Looking for an article on Instafreebie? It’s called Prolific Works now.
Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) is a site that gives ebooks away free to anyone who wants them. That sounds nice for readers, but not great for authors, except that the giveaway comes with a sweet little wrinkle.
Because, to collect their free ebook, readers must give you – the author – their email address.
Here, for example, are what Prolific Works giveaway pages look like. You’ll see there’s a book cover. A “come and get it” headline. And an easy sign-up form.
PW isn’t really a way of giving away books, then, rather a way to give away books in exchange for an email address.
And since presumably no one downloads a British-set crime novel unless they are interested in reading British-set crime novels, the email addresses you collect are from the reader group you are seeking to target.
Expert tip: when you set up your giveaway page, you’ll be asked whether you want to oblige readers to sign up to your email list, or whether you’re fine making it optional. In the old days, we used to urge people to make the sign-up mandatory, but with changes to the system post-GDPR rules, we now advise you to make the email list signup optional. Conversion rates will be lower, but those will be balanced out by much better visibility. So – sorry – but optional it is.
People will come to your giveaway page in one of two ways.
You’ll have directed them there, via your blog, your social media activity, and all the rest.
PW will highlight new, interesting giveaways using its own resources (it’s had millions of downloads from its site already and the firm only started in 2014).
And who does Prolific Works choose to highlight? Just those authors who are most active in promoting their work. The more you do, the more they’ll do for you. It’s win-win.
Expert tip: if you’re active on social media, use @prolific_works or in your Tweets. If you’re doing other good things, just drop them a short summary email so they can see what you’re up to, but don’t let your good work go unnoticed. You don’t need to badger them, though. Stay professional, not needy.
Why the book for email exchange is good (even for ‘lazy’ authors)
You and PW between you will promote your giveaway page. The reader gets a book. You get an email address. What next?
You don’t want to spam or abuse the trust of that reader. You wouldn’t make money if you did, so how do you – honestly and honourably – use your ability to make direct contact with that reader?
Even if you’re almost totally passive on Prolific Works, you might make some money. Let’s say you get readers’ email addresses on them downloading books from PW. You do nothing straight away, but when your next book comes out, you email everyone on your list – including those PW readers – to say, ‘Hey, my new book is here, do come and get it’ (or words to that effect).
That strategy is low-effort, but it can be rewarding in three ways:
Your PW readers may love that book and go out and seek your other work on Amazon.
Your PW readers may buy your new book when you come to launch it.
The added weight of those PW readers will help boost your sales rank on launch, and that higher sales rank will mean higher overall visibility on Amazon, which means more eyes looking at your book, which means higher sales.
That’s how PW can work for you, even if you’re not fussed about using it actively. And perhaps you’re lazy like me, but you don’t have to be disorganised, right?
Let’s look at a more engaged, active strategy.
Expert tip: Read the next section. Do what it tells you!
Why the book for email exchange is brilliant (for ‘lazy’ authors)
The trouble with Lazy Strategy is simple.
People float around the internet all the time. They click buttons, collect free stuff, add themselves to random mailing lists.
Where’s the bond, though? The relationship? The loyalty?
Often, it’s not there. People will forget where they got the book from and quite likely forget your name as well. Easy come, easy go. That’s the problem you must overcome.
Don’t just use Prolific Works to give away your books. Use your mailing list to cement the bond. You want to turn a user download experience into a proper relationship.
So how do you do that? How do you do it easily? We all like an easy life, so we replace our Lazy Strategy above with Astute Strategy:
Reader downloads book from PW.
You get their email address.
Immediately, send out an email to welcome that reader. Say something like, ‘Hey. You just downloaded a book from PW. I’m so happy you did. Here’s a little bit of blurb to tell you about the book. I really hope you enjoy it. Oh, also watch out for another email from me tomorrow, because I’ve got another gift for you, it’s free, and I think you’re going to love it.’
The next day, send out an email with another freebie. It doesn’t have to be more than a short story, and you say, ‘Here’s your next gift. And here’s a little bit of text about me, the author. Oh, and I’ve got one more gift for you, so keep watching your inbox.’
Then, a little bit later (I leave it two days), you send an email which says, ‘Now you’ve had two freebies from me. I hope you loved them. Now here is a free bit of a full-length novel, #1 in the series. If you read that and enjoy it, it’s available over here on Amazon.’ And the book should be hyperlinked, available at an attractive price, probably no more than $2.99 for that first one.
The beauty of this approach is multi-dimensional:
You automate. Set up and activate those emails via an ‘Autoresponder’ on your email service. If you use Mailchimp, then just click the “Automation” tab, and set up a new workflow. It’s quite straightforward. I’m hardly Mr Tech, and I find it easy.
You build connections. Turn that here-today-gone-tomorrow download experience into the start of a more authentic bond between reader and author.
You put the book into their hands. If they read a third of your full-length novel and love it, they’re not going to resent the small extra that enables them to complete the journey. And if they get that far, that reader’s interest means they’ll be interested, all being well, in hearing news on the rest of your series.
You get committed readers standing by to support your next launch. The advantages of the mailing list driven launch are still available – as before – only with this strategy, you should expect better conversion rates, because you’ve done more to nurture your bond with the reader.
This approach lies at the heart of pretty much every successful indie author strategy, and I can’t stress enough that you need to follow it – with care – if you want to succeed.
Expert tip. Don’t try to go it alone! Did you know that Jericho Writers is a club for writers like you? We’ve gone overboard in trying to make our membership as rich and useful to you as it can possibly be. So we’ve taken our super-premium video course on self-publishing . . . and made it free to members.
Yep. A totally comprehensive course on self-publishing totally free.
And our complete 17-video How To Write course – one with a gazillion awed reviews from super-enthusiastic users – that’s free too. And everything else as well.
We built our club to offer incredible value to writers like you, and we’d genuinely love you to come on board. You can find out more about what we do here. And honestly? We think it could be the best move you ever make.
How to get even more from Prolific Works: Astute-but-Social Strategy in action
So far, so good – but, so far, our strategy has been quite solitary. We haven’t teamed up with anyone. We haven’t developed any real synergies from joint action.
In fact, we’re going to ditch the Astute-but-Solo strategy in favour of the Astute-but-Social one. The idea is that you team up with authors in your genre to co-promote books. Readers will eye ones that best fit their tastes (so readers will be well-targeted), and since they may download several books from the range offered, you’ll also increase your downloads beyond what you could achieve for yourself.
The other reason social giveaways work is that PW itself loves them. It’ll heavily promote group giveaways, because they offer much to their own readers, meaning total traffic to those pages can be huge. Make sure, as before, that PW knows about the giveaway, but if they know about it, assuming participating authors are active, results should be great.
An expert tip: Don’t know other authors in your genre? Search PW forums to find a group to join. If your book looks half sensible, they’ll be delighted to have you.
What does Prolific (Instafreebie) cost and is it worth it?
PW presently offers three pricing bands as follows: a basic free plan, a package of US$20 a month, or US$50 a month.
You’ll need to research each of these, but you’ll likeliest want to pay the $20 a month, the plan that integrates all those downloads with your mailing list – since, if you don’t get those emails, this strategy is defunct and, unless you writer under a lot of pen names, you probably don’t want to pay the $50.
That’s what it costs, but do the results give you back those twenty bucks of value?
And, here let me report the experience of J.N. Chaney, who compares her experience with Facebook advertising with her experience on Prolific Works (then Instafreebie).
Her Facebook budget for an ad being $23 a day, giving its average of 49 subscribers per day (at an average cost per lead of $0.51), didn’t compare to PW at $20 per month, with its average of 84 subscribers per day (at a cost per lead of $.0076).
So is it worth it?
It’s worth it if:
Your book is good enough to grip and retain readers.
You have some short freebies to give away.
Your book cover is strong enough to attract interest.
You are willing to pay $20 a month.
You have a morning or so to spare, clipping all these parts together.
Or, to put it another way, your email list is the foundation for everything else in your self-pub career: the very first blocks in the wall. And PW gives you that precious way to get things started. It’s kind of insane not to give it a go.
How Prolific works and what to do next
Well, two things.
Number one, hop over to Prolific Works and sign up.
Number two, create your giveaway page. (A process that’s so spectacularly simple you don’t need us to talk you through it.)
5 golden rules of Prolific Works
Here’s Ashley Durrer, Director of Business Development at Prolific, with her own golden rules for success.
Over to you, Ashley.
1. Do you already have some fans? Make them your biggest.
I love learning how different authors approach engaging fans. Once you have subscribers, it’s so important to show them how much you value them. Respond to each reader email personally. Think about how you would feel if your friends forgot about you. The same feeling can be applied here. So take advantage of “The Lazy but Astute Strategy”. Remember your fans, reward them, and make them feel special. In the future, you can surprise them again with short stories, or novellas about one of your characters.
2. Link Prolific to your website or blog.
Link your PW Author page to your website or blog for a more engaging landing page, where readers can sign up to your mailing list. Now you can share all your active, public giveaways with a single link, including book descriptions, bio, social media, and more with readers. It’s important to us that you can communicate with readers.
3. The Big Secret: Make your giveaway campaign “Shareable”.
The big secret at PW is that we fully believe in reciprocity. You share, and we share. If you check the “shareable” checkbox when making a giveaway campaign, we will connect your campaign with the right readers. The more you connect with, the more we accelerate your work.
4. Take care of the reader. Relationships matter.
Sometimes readers receive too many emails or requests to buy work. Maybe they receive too many emails in general. A good rule of thumb for emailing readers: maximum of one email a week to readers. These activities will help reduce spam reports and high unsubscribes.
5. Make unsubscribing easy and focus on readers who stay.
No one likes being tattled on, reported, or blamed for spam. We also know that we can’t please everyone in the world. Let’s all do our best, and give everyone the opportunity to easily unsubscribe. If you aren’t a right fit, that’s okay. It’s better to have the right readers instead of more of the wrong readers. You can make it easy for them to move on, and get back to the people who really care about you.
We built a club for writers like you. We think you’ll really love it, and get a ton of value out of it. Are we right? Or are we wrong? I don’t know, but you’ll need to go here to find out.
About the author Harry Bingham has been a pro author for twenty years and more. He’s been trad published and self-published, and hit bestseller lists via both routes. He’s also had his work adapted for the screen, has had a ton of critical acclaim, and been published all over the world. (More about Harry, more about his books.)