Promoting Your Kindle Book with a Giveaway on Amazon

Promoting Your Kindle Book with a Giveaway on Amazon

When we published “The Great PJ Elf Chase” through CreateSpace, they encouraged us to put our book into digital form as well as paperback form, so we could sell it  electronically on Amazon. We thought that was a good idea, so we joined the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program. We have taken Amazon up on the opportunity to offer our kindle book to readers for free for a limited time. Our promotion starts today and ends on Thursday, November 20th….so grab a free kindle-version of “The Great PJ Elf Chase” for the little ones in your lives by visiting our kindle book page on Amazon!

We’re hoping this promotion will boost sales of our paperback and hardcover books, as well. Maybe it’s something you’d like to try with your own book.

Why You Should Do a Giveaway Promotion

A giveaway is a means of letting readers become familiar with the works of authors, especially unfamiliar writers. If customers like what they read, hopefully, they will go on to buy other products, such as the paperback or hardcover versions of your book…or even past and future books. If you give readers a sample of what you’ve written, they just might want more.

How It Works

If your book is enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program, you can offer it free to readers for 5 days during a 90-day enrollment period. You choose the days to run your free promotion — either one at a time or for multiple, consecutive days. If you want your promotion to begin on a given day, the latest you can set it up is the day before the promotion starts. Unused days will not roll over to the next enrollment period.

What Amazon Gets Out of It

Amazon hopes to lure people to their e-reader devices, thus increasing their own sales. They don’t make any money from the free kindle sale of your book.

How it Affects Your Amazon Sales Rank

You will not earn royalties from your promotion, but you will likely increase your sales ranking on Amazon. Their Best Seller lists are divided into the top 100 paid and the top 100 free. During your promotion, you’ll be ranked on the free bestsellers’ list. When the promotion ends, within a matter of hours, your book enters the paid best-seller ranking, and this helps to get your title out to the public.

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 21: Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 21: Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Because “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition” is obviously a holiday book, our window for selling is rather small. Nobody buys a Christmas book in July. On the flip-side, we can gear up each year and repeat our efforts. Here are some of the marketing tools we tried our first selling season. Some we considered time and money well spent. Others, not so much.

Establishing a Website

When you have your manuscript ready to go, or even before that, you will definitely want to establish a professional-looking website. Remember, so many people will click on your web address and, many times, it will be their “first impression” of you and your book. We first researched how to create a website on our own. We chose to use which turned out to be a great decision. When we got hacked, largely due to our lack of knowledge, Blue Host came to the rescue at no charge. We also used WordPress and a company called “Elegant Themes” to keep the process simple. We even created a separate website that we thought would generate interest before our book was actually ready to go (see

After being hacked and experiencing some frustration on getting this website ( just the way we wanted it, we asked a friend who is in the business of website design to see what she could do. Wow! It was night and day between her magic and our fumbling through it. Well worth the money spent on getting the website to look great. Thank you, Jessica! ( So, while you are putting the finishing touches on your manuscript, get that website going. If we had to do a couple of things over, we probably would have hired Jessica right away. We also would have not named our website after our first book. Now that we are working on a second book, we realize we will have to do something about that issue very soon.

Creating Marketing Materials

There are so many aspects to marketing, but if you want to keep it simple, one thing you need to have is a business card. We were able to find fantastic deals at Vista Print. ( They have excellent customer service and user-friendly templates so that you can use your book cover as the art for the business cards. When we re-order, we will consider getting an “800” number so that our personal cell phone numbers are not floating around, along with a post office box. While we were on the Vista Print website, the temptation was there to go on a shopping spree. Keep your bottom line in mind. However, one good purchase we made was a medium vertical banner and stand which is of excellent quality. This makes a great backdrop for public appearances. We also purchased flyers, stickers, and even a canvas tote, all personalized with information about our book. Vista Print does not have bookmarks available so we had to use a different company for those. One thing we probably would not have purchased again were car magnets with the book cover on them. They did get some attention, but they also flew off of my car as I was riding down the street. Thankfully it was a side street near my house so nobody was hurt.

School Visits

One of the best evenings of our entire sales season was spent at a local elementary school. Their book fair was in full swing and the school had an evening set aside for parents to come and shop at the book fair. They invited me to come and read the book to any students who attended. Books were pre-ordered but also sold in person. First of all, it was fantastic to see the faces of kids listening intently to the story and wanting an autograph at the end of the presentation. Honestly, it brought a tear to my eye. Thrilling! Secondly, because we were selling the books in person, we were able to offer them at a discounted price. Even with the discount, it was possible to donate a couple of dollars back to the school for each book sold. We also donated a hardcover to the school library. Our intention for the next school year is to put much of our efforts into school visits, offering writing classes along with a book reading. Many authors charge for this service, but for right now, we are offering this for free. As former teachers, it is great fun to be back with the students.

Selling to Local Bookstores

We’ve had some of you ask about the profit margin when selling to the local bookstores and toy stores. Let’s just say that we won’t be doing that again next year. While we appreciated the concept of product “branding”, we felt that we just couldn’t compete with the prices on books traditionally published. By the time the stores got their cut, we typically made almost nothing. However, we can say that the book was well-received enough to be chosen by some fabulous stores and that was a feather in our cap. We will continue to do business with those stores that already have our book on their shelves.


If you hear that 20,000 people will be walking by a table with your book displayed and you just have to pay $700 for the table, would you take that risk? Well, we couldn’t resist trying it. Would we do it again? No, we would not. We sold about 50 books over a weekend at a Christmas Expo in Denver, but because the booth charge was so high, we lost money in the end. We lost time and we lost money but we learned a valuable lesson. Expos are not for single book sales.

Online Advertisements

We put a small amount of money into Facebook ads and Adwords. We did not see that paying for ads was beneficial. We did feel that the Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts are something we will continue to use. Also, we believe that one of best ways to reach a larger audience is through our website, including this blog. Thanks for reading!

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 19: Reflecting on Our First Christmas Selling Season

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 19: Reflecting on Our First Christmas Selling Season

Ahhhh….Christmas is over. We’ve taken a break from marketing our book, and it’s time to sit back and reflect on what we accomplished during the past couple months.

I’ll start by saying that our book wasn’t in print until the end of October, which resulted in a  late start for the 2013 Christmas selling season. This did limit our options. Nonetheless, we sold hundreds of books in that short time period — not bad for a couple of novices!

We started by going to a book show in Colorado. You can read about our experience in this blog post.

It is very exciting to walk into a bookstore and see The Great PJ Elf Chase on the shelf, as it is in this picture taken at “The Tattered Cover” bookstore in Denver.

cropped pj elf book on shelf at tattered cover (2)

Having our own website set up ahead of time was definitely a plus for sales. Not only could interested persons go to the website to buy the book, but they could also find more information about the authors and the process of self-publishing a children’s picture book. Many of the sales on our website came from family, friends and word of mouth. The support was overwhelming, and we are thankful. Our publisher, CreateSpace (CS), also sets up a web page for its authors, but since they don’t sell hardcover versions of books, we needed to focus our energy on our own website. is the only place online where customers can buy a hardcover version of the book. We do all the packing, shipping and invoicing.

We sold a respectable amount of paperbacks on Amazon as well. It was exciting to see books being sold every day on Amazon; however, it was frustrating not knowing who bought them! The only information we received is whether the purchaser lived in the U.S., England or another country. Yes, we did get a handful of orders from other countries. The major advantage to selling on Amazon is that they do all the work — packing, mailing, receipts, and so on. We just go to our CS link to see how many books we’ve sold each day. The royalties are paid on a monthly basis.

We contacted book stores in Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and were pleased that our book landed on the shelves of ten stores. We are in the process of following up to see how well they fared. In some cases, we sold the books to the store owners outright. In others instances, we placed the books in the store on a consignment basis. Each venue had its own preference and guidelines. Although this wasn’t as profitable as other methods, we felt the bookstore exposure was an asset.

Our book was reviewed online a few times. You can read some of those reviews here. We also purchased a promotional spot on the LeRue Press radio show, “Book Hound,” in Reno, NV. For $35, we received 6 book “mentions” on air. Additionally, articles about our book appeared in a nationally-syndicated column and in two newspapers. The Great PJ Elf Chase will also be mentioned in our universities’ correspondence to their alumni members. We plan to expand our reach next season, as it’s great to get cheap or free advertisements!

The recurring theme of this self-publishing journey is that we learn something new every step of the way. Writing the book is only half the battle. Marketing is the other half. We are pleased with our results this year, but we’re going to use the knowledge we’ve gained to make bigger, better strides for Christmas, 2014.

If you are someone who now has The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition on your bookshelf, we appreciate your support.



Self-Publishing a Children’s Book 16: Marketing

Self-Publishing a Children’s Book 16: Marketing

Now the hard work begins. Writing the book, designing the interior and cover…all of that was so much fun. But Marketing? If we don’t get ourselves up-to-date with the best practices, all of this has really been nothing more than a cute little project.

Our first step is to get our social media outlets onboard. You can now visit us at;;; and Google+. Phew! This is a lot to keep up with and it’s tough to get the hang of what is too much or too little in the world of social media.

Our next step is to blanket our local areas. We’ve approached bookstores, toy stores, clothing stores, Christmas stores…you get the picture! We’ve had good luck getting our book into several stores already. We have decided not to worry about the percentage of profit we give up to have our book in those stores. The main thing is that this book is getting into the hands of readers.

The time, effort, and money we’ve given to our website has been completely worth it in our minds. This website really is our first point of contact for so many potential buyers of our story. If our website did not look professional, we probably would not get that initial meeting with the store owner. Thank you, Jessica Zeigler!

We’ve used the services of Vistaprint for business cards, large signs for shows, flyers, book bags, and stickers. They are reasonable and do really great work. They even sent us 100 free flyers when there was an error in something we purchased. We ordered bookmarks and Santa hats for all of our personal appearances and for our pre-orders. But not from Vistaprint. They do not sell bookmarks. We had to find a place online to order those.

We are scheduled to a be a vendor at the Colorado Country Christmas Gift Show. This is a huge event with an expected 25,000 attendees. You know we will blog about this in the very near future! If you are in Denver, come and see us at the Denver Mart, November 8-10th.

We have an exciting day planned on November 19th at a local school in Littleton, CO. We can’t wait to see all of the kids reading our new book!

We are off and running!

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 12: Designing the Cover

Self-Publishing a Children’s Picture Book 12: Designing the Cover

We know front and back covers play a key role in whether or not children and their parents are attracted to books. We want the front cover of “The Great PJ Elf Chase” to be especially colorful and eye-catching. We looked at many children’s books — especially those with Christmas themes — to decide what appealed to us. We found that method to be very helpful. When we communicated with the CreateSpace design team, we pasted pictures into our notes of different elements from these book covers that we liked. This gave them a clearer idea of our vision.

We chose to duplicate two illustrations from the interior of our book to use on our front and back covers. One reason we did this was so that we wouldn’t have to pay for additional illustrations! We debated long and hard about which picture would look best on the front cover. We changed our minds a few times, but since our title includes the word “chase,” we went with a picture of our character, Ben, running.

It wasn’t easy to decide on the wording for the back cover. It has to be succinct, yet enticing. We wrote and rewrote — hopefully, our end result and the book summary will intrigue a lot of readers!

Less than a week after we submitted our design suggestions, CS sent us two cover concept options for both the front and back covers. We loved them! It was exciting to see how our book might actually look when it’s in print! We liked parts of each concept, so we opted to combine the features.

We should receive the modified cover design within the week. Hopefully, we won’t need to make any more changes and can move forward in this process.

When our book is finished, it will receive a Kirkus Review. CS assured us that if we want to include a reviewer’s quote in the future, we can add it to the back cover text at any time.
Reviews?!! If we think about that now, we’ll go crazy!!