Author Topic: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?  (Read 10563 times)  

Offline phildukephd

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Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« on: January 13, 2014, 05:55:38 AM »
Making written works available free, is IMO harmful to both the Indie author and the industry. Many people believe you get what you pay for. The worker is worthy of his/her hire. Not much is free in this world, why should your work be free?

If you just want to get your work out there, keep in mind that a freebie is a potentially lost sale to a serious reader, and your book if looked at will serve to evaluate you as a writer. Therefore your freebie should be very carefully edited, and be your best work.

I have seen freebies referred to as sales. A free giveaway is not a sale. There is a world of difference.

To my mind, if a person doesn't think enough of their reading to spend a few dollars on it, they need not read my work. On the other hand, I gift ebooks to people I want to read them. And, I will gift an ebook on request.

People, please keep in mind we are in the USA, where the minimum wage ix now $7.25 per hour, and so an ebook price of $2.99 is less than half an hour's work. Do you really feel your work is not even worth so little?

To read my work you must repeat must pay a (very) minimal fee. Or, request the book. Get it generally free- forget it! No way Jose!

Many sales to all Indie authors. :) :) :)
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Offline timskorn

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 06:02:29 AM »
Well, I actually think quite highly of my books.  I'm predicting that, in due time, I will have over 3 million sales.  So, giving away a few thousand copies is worth greasing the wheels to greater success.  :D

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Offline Sam Rivers

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 06:19:04 AM »
Quote
To read my work you must repeat must pay a (very) minimal fee. Or, request the book. Get it generally free- forget it! No way Jose!

I agree with you; I don't give books away and get plenty of sales.  A free book given away is a lost sale. If you write interesting books, people will buy them. 

The books we sell are not that expensive.


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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 06:21:48 AM »
It's called a loss leader. It's a very common method of sales. It works, if done right.
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Offline Carradee

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 06:28:56 AM »
Making written works available free, is IMO harmful to both the Indie author and the industry. Many people believe you get what you pay for. The worker is worthy of his/her hire. Not much is free in this world, why should your work be free?

You're ignoring the longtime marketing concept of a "loss leader". There are entire marketing models that focus on giving for free to get people hooked so they later spend their money. Drugs are a notorious for that type of marketing, but other things have also successfully used the method.

Why should our work be free? Because the author wants it to be.

Posting my stories free on Wattpad supports both my long-term goals and suits what I write. I'm using the freebies as a marketing tactic with an eye on the long-term. Other writers, with different goals and different stories, will have their own best-for-them tactics.

People, please keep in mind we are in the USA, where the minimum wage ix now $7.25 per hour, and so an ebook price of $2.99 is less than half an hour's work. Do you really feel your work is not even worth so little?

Your example is flawed, and not only for assuming everybody here's in the USA. (Which is incorrect.) Your quoted number of $7.25 per hour is gross income. To get the amount of money received per hour, you have to subtract any and all applicable taxes—federal, state, county, city—and any other deductions, like insurance.

So a $2.99 e-book is closer to half an hour's pay…and someone making that little money probably can't afford to spend that.

Not everyone can afford $2.99 or even $0.99. That was my first 10 years of childhood, actually. Mom often didn't have so much as $0.02 to spare, and she was responsible with her income.

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Offline TK aka BB

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 06:35:53 AM »

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 06:36:05 AM »
Calculated timing of loss leaders is what has made me a bestselling author and a ton of money. I don't consider it devaluing my work. I consider it showing people that my work is worth purchasing.
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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 06:37:23 AM »
Because it sells books.

Offline Sam Rivers

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 06:47:16 AM »
We have been arguing this point for the three years I have been on here and I don't think anyone has changed his/her mind.  ::)

Keep doing what you are doing if it works for you.

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 06:53:06 AM »
Gamers out there likely know this, but often time console makers will sell their new machines at cost or sometimes even at a loss. They know they will make it back in future costs of games. While not exactly the same the same argument can be made for free books, especially those with series. You have 5-6 whatever books in a series. A person may see it, but not willing to spend money on it. They get a free taste and suddenly they are hooked....wait I think this applies to drug dealers to.

 :o we are literary crack dealers!!!!! If the cops come get me, I will testify against Hugh for a lesser sentence!!!! (or even for a grammatically correct sentence!)

Offline Fishbowl Helmet

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 06:53:43 AM »
There's a fair amount of evidence to the contrary. Cory Doctorow has ebook versions of all his works available for free on his website, yet his print books continue to sell rather well. Neil Gaiman famously had American Gods available free on the publisher's website for free and during that time print sale quadrupled, as soon as the publisher pulled the free book, sales returned to normal.

Offline swolf

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 06:57:21 AM »
Making written works available free, is IMO harmful to both the Indie author and the industry. Many people believe you get what you pay for. The worker is worthy of his/her hire. Not much is free in this world, why should your work be free?

If you just want to get your work out there, keep in mind that a freebie is a potentially lost sale to a serious reader, and your book if looked at will serve to evaluate you as a writer. Therefore your freebie should be very carefully edited, and be your best work.

I have seen freebies referred to as sales. A free giveaway is not a sale. There is a world of difference.

To my mind, if a person doesn't think enough of their reading to spend a few dollars on it, they need not read my work. On the other hand, I gift ebooks to people I want to read them. And, I will gift an ebook on request.

People, please keep in mind we are in the USA, where the minimum wage ix now $7.25 per hour, and so an ebook price of $2.99 is less than half an hour's work. Do you really feel your work is not even worth so little?

To read my work you must repeat must pay a (very) minimal fee. Or, request the book. Get it generally free- forget it! No way Jose!

Many sales to all Indie authors. :) :) :)

Anyone who thinks this is valid advice, should also read a post of Phil's from a month ago:

The idea of making a living authoring/selling ebooks is fantasy now for almost all Indie authors. If you like to write do so for your pleasure, and simply ignore readers.

So yeah, okay.  Whatever you say, Phil.
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Offline Lady Vine

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 06:57:35 AM »
It worked for me for awhile and then it stopped, so I stopped using it. In my opinion, there are far too many free books out there as is; I don't want to add to the pile. But if it's still working for others why shouldn't they continue using it?

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 06:58:27 AM »
Gamers out there likely know this, but often time console makers will sell their new machines at cost or sometimes even at a loss. They know they will make it back in future costs of games. While not exactly the same the same argument can be made for free books, especially those with series. You have 5-6 whatever books in a series. A person may see it, but not willing to spend money on it. They get a free taste and suddenly they are hooked....wait I think this applies to drug dealers to.

May not be the best analogy. Microsoft makes the Xbox and may discount it heavily, but the content providers are separate from that. I don't see Ubisoft or Bethesda or the other content providers giving games away.

I think the OP's statement makes sense if the given writer only has a couple titles--giving away a major chunk of your product line probably doesn't make sense. But, if you're prolific, it'd make sense to either permafree one book or run regular promotions. And have a few short stories on your website for free.

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 07:08:36 AM »
Just popping in to remind folks to keep it courteous -- this is a topic that excites high passions on both sides. . . . . we're on watch. :o

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Offline Scott Pixello

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 07:09:49 AM »
What do people think Amazon have been doing with the Kindle itself? Exact data is hard to find but most commentators reckon they are sold at near to or below cost price. Ask ANYBODY who works in selling ANYTHING & they will tell you the same story- loss leaders can work & in our case, it can achieve severals things we all crave- visibility, Reviews and possibly even (gasp) sales.

The cow/milk analogy also doesn't work.We are the cow producing the milk. If anything, we're more like drug dealers giving away free samples to get consumers 'hooked' (although morally that metaphor doesn't make us look great).
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Offline books_mb

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2014, 07:10:07 AM »
I try not to do free anymore for the simple reason that it attracts the wrong customers. People who normally wouldn't read a book of this genre will end up downloading it and, given their preferences, most likely won't enjoy it. The result: a bad review that have been avoided. As for the harm permafree books do, I'd say: hate the game, not the player. Amazon opened up this Pandora's box to sell their Kindle, authors just try their best to be read. It's extremely cynical of Amazon to market this decision as "a great opportunity to be seen" to authors (this great opportunity was already there, it was $ 0.99), but what can you do ... After all, if they do manage to sell more Kindles this way, this means more potential readers for authors.



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Offline ClarissaWild

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2014, 07:12:49 AM »
Oh god ... here we go again ....  :'(


Offline swolf

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2014, 07:14:58 AM »
I've posted these numbers before, but they're worth repeating:

Here's the numbers of copies sold for Amulet 2:

Jan 2011 - 1
Feb 2011 - 8
Mar 2011 - 5
Apr 2011 - 5
May 2011 - 3
Jun 2011 - 3
Jul 2011 - 495
Aug 2011 - 276
Sep 2011 - 221
Oct 2011 - 202
Nov 2011 - 207
Dec 2011 - 190
Jan 2012 - 308
Feb 2012 - 251
Mar 2012 - 249
Apr 2012 - 211
May 2012 - 216
And so on...

Can anyone guess when Amulet 1 went free?
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Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2014, 07:15:25 AM »
Does free still work well? I haven't tried it  yet, but absolutely would in a minute if I thought it would be effective. I know it used to work really well, but does it still? I'd love to hear from people who are finding it effective now, in the current market?

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2014, 07:18:54 AM »
May not be the best analogy. Microsoft makes the Xbox and may discount it heavily, but the content providers are separate from that. I don't see Ubisoft or Bethesda or the other content providers giving games away.

I think the OP's statement makes sense if the given writer only has a couple titles--giving away a major chunk of your product line probably doesn't make sense. But, if you're prolific, it'd make sense to either permafree one book or run regular promotions. And have a few short stories on your website for free.


yeah not a perfect analogy, but there are plenty of games that have gone FTP or even with WoW I think it's free until you hit a certain level. You get a taste and then if you want to continue you cough up the cash.

Offline ClarissaWild

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2014, 07:19:04 AM »
Does free still work well? I haven't tried it  yet, but absolutely would in a minute if I thought it would be effective. I know it used to work really well, but does it still? I'd love to hear from people who are finding it effective now, in the current market?

I went from earning 150 dollars to 1500 the first time one of my books went permafree. Now I'm at 5000/6000 a month.

Does that answer your question?

Offline Steven Konkoly

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2014, 07:20:34 AM »
This should be fun enough to cost me at least 500 words of writing today.

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Offline WordSaladTongs

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Re: Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2014, 07:26:39 AM »
I feel so very tired right now.