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Author Topic: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?  (Read 3075 times)

Offline Hopeful Writer

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First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« on: July 02, 2013, 09:20:35 PM »
A lot of people are having a LOT of success setting the first book in their series perma-free. There are at least six writers whom I've discovered this way personally, and I know all six of them are having pretty great success sales-wise.

On the other hand, there are a few writers who sell lots of copies of the first book in a series, and just profit all the way...

And at the same time, there are perma-free books that just don't do so well, ever. So obviously the rest of the books in the series don't do so well either.

Would you set the first book in a series perma-free? Why or why not? What would your recommendations for a new, unpublished writer be? (Regarding that last question - I've self-published before, but I'm trying to enter a new genre with a brand new unknown pen-name.)


Offline W

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 09:28:28 PM »
Romance or erotica, yes.

Other genres, I don't know. It didn't work for my 2 YA series.

Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2013, 09:29:22 PM »
In my opinion perma free might be a good strategy if you already have several books published. I only have one book so far, which is why I've yet to go free. I started at $1.99 and then I raised the price to $2.99.

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Offline MacWillard

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 09:37:03 PM »
I made the first in my YA series perma-free when I had three books out.  Without any bidding on my part it jumped up to the first pages of its free YA categories and have stayed there ever since (with a little help from free promotions).  Before I made the first free, I had zero downloads outside of family/friends.  After the perma-free, I've made well over $1k (that's since about mid-April).  I'd suggest it for YA, and it's worked decently well for my erotica, too.

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 09:45:05 PM »
This is of interest to me too. I'm publishing the third in my series soon and am considering making the first permafree. HopefulWriter, what genre are you writing now?

Question for writers with permafree books in mystery/thriller genre: How many books in the series would you recommend before setting the first free? 3? 5? And... does it work well in this genre?

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Offline NathanWrann

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 09:53:48 PM »
The 1st book in my series has been permafree since October.

It's continued to draw people toward my other 2 books at a regular pace that might not be there otherwise.

I like permafree.

However...

I often wonder:

the great, big bestsellers do not get that way via permafree.

Permafree books do not get tapped with the kindle daily deal.

Every. Single. Day. I contemplate taking my book off of perma-free, but, the fact that I haven't had a BBOS in 8 months keeps it there. I don't know if that's a good thing. Or if that's just A thing. 


Offline Joe Vasicek

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 10:11:48 PM »
Definitely yes.

I write science fiction.  I've got a couple of stand-alones, a series of novels where each is an indirect sequel, and a series of novellas where each is a direct sequel.  When I made the first of my novella series perma-free, it immediately started driving sales to the other books in that series.  Now that the fifth book is out, sales of those novellas is an order of magnitude higher than any of my other books, and it's slowly pulling up the other books too.

Of course, this only really works if you've got a great story that people want to read.  Judging from the reviews and the number of downloads for the first novella in my series, I must have tapped into something.
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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 10:40:40 PM »
My experience, for what it's worth: I write historical fiction. I made the first book in the series free several months after I'd published my first three books. Before I made Book 1 free, my sales were barely into double figures. In the c. three years since, I've sold 300,000 copies of the remaining (non-free) books in the series. Readers quite often comment that they downloaded Book 1 because it was free, and after reading it decided to read my other books.
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Offline JamieCampbell

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 10:45:59 PM »
I wrote a short story prequel (about 8k words) for my YA series and made it permafree.

That went off like crazy and I got nearly a 100% uptake on the full sized novel. I'm about to release book 2 in the series so we'll see if it continues.

I didn't feel like I was missing out on revenue with the short story as it only took a few days to write and it was always planned to be used as a loss leader.

For all my series now I'm going to do the same. The success was better than any advertising I could have done.

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Offline cecilia_writer

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 11:55:01 PM »
Yes, in my experience this is an excellent marketing tool. Although I can't say I've had the absolutely massive successes others have mentioned, I have sold far more novels in my mystery series than I ever expected since having the first one perma-free. I can't remember exactly, but I think I managed to get the first one to perma-free once I had either 2 or 3 others available in the series. For the two (?) years since then, at around Christmas when people get Kindles for the first time, I've seen a large wave of downloads of the perma-free novel, and this seems to fuel sales of the others for quite a few months afterwards. I don't really do any advertising but I do keep in touch with readers via fb and blogs. I've just published no. 6 in the series - with the only slight downside being that I feel quite a bit of pressure to get another one written - but that's fine as I really like the world of these novels and still enjoy writing in it.
ps most of my success is in the UK and not on Amazon US.
 

Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2013, 12:41:17 AM »
My approach...have a short story perma-free and put the first chapter of the first book in the perma-free short.  This way you can spread it around liberally but not lose an entire novel (which can take a significant amount of time to write) to the loss-leader status.  People want to get a "risk free" way to try out your work and short stories are good because there is little investment in time and no investment in money.
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Offline Barbara Morgenroth

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 03:48:33 AM »
My YA Bad Apple has been permafree for about 5 months. It's an emotionally challenging series so not for everyone.  It gets quite a few downloads (ELFS=Everyone Likes Free Stuff) but the ones who go on to read it, get it.  It's been very helpful for defining my audience.  Yesterday it made it into the new Amazon Teen category so it will be interesting to see if that's any kind of improvement in visibility.

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Offline KeithAllen

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2013, 05:36:30 AM »
I'm thinking about doing this with my novella series...but still on the fence. I know Lindsay Buroker (Fantasy Author with an excellent series) has had success with a perma-free first. She actually put up an interesting post about this idea on monday: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/is-using-a-free-ebook-still-a-viable-strategy-for-increasing-overall-sales-on-amazon/

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Offline MacWillard

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2013, 06:49:50 AM »
This is of interest to me too. I'm publishing the third in my series soon and am considering making the first permafree. HopefulWriter, what genre are you writing now?

Question for writers with permafree books in mystery/thriller genre: How many books in the series would you recommend before setting the first free? 3? 5? And... does it work well in this genre?

My YA books are Mystery/Thriller, and do just fine.  Not sure if it would work outside the Teen category, though.

Offline Kwalker

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2013, 06:55:07 AM »
I have a YA Fantasy/Romance series, and I have the first book free.

It took me from selling 50 a month total across the series, to now I'm selling 500 across the series. Each month since going perma free has been progressively better.
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Offline Colin H

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2013, 09:57:04 AM »
Having read the posts on this subject I am tempted to go perma free with with the voids of discovery, the prequel to two other science fantasy novels and effectively the beginning of a trilogy. All books are on the select program. Can someone answer what might seem basic questions.
Do I need to remove the first book from the select program (I assume I do). Then how do I go perma free? There is a minimum price on the amazon pricing structure. Am I right in assuming it still shows on the amazon site but just as free. That means they are promoting a book for which they make no money. Thanks for any help.


Offline zandermarks

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2013, 10:02:46 AM »
I wrote a short story prequel (about 8k words) for my YA series and made it permafree.

That went off like crazy and I got nearly a 100% uptake on the full sized novel. I'm about to release book 2 in the series so we'll see if it continues.

I like this idea. It will take me a very long time to get the second novel done, and still longer to do the third. I'm a slo-o-ow writer.

But a short story prequel? Hmmm...that could definitely work.

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Offline S.L. Baum

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2013, 10:06:43 AM »
It has worked for me. Once the second book in my series was released I started to experiment with a free week (or two) or free month of the first book - here and there, but I definitely decided that it would never go over $0.99 again. Then I released a novella, and after the third book came to be I just bit the bullet and left #1 free at Smashwords... permanently.

I occasionally do a free promo somewhere and pay for/get a mention in various book blogs, to gather new readers' attention... but having only done that a few times in the past year, with little to no other advertising, my numbers are pretty good and I am quite happy with my sales.

Plus, I'll get random reviews, that I never requested, on different blogs, because someone picked it up for free. That is a great bonus!
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Online Estelle Ryan

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2013, 10:14:35 AM »
Mac, thanks for addressing my mystery/thriller question. And for all the others adding their experiences. Are there any other mystery/thriller writers out there who can add to this? I'm especially interested in how many books before going permafree - 3? 5?

Having read the posts on this subject I am tempted to go perma free with with the voids of discovery, the prequel to two other science fantasy novels and effectively the beginning of a trilogy. All books are on the select program. Can someone answer what might seem basic questions.
Do I need to remove the first book from the select program (I assume I do). Then how do I go perma free? There is a minimum price on the amazon pricing structure. Am I right in assuming it still shows on the amazon site but just as free. That means they are promoting a book for which they make no money. Thanks for any help.

I can answer this! Woohoo!! You will need to take your book out of Select, and published on other platforms at $0.00 (Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc). Then you need to get your Amazon book reported (there is a report button on your book product page) that there is a cheaper price available. In true WC style, we have a thread where you can post your Amazon link and free-book link(s), and others will help you report it. It can take Amazon 1 day to months to price match your book to $0.00.

Anything more about permafree, I'm hoping for some more expert advice.  ;D ;D

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Offline blakebooks

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2013, 10:15:22 AM »
Perma-free is the single most powerful current marketing and discovery tool for indie authors. I have two full-length novels, JET and King of Swords, perma- free. Both series sell a lot of books, as in around 70% of my total sales, maybe more. I recently took my Assassin prequel off perma-free and am trying King free for a month to see if the retention rate is higher - King is a full-length, proper novel with a more robust feel to it than the prequel, which I'm now pricing at $2.99 as it's a shorter work.

Additionally, my sales in UK have gone from 50 a day to 150 a day since making my two novels free. It's all about discovery, and barring an unlimited ad budget and Dan Brown saying your book is slathered in awesome sauce, perma-free is as good as it gets, IMO. But it's only worth it if you have at least two more in the series and can get another out in fairly short order. If only two books, I question the merit of it, and I'd just as soon bite the bullet and hold it on perma-free until I had book 3 released. That's my take.


Offline JTCochrane

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2013, 10:21:47 AM »
I would say yes.  I have a perma-free ya fantasy/science fiction.  It has helped push my sales and also my reviews.  My fourth book in the series comes out around the end of this month.  I am excited to see what happens then. :)
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Offline Cherise Kelley

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2013, 11:15:22 AM »
I'm thinking about doing this with my novella series...but still on the fence. I know Lindsay Buroker (Fantasy Author with an excellent series) has had success with a perma-free first. She actually put up an interesting post about this idea on monday: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/is-using-a-free-ebook-still-a-viable-strategy-for-increasing-overall-sales-on-amazon/



Thanks for posting this. Good to know that free ebooks are no longer advertised as also-boughts of paid ebooks. That is huge.


 
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Offline Cheryl Douglas

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2013, 11:17:17 AM »
I went perma-free with the first book in my existing series and plan to do the same with my upcoming series later this summer. This strategy has worked for me.

Offline MacWillard

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2013, 12:35:42 PM »
I would say yes.  I have a perma-free ya fantasy/science fiction.  It has helped push my sales and also my reviews.  My fourth book in the series comes out around the end of this month.  I am excited to see what happens then. :)

Speaking of reviews, fair warning that a lot of perma-free reviews can be unhelpful, to say the least ("I only downloaded this because it's free" type of reviews where they only give one star).

Offline S.L. Baum

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Re: First In A Series: To Perma-Free Or Not?
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2013, 12:40:18 PM »
Speaking of reviews, fair warning that a lot of perma-free reviews can be unhelpful, to say the least ("I only downloaded this because it's free" type of reviews where they only give one star).

Very true my first negative reviews started coming in after I went free. But it's a toss up and I thickened my skin...
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