I talked myself into it, I talked myself out of it. Then I talked myself into it again.

There’s a controversy among indies over whether promoting your book by giving it away for free is a good thing. The most persuasive argument I’ve heard mostly applies to authors who have more than one book–hook them with a freebie and upsell them on the sequel. That’s not an option for me, seeing as how I only have one book. So, no promotion. And besides, all my friends and family have already shelled out and dropping the price to $0.00 isn’t fair to them.

But Colleen Hoover’s example changed my mind. Rules 3 (Make your work available) and 4 (Generate buzz) are both served with a promotion, providing we also follow Rule 1 (Write good stuff).

So…I just did my first free KDP Select promo. One day, no advance notice. This was intended as much as an experiment as it was an actual attempt to get my book in some hands that would read it and review it. My Facebook ad campaign had expired so the only possible way for someone to find out about my free book was through Amazon.

Results: 445 downloads in a 24-hour period. One add on Goodreads by someone who already has 1370 books in her general library.

I’m still figuring out what to make of that. Clearly, there are a lot of people subscribing to the Kindle Deal of the Day and spend a whale of a lot of time downloading free books that likely will never get read. But I’ll be watching my key performance indicators for movement before I pass final judgement. One day later I’ve registered one more paid sale. Whether it’s related to the promotion or not, no man can say.

The next promo I do will have a bunch of advance notice. I predict that the number of downloads will be similar, perhaps maginally higher, on the theory that folks looking for freebies will find them whether they see the notice on a blog or not. But if there are even a few who see an announcement and make a conscious decision to download a free book with the intent of reading it, the promotion will be worthwhile. And I don’t think it’ll be hurting my own sales since the Kindlers with 1370 free books in their library probably aren’t in the mainstream of paying customers.

In any case, seeing that 445 download tally has a curiously satisfying effect, even if I didn’t made a dime on any of them.