Use Proven Success Principles

By: Ken Brown
Published: 4/25/2024

Study successful men and women and do what they do, and you will be successful, too.

I was listening to my old cassette tape of Brian Tracy as he talks about the Psychology of Success. In this tape, he was talking about taking the actions of successful people and imitating their success habits. After listening to the tape several times (BTW, I listen on my phone, not on the old cassettes, though I still have them) I realized that I'm not taking his advice. I'm not taking the steps that successful authors take to market their books.

Brian says, "Use proven success methods. Don't try to re-invent the wheel."

Guess what, I'm just floundering in still water, because I don't have a large marketing budget and I'm not too keen on giving the mega-rich owners of Facebook and Amazon my small amount of marketing cash. They have enough money, they don't need mine.

So, what are successful writers doing to market their novels? Free First in Series.

There is a marketing strategy that has worked for independent authors for several years. It's known as FFIS, or Free first in series. What it means is that you write a series and, at some point, you set the first book free. I've heard of the strategy and in a few minutes, I'll tell you what I did wrong. Even though it has been around for a while, the industry still considers it a viable marketing strategy.

Free first in series for authors marketing efforts. FFIS or FISF

What is FFIS or Free First in Series?

  • Write a series of books, usually all in one genre and following the same characters.
  • When you have at least four novels written or have completed the series, then you set the first book free at all the retailers.
  • The readers will snatch up your free novel - Meaning the strategy doesn't work if only one or two people pick up your free book
  • Readers who have read your free novel and who buy books. If they like your first book, then they will pay money to read books 2 through the end of the series.

Why does this strategy work?

Book lovers want to know if they'll like an author's style of writing. When you give the first book away for free, it gives readers a chance to see your writing style. Will they like your characters? Is it an interesting world? Do you use proper grammar?

As an Author, When Should I Employ this Strategy?

Be careful. Don't employ this strategy after writing only one book. It won't work. Even two books are too few to make it a viable marketing plan. You should aim to have at least four published books, with five being the preferred number.

You might get a thousand people to download your free book. WooHoo! That's exciting, but not all of those people will purchase book two in the series. In fact, an astonishing small number of readers will pull out their wallets for books two through five.

You need to have at least three other books in the marketplace for the readers who will pay for the rest of your series. At one time, that number was significantly higher. Now, there are more freebie seekers in the marketplace and the percentage who will actually pull out cash for your book might be as low as two percent of the thousand that grabbed the free book.

Does the Strategy still Work?

Well, I'm going to find out. I don't really have a large marketing budget and I'm concerned about giving my hard work away for free. I've read a number of posts and books in the last two weeks for me to believe it is still a viable strategy. So, on April 22, 2024, I set the first book in my Mountain King Series to free. I plan to run a FreeBooksy ad for it once a quarter and see what happens. I'm willing to spend $45 per quarter to test this strategy. One day after setting it to free on the twenty-fourth of April, I had already given away two free books. I have a Fussy Librarian ad set to run on May 24th. We'll see if that gets measurable results.

I had read about this strategy since entering the indie market arena back in 2018. Back then, I was still green behind the ears and didn't really understand the whole indie marketing process. So, I set this book for free back then and had four thousand downloads, but there was a flaw in my method, because I didn't have any other books for the people who purchased my free book, to get a second or third book so I could make some money.

I learned about marketing and book-selling at that point, but I didn't make any money. One good thing that came out of this marketing attempt was I ended up getting nine or ten reviews on the book. So, a little positive value from the learning opportunity.

It is time for me to act. I am setting my first book to permafree. So you can get Eclipse of the Triple Moons, for free at the time of this article on my website. You can find it free on all the major booksellers, Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play Books, Barne's and Noble and Smashwords.
But you can't just set the price to free and expect people to rush out and get it. You can stand in the middle of a cornfield during a one-hundred plus temperature day and give away free ice-cream, But if no one knows you're out there, then you'll just stand out their watching your ice-cream melt.

Use Proven Success Principles for authors and you will be successful, too.


  • Write more books - This is ALWAYS the best marketing strategy when you're first starting out.
  • Publish at least four books and five books are better, before trying this strategy.
  • Set your book to free in all places where you retail your book. Amazon won't take kindly to you if you have it at a higher price somewhere else.
  • Be patient. If you aren't spending money on ads, then it'll take a while to drive traffic to the book organically.

Cheers. Remember to Write Everyday. Ken.

Image is from Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Other Articles that May Interest You

Where do Writers get Inspiration Ramping Up Tension You have to Start Somewhere Can a New Author Make Six Figures Adding Novel Suspense