Mark O'Neill

90% of what I do is daydreaming. The rest is typing.

giveaway sign reader freebie

Deciding on the reader freebie

Nobody is going to hand over their private email address without something enticing in return.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Today, we’re going to talk about the reader freebie. This is the thing that entices people to give up their private email address to you in return for a present. Everyone loves something for free, but in this day and age of email spam, and social media selling sensitive user information, people naturally closely guard their email address.

Who can blame them? These days, you never know who your identity and preferences will get sold to. You can blame Facebook for that and the whole Cambridge Analytica debacle. So you need to make an attractive offer to the prospective reader and make it clear to them that their private data will stay private with you.

What kind of reader freebie should you offer?

For authors, a reader freebie can be done very easily in the form of a short book. Being short, it won’t take too long to produce, and once it starts reeling in email list subscribers, it more or less pays for itself. My first book, a fiction novella, took me a week to write.

Mark O'Neill's mailing list

Are you writing non-fiction? Then write a short 20,000-25,000 word book, which establishes your credentials. If you’re writing fiction, write a 25,000 word novella, preferably the first book in your series. This hooks the reader in and makes them want to buy the second book.

Don’t ever feel you’re doing hard work for free – look upon it as a foundation to hook new customers and ensure future sales of your other work. This is a long-term game with long-term dividends. Not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Therefore, never skimp on quality. This freebie is your portfolio and your resume. People will judge you on it. If you rush it and make a mess, you may as well stop now and give it up. So take your time to produce something good.

Give it a good front cover. A table of contents (if it’s non-fiction), and different file formats. Then it’s just a matter of throwing up a landing page on your author website, advertising the freebie and embedding a signup form.


How do I stop my reader freebie being pirated and shared?

The simple answer is that you can’t stop it from happening. No matter how hard you try, and whatever you decide to do, there’s nothing to stop it from happening. The best you can do is adopt a philosophical attitude to it and think “if it’s being shared, it’s free advertising, and maybe I’ll get a few customers out of it.” Focus all your energies on writing the next book, not on stomping pirated copies. It’s a no-win situation.

Should I put the reader freebie on cloud storage or my website for people to download?

You could, but if the reader freebie has multiple file formats, then what if someone has trouble downloading it and placing it on their eBook reader? To avoid becoming customer technical support, it would be better to use Bookfunnel instead. For $20 a year, they will host your files and provide technical support to anyone who needs it.

Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a bestselling award-winning self-published author of the Department 89 spy thriller series. He has also written two other series - The Scorpion and The Undertaker. His books have been translated into German and partly into Spanish. Mark lives in Germany with his wife and dog.

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