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How the heck can you do it?

I have load of to reads on both of my books (in thousands) and great reviews but my readers don't seem inclined to actually *pay* for anything.

Anyone got any tips on making the journey, or does it just happen naturally after a couple of books (I've noticed several people who read my first reading my latest).

Any guidance would be fantastic.
 

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Well, I'm not sure I'm the best respondent to this, given that I've just started my journey, but...

First you have to wean YOU off of free books. Evidently when you have a free book, you get lots of downloads (and reviews! yay!). I know what a thrill it is to see that I've sold 1 book; I'm sure seeing hundreds or thousands of downloads is thrilling. But free != read, and free isn't selling books for you. So stop doing it.

(I know personally that free doesn't work for me as a reader: I might download free books, but I read the ones I paid for first.)

Are your free books the ones that are the first book in a series? From what I've read here on the Kboards, that works really well. There's less incentive for readers who get a free book to check out *any* other books by an author, but Book 2 in a series where Book 1 hooked them seems to work.

Lots of authors here have reported that "free" doesn't translate to paid nearly as well as it used to. So now you have to do other stuff: put up more work, build your mailing list (you have links in your books to your mailing list, right?), and advertise.
 

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A series is definitely the way to go.  Get the reader invested in the characters and the story and they'll be willing to invest their coin in you.
 

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There is little reason for a consumer to download the same book twice. I'm not even sure if Amazon software allows it. Buyers and free downloaders for the same book are two distinct groups. I'm not sure who is being weaned.
 

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You can't download the same book twice. Amazon tells you that you already have it.

Out of all freebie downloads, the number of people downloading the book because it's free is about 100 times the number of people downloading it because they want to read the book.

This is part of the crapshoot tactics that you accept when making a book free.
 

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As an author with a "perma-free" book, I have no desire to "wean" myself off of having a free book out there. I write stories for people to read. The first book in my series has been downloaded about 40,000 times. I'm not naive enough to think that it's been read that much, but I do know that it is getting in the hands of people interested in reading it. And the sales of book 2 and 3 are better than they would be if 40,000 people hadn't downloaded the book. As I write and publish more, I plan on the first book in all my series being free. I see no reason to wean me or my readers off of Free.
 

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Well, you can buy a second copy, but you'd have to delete the existing version from your Amazon library at Manage Your Kindle first.  Not sure why anyone would do that and then buy the book, but it's technically possible.  But yes, as long as the book exists in your Kindle library, you can't buy a second copy.

Betsy
 

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NathanWrann said:
As an author with a "perma-free" book, I have no desire to "wean" myself off of having a free book out there. I write stories for people to read. The first book in my series has been downloaded about 40,000 times. I'm not naive enough to think that it's been read that much, but I do know that it is getting in the hands of people interested in reading it. And the sales of book 2 and 3 are better than they would be if 40,000 people hadn't downloaded the book. As I write and publish more, I plan on the first book in all my series being free. I see no reason to wean me or my readers off of Free.
Actually, you don't know that. All you know is 40,000 copies have been downloaded. And we ALL know there are lots of bargain basement shoppers that will download free books just because they're free. I am not downing your work, by the way, just making a counter argument.
 

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Umm, stop giving them all away for free?

I only offer the first in my series free, as a no cost leader. If they want the rest of the series and new releases they need to pay for them.
 

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This is a generalised statement, but...think of how big your TBR pile is - I have dozens and dozens of books (freebies and samples) that are waiting for the day I get around to them. Whatever you - cover, blurb, etc, sparked enough interest for all those freeloads...just wait for the turnaround, or focus on a series, or turn off free.
 

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I have 15 months of data that says readers will pay for something after receiving a book for free.  Everyone has what works for them and what works for them, doesn't work for everybody.
 

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The little boy in my picture and I like to play hidden object adventure games together.
We download a sample of a game that looks good and we play it. If we like the sample, we buy the game and play the rest of it.
The samples are very generous, allowing you to play a lot of the game to decide whether you like it or not.

I know the makers of these games must have a LOT of money invested in them - all the incredible illustrations, cut action sequences, voiceovers,  programming etc etc. If they weren't free to try, we wouldn't buy so many, because it sucks paying for something you don't like.

I'll never set the second or third etc books free in a series I write, but I've come to the painful conclusion that I'm most probably going to have sacrifice the first book. It took a big chunk of time to write, but that's how it is. Some people will hate my series and will think it sucks eggs, but at least they'll know that if they try it for free.

In regard to the games my son and I play, I don't review any that we abandon. My view is that others will like what we don't and I don't think it's fair to 'taste-test' and then trash.
 

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I suspect conceptualizing 'my readers' as a single group is problematic.
There are free readers that have no intention of ever buying any books.  They can help improve a single book's visibility and may offer a review.
Other readers do buy books and offering yours free removes the cost of sampling your writing. This may sell a few of your other books, but works best with a series.
 

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Anya said:
I'll never set the second or third etc books free in a series I write, but I've come to the painful conclusion that I'm most probably going to have sacrifice the first book. It took a big chunk of time to write, but that's how it is.
But you aren't really sacrificing anything, are you? You are buying yourself the exposure needed to boost sales by setting the first on permafree.
 

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If you're looking to ween readers off free books, you have to start by weening yourself off them and looking towards other opportunities to grow/retain readerships.

Free was amazing when it worked. It just doesn't have the same punch it once did. Instead, you can slash your price (put the book on sale) and get longer lasting results.

Example: I put TMT for free last summer, had over 20k downloads in 3 days, lingered for a few more days with solid numbers before they climbed really high again. There was no real lasting effect despite the success of the giveaway. I put ITA on sale for .99, did a few paid promos of the sale (spent around $300.00), and today I'm ranking around 14k which is the highest I've been in over a month and half.

After seeing that, I've made a promise to myself not put books for free just because I can. If I opt to run a promo, then it will be once a year and for a special reason. Like they say, "change starts at home."

Existing readers who have enjoyed your work will pay for it. You have opportunities to woo new readers by strategically advertising and doing creative marketing.

Good luck!
 

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I made a big blog public announcement that my series nor its sequels would be free in the future and why (torpedo reviews, basically) and I had several "good on you" type replies. I neglected of course to point out that I might put the first perma-free when the series is finished, but I'm in two minds about that too. I managed to get it accepted as a bargain book by Bookbub and if they'll take it once then they'll take it again. Ideally I'd like to run one every three to four months. For now my standalones are staying in Select, though. I'm going to flog that ox right through to its death ...!
 

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The first book in my series is perma-free.  There have been a substantial number of downloads, enough for my audience to begin finding me and that's terrific.  The other books in the series will never be free nor will there be giveaways of them.  One free book out of my library is sufficient.  If 99 cents became the new "freebie" I'd embrace that.
 

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I guess its down to the point that new readers will be reluctant to pay for your work because they don;t know what your story is like. The only way if for reviews to tell them.

By offering something for free, they have the chance to download it and downloading does not cost anything. When they have the time, they can just read through it and if they like what you make, they will make a note of your name and hunt down other titles. Series seems a good way to go, they can download a free part one and then if they like it, pay for the rest.
 

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The OP said she already has reviews. So she's had people who have read her stuff and like it enough to leave reviews.

Now she either has to do a series and only have the first book be free (as works for so many), or let the reviews on her work speak for themselves and attract *paying* buyers. Which means stop getting the "hit" that giving away books for free obviously gives.
 
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