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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I go to Barnes & Nobel and type in free books into the search, I get a ton of books, so many I can't check through them all.  Then when I type in the same search in Amazon, I also get the same thing, tons of free books.

Sales seem to be getting progressively worse month by month. 

Readers seem to be loading up with free books and not buying very many.

So why buy the cow when the milk is free?
 

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Which is why I don't "get" making your book free.  True, we write because we love to write...but don't we also want to be paid something for it?  Yes, free can get a bunch of people reading your book...but most of those only get "free" books, so how do you gain anything by that?  You don't even gain the knowledge that your work is good, because "free" is...well...um, free.
 

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The rationale behind a loss-leader (that's what this practise is called in the industry) is to get as many readers as possible, in order to have an eager audience for the next books. People like King, Koontz, etc., don't need to do that, but new and unknown writers can use this to generate brand recognition.


edit: This was the third typo I found in this post. What's going on today? :D
 

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90 percent of what you attract by giving stuff away are people looking only for free stuff. Not YOUR stuff; ANY free stuff.

If you want to attract LOYAL FANS, rather than random people who will download any freebie, then try competing on the basis of something other than price.

Try working on your writing craft, first of all: Many great books by little-known writers are succeeding solely by word of mouth. Then, do what you can to surround it with good "cosmetics." Save a bit of money and invest in a great cover. Craft sizzling promo copy for Amazon and other online sales venues. If your advance and early readers like it, encourage them to write reader reviews (if they DON'T, then perhaps you should go back and work on your writing, eh?). Devote just one hour per day seeking out promotional opportunities.

But don't train your readers to expect your books for free. If you do that, they will NEVER buy anything from you, and you will NEVER turn your writing into a paying career.
 

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My sales are continually trending upwards on B&N, despite having a (popular) free book available there. Almost as if it's winning me repeat readers, somehow.
 

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Half-Orc said:
Yeah okay.
Dave, THIS is what you've been doing wrong!! *face-palm* If only we knew not to make our books free a year ago, you could've been saved from those horrible few-thousand-dollar cheques you keep receiving.

(apologies if I've understated the extent of your 'pain')
 

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Robert Bidinotto said:
90 percent of what you attract by giving stuff away are people looking only for free stuff. Not YOUR stuff; ANY free stuff.

If you want to attract LOYAL FANS, rather than random people who will download any freebie, then try competing on the basis of something other than price.

Try working on your writing craft, first of all: Many great books by little-known writers are succeeding solely by word of mouth. Then, do what you can to surround it with good "cosmetics." Save a bit of money and invest in a great cover. Craft sizzling promo copy for Amazon and other online sales venues. If your advance and early readers like it, encourage them to write reader reviews (if they DON'T, then perhaps you should go back and work on your writing, eh?). Devote just one hour per day seeking out promotional opportunities.

But don't train your readers to expect your books for free. If you do that, they will NEVER buy anything from you, and you will NEVER turn your writing into a paying career.
I agree with some of what you say. The exception being, if you have a trilogy or a series of connected books, and you put the first one free for a limited time--after discreetly bumping up the prices on the other two--then it works as a means of getting the reader to buy the other books. I've had success with that twice, both in Amazon US and Amazon UK...where (in the UK) my books were selling very minimally (as in I was happy if I sold 20 total in a month) to post freebie promotion where I've sold several hundred each of the past few months. So it does work that way.

My most successful freebie was the first one, which Amazon did without my knowledge, they just made it free, and I had no idea this was a good thing at the time. So I panicked when I saw 60K downloads in a 48 hr period and badgered Amazon until they put the price back up. That was a year ago March, and the book is still one of my best sellers.
 

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It's fairly basic marketing for a series or a product. Give people a taste, for free, and if they like it they'll come back for more. Free coupons for products, trial sizes -- those are common in other fields. Free books at industry conventions and for book reviewers have been mainstays for a long time in publishing. Now that EVERYONE can be a reviewer, giving a free eBook away to spur paid sales of an author's backlist is the goal.

If you only have 1 book, though, making it free only makes sense if your goal is to boost it into the higher algorithm levels. And even then -- I'd wait until you have two, but more like three, to catch the spillover effect and convert readers to paid buyers.
 

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My message was directed at folks who are just making their titles free, willy-nilly, not at those who have multiple titles and are running short-term promotions using a "loss leader" or "free sample."

I have only one title out so far; I've priced it at $3.99 from day one; and sales have increased steadily without any price slashing.
 

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I have 2 titles but my genres are completely different - I can't change that, it's how the words came out.  Making one free would have no effect on the other and, the bottom line is, if you believe your work product is good, value it appropriately.  I am reading a book right now that I think is well written and a good story - it was a .99er and I am compelled to tell the author she needs to up the price because it is worth it (but I won't).
 

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Robert Bidinotto said:
90 percent of what you attract by giving stuff away are people looking only for free stuff. Not YOUR stuff; ANY free stuff.

If you want to attract LOYAL FANS, rather than random people who will download any freebie, then try competing on the basis of something other than price.

Try working on your writing craft, first of all: Many great books by little-known writers are succeeding solely by word of mouth. Then, do what you can to surround it with good "cosmetics." Save a bit of money and invest in a great cover. Craft sizzling promo copy for Amazon and other online sales venues. If your advance and early readers like it, encourage them to write reader reviews (if they DON'T, then perhaps you should go back and work on your writing, eh?). Devote just one hour per day seeking out promotional opportunities.

But don't train your readers to expect your books for free. If you do that, they will NEVER buy anything from you, and you will NEVER turn your writing into a paying career.
Completely agree that it starts with the writing and promotion. Free works for and against authors and not everyone's results will be the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am reading a book right now that I think is well written and a good story - it was a .99er and I am compelled to tell the author she needs to up the price because it is worth it (but I won't).
Why not tell her to up her price. She may not realize it is worth any more than $.99.

I think everyone should consider raising their prices to what they feel they are worth, and stop giving them away for free like they are worthless.
 

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What I don't understand is why you still don't understand that this strategy works for many here and drives sales. If it doesn't work for you, don't use it, but there is no reason for others to ignore a viable marketing technique.
 

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Some just like to stir the pot.
 

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Monique said:
What I don't understand is why you still don't understand that this strategy works for many here and drives sales. If it doesn't work for you, don't use it, but there is no reason for others to ignore a viable marketing technique.
Agree with Monique here - it works for some people and people are happy doing it. I don't understand why you bring this topic up once a month?

Mike
 

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Let's play nice, folks, shall we?

The topic does come up regularly. . . I think it's not always the same person who starts the topic, though.  There are 3 or 4 threads about books being free in the first 4 or 5 pages of the Cafe at this moment. . .and that's actually a little low. ::)

Synopsis of the discussion to date:  it works well for some, for a variety of reasons.  It doesn't work for others, for a variety of reasons.  Each person gets to decide for themselves whether to try it, or not, and no one else gets to tell them they're right or wrong to do it.  How's that sound? ;D
 
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