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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I know some of you have been experimenting with "free as a sales tool". It's fascinating to me and I love hearing the different ways that you guys approach it. I know that some are using a free story or novella to lead people into your body of work, and others are making the first title in a series free in the hopes of hooking the reader.

I interviewed someone today with a radical approach. Indie author Lizzy Ford is about half-way through her plan to release 12 titles this year (mostly novels), and make them ALL free. Next year she will start charging for everything and even has plans for a subscription model (she is frighteningly prolific).

Full interview here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/free-as-a-sales-tool-interview-with-indie-writer-lizzy-ford/

Dave
 

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dgaughran said:
Hi,

I know some of you have been experimenting with "free as a sales tool". It's fascinating to me and I love hearing the different ways that you guys approach it. I know that some are using a free story or novella to lead people into your body of work, and others are making the first title in a series free in the hopes of hooking the reader.

I interviewed someone today with a radical approach. Indie author Lizzy Ford is about half-way through her plan to release 12 titles this year (mostly novels), and make them ALL free. Next year she will start charging for everything and even has plans for a subscription model (she is frighteningly prolific).

Full interview here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/free-as-a-sales-tool-interview-with-indie-writer-lizzy-ford/

Dave
I left this comment on your blog

I have to admit that I thought long and hard about giving my books away free. I keep hoping Amazon will email to say I have been selected for a free promotion and make the decision for me. I interviewed Jo Ellis for my Book Buzz page on my blog. I was amazed that she had over 100,000 downloads in a few months on Amazon for her one book. Jo is a prolific writer and her strategy was to charge for her sequel once she had gained a readership. It will be interesting to find out if this strategy has worked for her. As soon as I finish here, I will go and check out the rankings of her second book.

My only misgiving is, just how many of the readers actually read something when they have downloaded it free
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's a very good point Declan, and one that can only be answered conclusively in Lizzy Ford's case next year.

I know other people on this board have been using the "free" tactic in a variety of different ways.

I'm trying it myself with my next release "Let's Get Digital". The PDF will be free on my website, and it will be on sale on Amazon for $2.99.

I will be pushing the free version much, much harder than the paid version. There will be a donate button and a note asking people if they found it useful to consider donating or purchasing another title (or the Kindle version).

I have no idea if it will work. I have no idea if I will even cover my editing costs. I will let you all know how it goes.
 

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I run free giveaways on Smashwords all the time (coupon code XW62B). I also keep at least one of my books on a Goodreads giveaway at all times. Unfortunately, I haven't been organized enough to position myself for an Amazon free fest.. Maybe next time...

Free works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
WilliamEsmont said:
I run free giveaways on Smashwords all the time (coupon code XW62B). I also keep at least one of my books on a Goodreads giveaway at all times. Unfortunately, I haven't been organized enough to position myself for an Amazon free fest.. Maybe next time...

Free works.
Do they still have that rule on Goodreads where it has to be a print copy for a giveaway?
 

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All my work is free.

I put up all my work on torrents for free download. Once it's given out to the world there is no way to put that genie back in the bottle. Apart from that, I put up work on my website.

I do this because I very strongly support the idea of access to information as a human right. I cannot then only sell my work via Amazon which does not distribute to a large percentage of the world. Almost 20% of downloads come from countries defined as "other" - places Amazon and other etailers aren't going to in the foreseeable future. Also, people in these countries can't pay what Amazon charges.

I'll eventually be donating all my work to the public domain for anyone to do whatever they want with it. I'm not quite sure how this will come about but it will definitely happen while I'm alive and not 70 years after my death.

I'm quite looking forward to relinquishing my copyright on everything I've created and giving it away!
 

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Now that is radical. I read part of the blog and discussion. I need to finish it tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Matthew,

I like the idea of putting all my work in the public domain too. Maybe after I pay off my credit card bill. And my mortgage. And those other bills I don't even open anymore.

Seriously though, you have an interesting approach. I would love to hear more,.

Dave
 

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dgaughran said:
Hey Matthew,

I like the idea of putting all my work in the public domain too. Maybe after I pay off my credit card bill. And my mortgage. And those other bills I don't even open anymore.

Seriously though, you have an interesting approach. I would love to hear more,.

Dave
If I just look at the ebooks, they've been downloaded 91,229 times. If I add in other things I've made (pitch bible, script, etc) then it's just over 150,000 downloads via torrents.

I can report there is some effect on sales from the most recent torrents because I started using affiliate links for tracking purposes. I can actually see people clicking on them and then going to Amazon to buy other titles. I can't tell with the older torrents because I used standard links.

I don't have enough data to give a statistically significant result yet. The next ebook I release with be an adult title which I expect will sell far more than the children's titles. I'm going to try to establish some baseline of sales then release it on torrents to see if there is a measurable and significant effect on sales.

I've seriously been considering trying out writing a title and then immediately relinquishing copyright upon publication. I like the idea of it as an experiment to see what would happen and also as a very strong statement against the current sick form of copyright that rules the world.

I encourage everyone to put a title up on a torrent and see it spread around the world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So is your plan to have a bunch of free stuff, and then some paid stuff, and hope that the free stuff gets the word out and some of those will spring for the paid stuff?

Or do you want to make all your stuff completely free?
 

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dgaughran said:
So is your plan to have a bunch of free stuff, and then some paid stuff, and hope that the free stuff gets the word out and some of those will spring for the paid stuff?

Or do you want to make all your stuff completely free?
There is no plan - apart from acting in accordance with my position on copyright, file-sharing and access to information. The money/sales part of it doesn't matter.

Everything I'll publish to Kindle will be free on torrents without exception. I may delay a release here and there to see if I can measure any statistically significant effect but that's about it.
 

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mathewferguson said:
There is no plan - apart from acting in accordance with my position on copyright, file-sharing and access to information. The money/sales part of it doesn't matter.

Everything I'll publish to Kindle will be free on torrents without exception. I may delay a release here and there to see if I can measure any statistically significant effect but that's about it.
That's sort of where I'm headed as well. All of my stuff is free, and will remain so as long as I can keep it that way. I have no plans to put a price on my WIP to be released this Fall. I'm thinking about shifting Copyright to Creative Commons, not because of any deeply held philosophy of information, just because the piddly amounts I would make by charging are more an annoyance than a benefit. I'm not sure how many people read the free stuff, but that's okay. Some do. I still get reviews.

However, Amazon UK just went back to charging $0.99 and people are buying in dribs and drabs. The only way to stop that would to yank my work completely off of Amazon again. If things get out of hand, I just might do that. I really don't want to accumulate any cash.
 

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Free is compelling to readers, no doubt about that.

Konrath has several of his books on his blog for free download. Others are using Smashwords to upload several free stories and then having paid ones too. Using free to attract new readers appears to be a working strategy.

I've using SampleSunday as one free day for readers every week. So I have been including a mixture of complete works on SampleSunday along with a mixture of partial stories and excerpts from my book. I'm going to begin sharing some excerpts from upcoming books soon to try building advance buzz and see how that goes.

There are all kinds of way to market our work and at least some way of using free with prospective readers seems like a good idea. I'm trying to do things that I think are cool as a reader.
 
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