One of the hottest trends in marketing right now is the “free plus shipping” offer for a book.

If you aren’t familiar with how the offer works, you may be confused about how people make a profit when they are sending you a book for free.

Yes, you charge a little more than it actually costs to handle and ship the book, but that still doesn’t cover the cost of both the book and the shipping. So how do you make it profitable?

The secret is in the upsells. And in lining up a huge number of partners. The upsells create the way for you to pay your partners.

While there isn’t much margin when you offer the book for free plus shipping, you can offer some outstanding upsells that encourage people to buy more right after they order the book. The upsells are where the commission comes from for your partners.

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All for a Buck a Piece!

Sometimes you’ll see some people run the promotion where they give you commission on the front end — even though they don’t have any money yet — based on the expected conversion rate on the upsell offers.

For instance, if you think – on the low end – that you may convert 10% of the book buyers with the first upsell, you expect to generate a certain amount of profit and can pay your partners a certain commission for every free book you give away to someone on their list.

However, because most of the time they don’t know their numbers yet – and can’t even guess because it’s a brand new process, a brand new funnel – they typically don’t pay commission on the front end, that is, on the book. Instead, they pay commission on the upsells.

The goal is to have a stellar offer that converts really well, and a lot of partners who are excited to tell their tribe about your book.

And typically you even offer the book as a pre-sell, before it’s even on Amazon yet. This helps you boost your numbers, which you want to do in order to hit the best seller lists.

And sometimes the author won’t even charge for shipping and handling, but will just send you the book entirely for free. That’s when you’ll see amazing bonuses — over-the-top offers — that are just irresistible. This helps your partners dump tons of people into the funnel, and gets them exposed to the upsell sequence.

Writing a book and offering it for free is a really fast way to grow your list and develop a good relationship with new partners. And a great way to make some profit on the upsells now, and on the eventual sales to your new list later.