Monday 27 February 2017

Five Cross-Promotion Tools for Authors

By Iola Goulton

Over the last two weeks I’ve looked at Five Ways to Build Your Email List, and Five Tools for Managing Online Giveaways. This week I’m looking at cross-promotions, and introducing three popular ways to participate in multi-author giveaways:

  • BookHub
  • InstaFreebie
  • Ryan Zee Author Marketing


BookHub is run by Ken and Paula Sheridan (writing as Paula Wynne).

The purpose of a BookHub promotion is to add new subscribers to your newsletter email list.

Authors sign up and pay from GBP 25 to join a genre-specific group promotion. Each author also donates one ebook to be used as a prize, and are required to share the promotion with their email lists, and across social media. BookHub provides each author with a unique tracking link to confirm each author has emailed their list.

BookHub promotes the contest, chooses and notifies the winner/s, then collates all the email addresses acquired during the promotion and passes them onto the eligible participating authors. Only participating authors who shared the promotion with their email list are eligible to receive the list.

Eligible participating authors receive the email addresses of all entrants. 

This could be an issue: it’s possible some entrants will only be interested in a few of the books, so they are likely to unsubscribe from other newsletters.

However, authors who have participated in BookHub promotions don’t report this as being an issue. One way authors can work out who is truly interested in their list is to offer entrants a gift (e.g. sample chapters or a novella), then only add those entrants who download the gift.

Click here to find out more.

Reader Magnet

BookHub also offers a reader magnet (aka lead magnet or opt-in bribe) promotion for GBP 15. This has the same conditions regarding promotion as the cross promotions discussed above, but it’s not clear whether the promotions are genre specific.

In both cases, your book must be listed on BookHub.

Newsletter Swap

Note that giveaways aren’t the only kind of cross-promotion. In her book Book Promotion for Authors, Paula Wynne also talks about newsletter swaps. A newsletters swap isn’t authors exchanging email lists—that violates anti-spam laws.

Instead, a newsletter swap is when two authors agree to each promote the other’s book in a newsletter. 

This is usually a book that’s on sale rather than a free book, so this is about driving sales, not newsletter sign-ups. Authors usually want to swap with other authors in the same genre, with a similar-sized email list. I would also suggest that a newsletter swap is effectively you endorsing the other author, so you need to be sure his/her writing is of a standard and content you’d be comfortable endorsing.


Instafreebie is a platform which allows authors to give away copies of their books. 

I’ve recently participated in a group promotion on Instafreebie that added 350+ subscribers to my list. Other group members added over 1,000 (they had more generic books than my “hyper-niche” title).

With the free plan, you can give away free copies of your book to reviewers, fans, or anyone who asks. You can limit the number of copies you give away, or choose not to. Instafreebie will email each reader a personalised ePub, mobi or pdf file, and you can also choose to have this DRM protected.

With a paid plan, you can also require that people claiming your free book are also added to your email list. 

Paid plans start at USD 20 per month, although there is a 30-day free trial, and they do have an referral plan that offers credit for paid plans. Click here to check out Instafreebie (yes, that is my referral link.)

InstaFreebie suggest their platform can be used to provide prizes to giveaway winners, send review copies to bloggers or your street team, send advance copies librarians and other influencers, or run special promotions (e.g. a pre-release giveaway, or a downloadable sample).

Note that InstaFreebie don’t provide readers with any support in loading books onto their ereaders. If you’re part of a large group promotion, you might find yourself spending a lot of time giving your readers instructions on how to sideload or email the book file to their device.

Instafreebie also don’t organise cross-promotions—they are merely the tool. I found the cross promotion I participated in via a closed Facebook group.

Ryan Zee Author Marketing

Ryan Zee utilises an online tool to run multi-author giveaways (the tool looks a lot like KingSumo, which I discussed last week). He runs two or three genre-specific giveaways each week at in which readers sign up to author newsletters in exchange for a chance to win.

There are two winners to each giveaway: first prize is a Kindle Fire with all the ebooks in the promotion. Second place is all the ebooks. Authors pay from USD 60 to participate, provide two ebooks as prizes, and advertise the giveaway to their current newsletter list, and on social media.

Ryan provides the graphics and links, social media and newsletter templates, and a spreadsheet of newsletter signups at the conclusion of the contest. I suspect this promotion will net fewer email addresses than a BookHub promotion, but the advantage is that all the entrants have elected to subscribe specifically to your newsletter. It’s probably still worth offering some form of free download, and deleting those emails which aren’t interested.

If you’d like to see a contest in action ...

There is a Ryan Zee Contemporary Inspirational Romance giveaway starting on 27 February (US time, so that means tomorrow). Ryan is currently taking signups for a Historical Inspirational Romance giveaway, running from 10 to 17 April. You can sign up here, and you can find out more about Ryan Zee promotions here.

Those are the major cross promotion tools I’m aware of. Are there any others you've heard of?

Have you taken part in any multi-author cross-promotions to build your email list? What was your experience? Would you recommend it to others?

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at to download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)


  1. Good stuff, Iola. You've obviously learnt the power of "affiliate sales". Having spent a day with Joanna Penn on Saturday, Andrea and I now understand how significant these can be in generating a form of passive income. You should do a blog post(s) with a step by step guide on how to do it and then a preso at the Conference in October.

    PS. well done in declaring it too.

    1. First I have to actually earn some money off affiliate sales ... But yes, where I've bought a product and am happy to recommend it, I do make a point of using their affiliate programme if they have one.

  2. Oh, Iola I'm afraid this particular side of marketing is beyond me. I can see the value of doing this in order to sell books, but how time consuming. The days when publishers did this are long gone and so it's all on the authors to garner their own readers.

    1. Rita, I look at this kind of marketing as an investment. Sure, it took me several hours to do my part in setting up and promoting the Instafreebie giveaway, but now my monthly emails are going to an extra 350+ people for no additional effort. And I've had several lovely emails thanking me for the book.

      P.S. My book is no longer available from Instafreevie, but it is available from my website, In exchange for signing up for my email list, of course.

  3. Wow, my head is spinning. I'm looking forward to what you have to say during March marketing challenge. Hoping to get my head around how to even start.

    1. That's exactly what the Challenge will focus on ... how to start. Because none of these ideals will work if you don't have the basics of an author platform in place: website, email list, and at least a couple of social media accounts.

    2. *ideas not ideals. The perils of typing on a touch screen!


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