Author Topic: Please, when is best to make first of series free, if at all? Thanks.  (Read 787 times)  

Offline Fleurina

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Hello, and I hope you're having a good weekend.

I know there is no 'one size fits all' answer to my following question but would be grateful for the benefit of your experience.
Within the next few weeks, I plan to launch the second book in my Izzie Firecracker trilogy.  It, along with first, will be 'wide' via D2D.
I have just reduced book one to 99p  in preparation for the launch. When do you recommend I make book one free, if at all? After or before the launch of book two, or is it better to wait until book three is also launched (about August)

Cheers!
Jan x

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Offline ADDavies

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How much are the sequels going to be? If it's only a trilogy I'd wait until they're all out. But speaking from only my own experience, I found here wasn't much to be made until I had 3 sequels, so first free brought a trickle of readers, but promoting it cost a lot. If you can make it a longer series, and wait until you have three sequels, that's what I'd do. If i was starting again, I'd make it 5 books, then make the first free.

Actually, if it absolutely has to be a trilogy, I wouldn't make the first free. I'd suggest keeping the first at $3.99/4.99 and use the first as a lead magnet in recruiting people to your mailing list. Bookfunnel is doing some good stuff on that front. Instafreebie, I heard, is doing away with compulsory sign up options, though. If you're a facebook whizz, or have time to learn, that's a good route too.

Then, when you release the other two, you have a built in audience. And a built in audience when you launch your next trilogy or series.

Of course, it pays to experiment, so if others advise differently, there's nothing stopping you going free whenever and reverting back later.

Best of luck.
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Offline Fleurina

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Thanks for your comments, AD Davies.
I haven't decided on the price of the sequels. The second is about finished at circa 56K words, shorter than the 67K of first, so I guess about 2.99  tops.
No, it doesn't need to be a trilogy, there is plenty of fodder to carry on, so maybe I will. I had wondered about making a longer series and what you say makes sense. At the moment I am marketing it as a trilogy on my website and social media, which doesn't stop me changing my mind later.
Cheers, and I appreciate your input.
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Offline David VanDyke

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Wait until book 3 is out and book 4 is in pre-order, or longer if you can stand to hold off. Every book in the series extends the read-though possibilities and effectiveness of your promos, lowering their effective cost and raising ROI. Stick with 99c promos as long as you can.

Most people go permafree too soon IMO. I had 6 books out before I did, and am glad I did.


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Offline Simon Haynes

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I went perma-free on the first with 3 more available in the series. I've kept it free ever since. With 8 in the series the first is far more valuable to me as a freebie than a 99c title. Much easier to 'sell' a free book via ads and promos, and plenty of other titles in the series to recoup on.

With the middle-grade series I stuck with 2.99 for each of the three titles. Free and 99c just didn't work, perhaps because many parents will pay for perceived quality when it comes to their kids. I sell more paperbacks than ebooks for the Junior series, in any case.

I'm having an internal debate about the new series though. I'm tempted to leave the first and second at 4.99 for now, at least until the third is a pre-order (August?) Then I might drop the first to free for a while, and the second to 99c, before bumping them back to 2.99 and 4.99 respectively.


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Offline Rod Little

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I've found that most readers who download freebies are just hoarding them. 90% don't even read them, so there's no chance of a sale on further books. Also, many of those readers will never pay for content. (There are exceptions, of course). I see no value in ever offering free books. Instead, it's better to get more pay-oriented readers (those who pay for content). I occasionally have a .99 or  1.99 countdown sale, and a higher percentage of those readers will buy my subsequent books in the series (60%). 
However, the best readers are those who pay full price. 95% of those readers tend to buy my 2nd and 3rd books in the series. They actually read, review and buy = better readers/customers.
Collecting freebie-readers might be a waste of time.

That's just my 2 cents (and I want a penny back)  ;D  But all the knowledge I have could fill a thimble, so...  ::)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 05:36:06 AM by Rod Little »

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Offline jackconnerbooks

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How do you get freebies to work? Do you promote them? I've experimented with permafree numerous times but have never been able to get the ranking high enough to be of benefit in selling the sequels.

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Offline Simon Haynes

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In the past I didn't bother promoting them at all, but over the past two months I released a new title in the series so I figured I ought to. Mostly offered the freebie through various promo sites, some bigger (like ENT) and some smaller.

I agree a huge percentage of free books are hoarded, but I don't expect people to read the freebie and then buy all my books. I just want them to land on my freebie's product page on Amazon, where they'll see the blurb and maybe spot the covers and ratings for the rest of the series. If they're into the same kind of stuff (hitchhiker's guide, red dwarf, etc), there's not a huge amount of competition out there.

That's not to say I'm rusted on to my current strategy. I'd love to change the first to 2.99 and make money off it, and I've been making a list of all the places I'd have to update, from booksellers to promos, FB ads, AMS ads and so on. But first I'm waiting to take the series wide, which falls mid-May. (My 90 day Select experiment is 2/3 done.)



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Offline David VanDyke

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I've found that most readers who download freebies are just hording them. 90% don't even read them, so there's no chance of a sale on further books. Also, many of those readers will never pay for content.

If 90% never read them, 10% do. Remember, there's a loss to 99c books as well. Probably 50% never read their 99c book. Permafree gets about 40x as many books out there than 99c does IME.

If you do the math using those numbers, you see permafree is still roughly 8x as effective as 99c. IME it's better than that, really, as permafree has a much longer tail.

There's endless theory and reasoning--and then there's results. Always best to go with the results.


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Online L_Loryn

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I see no value in ever offering free books. Instead, it's better to get more valuable readers (those who pay for content). I occasionally have a .99 or  1.99 countdown sale, and a higher percentage of those readers will buy my subsequent books in the series (60%). 
However, the best readers are those who pay full price. 95% of those readers tend to buy my 2nd and 3rd books in the series. They actually read, review and buy = better readers.
Collecting freebie-readers is a waste of time.


People who only want "free" stuff aren't LESS valuable than people who will pay. You can have a ride-or-die follower on a budget and you know what you can do with them?

- Email list

- Beta reader, ARC reviewer

- Make a book perm-free for a week or so? Send all those free readers there and you don't have to pay for advertising to boost results.



Just because they won't buy something doesn't mean they're not valuable. And if you treat them like they're valuable, you'll get mileage out of them versus treating them like they're garbage. And also, yeah you can eventually convert some because they'll perceive you as nice and want to help support you.


Also, same thing David said about the exposure on a free book is more than 99c. My (limited) experience is similar to his, too. I can move a permafree book.

I built a decent little email list with one permafree book, then when I released another (one that amazon won't let me promote for whatever reason), I let the crew know and managed to get the book in the top 100s of its category. And it's been hanging out there for awhile now. I would actually say I went permafree too soon (I wish I had more in the series, but it was an experiment so the knowledge I gained is just as good as the money I earned).

Offline Luke Everhart

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When do you recommend I make book one free, if at all? After or before the launch of book two, or is it better to wait until book three is also launched (about August)

Cheers!
Jan x

I don't know when to make it free, but it's definitely effective as a lead-in for a series if some uber successful author's examples are any indication. Kristen Painter's Jayne Frost series has a book 1 permafree (the rest at $4.99) and Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune series has a book 1 permafree (rest at $5.99). I know it works because both hooked me on their series.  ;D  Mark Dawson's John Milton series is in KU so he doesn't do a permafree in the traditional sense; however, he will hook you up with freebies when you sign up to his email list. I'm a KU subscriber so became a fan without the freebie option but it obviously works too.

PS: I'm citing their examples because I have none of my own; I'm a noob/prawn. And because my strategy in becoming an indie author is to learn by the examples of those who have gone before me and kicked a... er, succeeded.


« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 11:51:43 AM by Luke Everhart »
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Offline Fleurina

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Thanks so very much to you all for replying to my question. Much appreciated.  :)
A great help.


 
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Offline C. Gockel

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The longer you can afford to hold out, the better. Going free after book 3 in I Bring the Fire was released allowed me to cut my consulting hours back drastically, which allowed me to write more, which enabled me to finish my series before my father died. That meant a more to me than money.

ETA: my two series that have permafrees have overarching story arcs. If you write neat and tidy standalones it might not work as well.


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Offline JDMatheny

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Mark Dawson's John Milton series is in KU so he doesn't do a permafree in the traditional sense; however, he will hook you up with freebies when you sign up to his email list.


So you can offer a full KU book as a reward for newsletter enrollment?  I would have assumed that was against the TOS but I suppose it's similar to offering ARCs.


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Offline C. Gockel

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So you can offer a full KU book as a reward for newsletter enrollment?  I would have assumed that was against the TOS but I suppose it's similar to offering ARCs.

I'm not sure about this. Mark Dawson has a decent backlist. He may be offering freebies that aren't in Kindle Unlimited.


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Offline Fleurina

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The longer you can afford to hold out, the better. Going free after book 3 in I Bring the Fire was released allowed me to cut my consulting hours back drastically, which allowed me to write more, which enabled me to finish my series before my father died. That meant a more to me than money.

ETA: my two series that have permafrees have overarching story arcs. If you write neat and tidy standalones it might not work as well.

Thanks again for the replies, lovely Kboarders.

C Gokel, I'll probably go with this option, although my series is about 95% stand-alone books, with a teeny overlap. Two characters appear in every book, Izzie Firecracker, and her cleaner and friend, Doris Designer- Overall. At the moment I have book one at a measly 99p (about $1.39). Would your advice be to up the price until book three is launched, to maybe 1.99, or an exorbitant 2.99?  ;)
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Offline Elizabeth Barone

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People who only want "free" stuff aren't LESS valuable than people who will pay. You can have a ride-or-die follower on a budget and you know what you can do with them?

- Email list

- Beta reader, ARC reviewer

- Make a book perm-free for a week or so? Send all those free readers there and you don't have to pay for advertising to boost results.

Just because they won't buy something doesn't mean they're not valuable. And if you treat them like they're valuable, you'll get mileage out of them versus treating them like they're garbage. And also, yeah you can eventually convert some because they'll perceive you as nice and want to help support you.

Also, same thing David said about the exposure on a free book is more than 99c. My (limited) experience is similar to his, too. I can move a permafree book.

I built a decent little email list with one permafree book, then when I released another (one that amazon won't let me promote for whatever reason), I let the crew know and managed to get the book in the top 100s of its category. And it's been hanging out there for awhile now. I would actually say I went permafree too soon (I wish I had more in the series, but it was an experiment so the knowledge I gained is just as good as the money I earned).

I have a really good author friend whose audience has a large percentage of people on fixed incomes, most of which are disabled. These are her biggest fans, even though they don't often have the means to purchase her books. Instead they beta read and ARC review. They follow her to every digital event she does -- an automatic audience even in the slowest of takeovers. They're one of her biggest assets.

Every type of customer has a purpose.

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Offline C. Gockel

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C Gokel, I'll probably go with this option, although my series is about 95% stand-alone books, with a teeny overlap. Two characters appear in every book, Izzie Firecracker, and her cleaner and friend, Doris Designer- Overall. At the moment I have book one at a measly 99p (about $1.39). Would your advice be to up the price until book three is launched, to maybe �1.99, or an exorbitant $2.99?

Are books 1 & 2 published? What is the read-thru? If it is less than 50% at 99-cents I might raise to $2.99. You'll probably earn more overall.


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Offline Fleurina

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Thanks again.  :)
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Online L_Loryn

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I have a really good author friend whose audience has a large percentage of people on fixed incomes, most of which are disabled. These are her biggest fans, even though they don't often have the means to purchase her books. Instead they beta read and ARC review. They follow her to every digital event she does -- an automatic audience even in the slowest of takeovers. They're one of her biggest assets.

Every type of customer has a purpose.

Yep. Sometimes when I get frustrated with my "free" audience, I stroll over to a paid ARC review site and crunch the numbers on how much it would cost to pay the site versus my ARC readers. Always makes me feel better when I realize the money I'm saving (and the guaranteed mostly positive reviews I'm going to get as well).