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For those of you who are writing series, I'm curious how many of you have worked to make the first book permafree and whether you feel doing so has had a major impact on the success or failure of your series to date.  Anyone care to share?
 

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Making the first in a series free is, I would wager, almost universal at this point. The market's overwhelming use of the strategy speaks for itself.
 

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I haven't.  I do use Select free promo days for it and I do have a short that is perma free, but no, my first of my series is not perma free.
 

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Its a numbers game in my opinion.  First you have to define what is your goal.  One a day?  One a week?  Ten a day?  How many copies of book one do you need to sell to be satisfied?  If your're satisfied, then leave it alone.

After that, you're going to need some hard numbers.  How many people who are paying for book one go on to the rest of the series.  Then how many people who pick up book one for free, move on to the rest of the series?  If your goal is money, then it will be simple to calculate what is better for you.  Sell 10, pick up 5 buy through?  Give away 100 pick up 10 buy through?  Give away 1000 and pick up 10 buy through?  You won't ever know until you can get your hands on your own data.  You might be able to get a general idea from some of threads and blogs where people post their promotion results.  But remember, that is their book, their blurb, cover, promotion and results, not yours.

Also there is the luck factor.  Selling ten might make you more money, but 100 given away puts your book in front of more people.  Even if they don't get around to reading it, they still clicked on it and downloaded it.  They might just hear about it later and remember that they have it.
 

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CaseyHollingshead said:
Making the first in a series free is, I would wager, almost universal at this point. The market's overwhelming use of the strategy speaks for itself.
It is most definitely not universal.
 

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I have the first book in my MacKenzie series perma free, and it's had a huge impact on my sales. The freebie has been downloaded more than 600,000 times, and the rest of the series has sold over 300,000 copies, and it continues to grow with every release. So definitely worth it in my opinion. I don't do Select with any of my books.
 

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Jnassise said:
I wouldn't say that's true at all. If it was, I wouldn't have bothered to ask.
Let's get a bit more specific, then. For a lot of top sellers, no, this isn't true. Name recognition is the selling point -- nevermind that top sellers usually have a lot of physical product to move. There is also the matter of genre -- I think fantasy/sci-fi are most suited for the strategy. But if you are a mid-lister of any sort you have a lot of freedom to test out your pricing. SBJones asked the right questions. Are you content with how your books are selling right now? Do you believe there is a strong or growing readership there? If not, consider a loss leader. I glanced at the "free" lists of a number of genres and found columns and columns of "Book One". If you're an unknown author, what better way to attract potential buyers? Hugh Howey frequents this forum and WOOL is perma-free as far as I can tell, maybe he'll say a word about his experiences. Digital products are hard to beat when it comes to producing a loss leader; there's just nothing genuinely "lost", but there is something to be gained. Perhaps "almost universal" was a stretch, but it is one of the most frequently cited "strategies" I've personally seen, both in discussion and practice.
 

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Back in 2010 I released Amulet and Amulet 2.  They both sold a few copies a month on Amazon.

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

In July of 2011, Amulet 1 went free on Amazon due to price matching.  Amulet 2 went from averaging around five copies a month, to over 200 a month.
 

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I am considering doing this when the fifth, and final, book of my series comes out. However, I don't go through Smashwords, I download directly each place.  I know I can make a book free on kobo and also think I can on ARe/Omni, but what about B&N? Can someone tell me, and if not, how cheap can I make it on B&N?

Will Amazon pricematch kobo and ARe/Omni?

I am also on I-tunes through AR3/Omni. For those of you on I-tunes, can you go free on there?

Sorry to "sabatoge" the thread, but this information can add to the information for others who are considering free in a series.  Thanks!
 

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Caddy said:
I know I can make a book free on kobo and also think I can on ARe/Omni, but what about B&N? Can someone tell me, and if not, how cheap can I make it on B&N?
Just checked, and the lowest price you can set through Pubit is $0.99. Free is not available.
 

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Just checked, and the lowest price you can set through Pubit is $0.99. Free is not available
.

Good to know. Well, that'll teach those NOOK owners who not buying my book more often...:(

Does Amazon usually match kobo free? If so, can it stay free forever that way as long as it stays free on kobo and ARe or does Amazon not like that?
 

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The first book in my series, which now includes six books, is perma free and it has definitely helped all the others. I had it priced at 99-cents to be a loss leader, then when it went free, all the books did much, much better.
 

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I have a mystery series of 5 books with the first one perma-free. I managed to get this set up when I had 2 others in the series available, and it made a huge difference - I got 1,000s of downloads on amazon uk over Christmas and New Year last year and that had an excellent knock-on effect on sales of the others. My two stand-alones have never done as well even with free days on select for one of them.
I think my caveat would be that getting something made perma-free on Amazon is in Amazon's gift and can easily be taken away!
 

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Caddy said:
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Good to know. Well, that'll teach those NOOK owners who not buying my book more often...:(

Does Amazon usually match kobo free? If so, can it stay free forever that way as long as it stays free on kobo and ARe or does Amazon not like that?
I don't know about ARe, but my book Bad Vibrations is free on Kobo and iTunes, but not B&N, and Amazon still price-matched it.
 

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I don't know about ARe, but my book Bad Vibrations is free on Kobo and iTunes, but not B&N, and Amazon still price-matched it.
Thank you. That answers my question about if you can be free on I-tunes and my question about Amazon matching.
 

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I considered using a short story tied to my vampire series as a perma-free introduction rather than a whole novel. Most series will capture the biggest sales with the first book and then a sliding scale into the remainder. There are exceptions where a later book outsells the first but that's why they are called exceptions. My top selling vampire book is the first in the series followed by my "twin-pack" of books one and two - so risky for me to use perma-free on that first book.
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I ended up using the short to create a bunch of product boxed sets for use during the holiday free-a-thon since I could guarantee listing on Amazon and only guess at when a price match might happen (I've heard some take months). Since I used that one in the combo-packs I need to write another story over the next week. My target for listing is Kobo as I've heard quicker price matching and the system is easier to manage than the others.
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Putting the first book free in a series is what turned everything around sales wise for me. I think I'd sold maybe three thousand books total (and that's a generous number) in my first year and a half of publishing. Now I'm approaching 20k and most of those were in the last twelve months.

It's been effective across all platforms (AZ, iTunes, B&N).

Hope that helps a little, Joe!
 
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