Episode 14 – 5 Ways To Use Free To Optimize Your Author Platform

This episode is a solo one where Mark shares the 5 Ways mentioned in the title, and then goes on to reflect how the chat with T S Paul in the previous episode, combined with the concept of FREE helped inspire a new project that he is launching in April.

The tongue twister this week is introduced by a terrible spoof that Mark does of the Dire Straits song “Twisting by the Pool” modified to “Twisting by the Fool.”

The Terrible Tongue Twister (the segment is known as “Twisting by the Fool”) is sponsored by Findaway Voices. Findaway Voices provides all the tools that an independent author or small publisher needs in order to get into the digital audiobook market.

Check them out at



1) To Get People Hooked on a Series

Mark quotes from studies done at Kobo on how the first book in a series set to free can result in new readers and boosted sales for an author.

2) To Get People to Sign up to Your Author Newsletter

Authors such as Mark Dawson and Nick Stephenson have not only perfected this craft, but they have also shared great free information on how to do this and also offer courses that include in-depth training.

The “Click Here” in the image above doesn’t work. You need to GO TO NICK’S WEBSITE to check it out.

3) To Get Readers / Reviews

Free giveaways are something used in order to get reviews of a person’s book. If you can get a good volume of readers to pick up an ebook, there are ways you can entice them to review it. Draft2Digital has a good article about How To Ask For Reader Reviews (which includes details about inserting calls to action inside the book. There’s another great article at Written Word Media on How To Get Book Reviews on Amazon which includes multiple ideas, including free. Written Word Media CEO Ricci Wolman also shared some insights on that topic in Episode 8.

4) To Get Feedback / Engage with Readers

Sometimes selling isn’t the main goal. Sometimes a writer is looking to get feedback or merely have someone read their work. Platforms like Blogger or WordPress, where authors can post their work and let people read it for free fit here. Also, places like Wattpad Mark share his own experience of using Wattpad to share the first draft of a novel, and how that led to a very positive experience.

5) Limited Time offers of FREE to drive returning traffic

Mark talks about how author Kristine Kathryn Rusch offers a weekly Free Fiction Mondays, as well as an interesting story of how she, unknowingly, made life easier for a reader fan. He talks about M L Buchman and his monthly free “Ides of Matt” offering. And then he mentions how T S Paul (from Episode 13) uses a 24 hour monthly free short story offering.

Screen shot from March 2018 “Ides of Matt” from M L Buchman’s website

Mark then shares how the concept of free, inspired by the three authors mentioned immediately above, combined with the element of making something a habit with regularly returning visitors and some of his own previous experiments and successes, led to the creation of new project he is launching in April.

Mark shares how his involvement in a weekly blogging meme called Half-Nekkid Thursdays led to the creation of an HNT Darth Tater SPUD WARS storyline that he rolled out over a few months and which drew a strong following and actively engaged audience.

The first “Darth Tater Unmasked” shot that inspired the SPUD WARS serialized spoof story. (“Use the forks, Mark. Use the forks!”)

He then shares how he adapted two short stories into a story that was rolled out in real time over 9 months via a blog from the main character’s point of view. That also attracted readers from around the world as well as highly engaged reader interaction. Entitled, I, DEATH, the blog was then re-adapted into a novel that was published in 2014.

An example of the interactivity of comments from real readers on the I, DEATH blog written by the novel’s main character, Peter O’Mallick

That all led to Mark’s desire to want to do something like that again, and shares how he had been listening to Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula Podcast where James interviewed Cecelia Mecca about engaging with your readers using Facebook Live.

This is something Mark had been playing with for the past year or so and enjoyed the process as well as the engagement and feedback from it.

So he adapted the three elements, all related to previous success:

1) Offering reading for free
2) Engaging with readers
3) Facebook Live videos

Into FREE FRIDAY FRIGHTS #freefridayfrights which he’ll be starting next Friday – Friday April 6, 2018 and rolling out weekly via a free piece of writing (alternating between fiction and non-fiction) that will be available for 24 hours. But also, on that Friday, since different readers consume differently, he’ll do a Facebook Live video of either a reading of the fiction then talking about it and answering questions, OR talking about the non-fiction article answering questions.

Below is a sample and test video of an abbreviated version of what the FREE FRIDAY FRIGHTS will be like.


In the wrap-up to the episode, Mark thanks listeners and reminds them of three ways to support the show:

1) Via Patreon (with bonus content available)

2) By Leaving a review of the show on the podcatcher of your choice

3) By sharing the podcast with a friend who would benefit from it


Links of Interest:


The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

RSS options for this podcast: Mark Leslie at Libsyn or Feedburner

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