portion of the 120,000 people who will see Goodnight Sunshine as their “Free book of the day” (this Sunday on will download it; that a small percentage of those downloaders will read it; and that a small percentage of that small percentage of a small percentage will post a review for it. Then, with all those reviews I get, I might be able to qualify to pay even more money to give away my books to more people!

I’m not really that pessimistic. I see value in getting my book into as many readers’ hands as possible, and I trust that the platform I am building now will serve me well in the future. But this whole promotional game is kind of silly, and I can’t help feeling a bit trapped by the machine that Amazon has created. I would far rather be dealing with smaller players — independent booksellers and distributors — but that comes with its own set of challenges. For now, I am learning how the machine works … and paying for my education.

Oh yeah, about that Kindle giveaway … if you’re looking for a free e-book, you can download my novel by clicking on one of the following links or searching for “Goodnight Sunshine” on almost any Amazon site:

Goodnight Sunshine on Amazon USA

Goodnight Sunshine on Amazon Canada

* Image courtesy of: Nick Youngson –

4 thoughts on “Paying to Give It Away

  1. Hey Mark,
    Tried to download last night but the site was just pulling me into a start your free 90 day trial of the kindle unlimited App that costs $9.99 a month. Is there an app that works around this?


    1. Hi Mark. I think I know what happened. There are a couple of different ways you can get the book: Kindle Unlimited (a paid subscription program) which allows you to download any Kindle Select books for free (for a set period of time); and “Buy Now” for $0.00 — which is the current free giveaway. Using the latter approach, you should be able to get the book (to keep) for free. Amazon can certainly be confusing…


  2. A cautionary tale for all authors. After you’ve done this for several years, written your heart out, poured your time and money into your craft, someone will consider you an overnight success and “lucky”.
    Stick to it Mr. Lucky.



    1. Thanks for your words of encouragement, William. I feel very lucky to have such great blog followers! 🙂
      Mr. Lucky


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