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Victorine said:
I made over $450 in two weeks on The Practice Date after it went free and then back to paid. Before that I was making $22 a month from that book.

Free worked for me, even if I don't look at long term, just short term.

Vicki
I know that others besides Vicki have worked this to their benefit. I think what's happening is that some writers worry that with all the freebies out there, that their books won't (or haven't been) sell well. I think that anxiety is behind the repeated questioning of free books.

I for one haven't tried it, and sometimes I ask if beyond those short term gains for selected (or even most) indies by putting up a free book, does giving them away in some manner damage the market? I don't know the answer to this. I hope not, but I've read some opining that freebies do devalue the ebook market generally. I mean, there are a lot of activities I might do that would pay me in the short run while hurting in the long run--for myself and for others possibly.

But I'm going to keep an open mind and try it myself. I just want to make sure I'm not part of any movement that damages the overall market, the ability of indies to profit by their writing that would otherwise be buried in some drawer.
 
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Ann in Arlington said:
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
Dear Ann, I respectfully wonder about your post. Who here is not "playing nice?" I've seen this before on this board, that an administrator will post as if there is a flame war going on, or uncivil discourse. I understand your role here but why not allow a discussion on a topic UNTIL someone gets out of line, and then call out that poster? Why do it in this situation?

So, I humbly ask, why do you post to "play nice," when that's what's been going on here.
 

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See, I don't buy the argument that putting books up for free devalues anything. If someone downloads a free book, loves it and wants the rest of the series or more books by that author, they're going to spend money to get them.

Take Harry Potter. If the first had been free, don't you think people would still be waiting in lines at midnight to get the next book? The story is what they want, not just "a free book...any book will do as long as it's free."

It's not like coffee mugs. You start giving away coffee mugs everywhere and sales will go down because you can get them free everywhere. But books are totally different. You fall in love with a story, or the way an author tells a story, and you've got them hooked. They'll find a way to buy the rest of your stuff.

If free isn't working, then I'd suggest joining critiquecircle.com or some other crit group and try to get to the root of the problem.

Vicki
 

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In response to Mike's question, rather than have to put the flames out or lock threads, we prefer that flame wars not happen at all. Our experience has shown that an occasional preemptive word prevents flame wars.

And frankly, we have had a string of people asking for their accounts to be deleted after discussions that have turned unpleasant in the Writers' Café.  This is not the reputation we want KindleBoards to have.  I take it personally when someone tells me that KindleBoards is an unpleasant place, because I and my fellow mods all work pretty hard to keep it friendly here.  When we have to lock a thread, I consider it a failure.

We can disagree without being disagreeable.  And there is no requirement that every thread be responded to.  If you are tired of discussing a topic, don't discuss it.  Lots of other threads here...

Betsy
 

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I got Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky.  The first of her series for free, because it had good reviews.  Then I was hooked and bought the rest of the series.  So it's a wonderful marketing tool for those who have series.

For those who do not have series, and write in different genres, the marketing of one book free may help sales.  But it may not.

Quality counts, and I pay more for authors I love.  John Sandford, King, Lee Child - I must have them.

I got The Mill Valley Recluse for free.  Now it's #1 in paid on Amazon.  So the strategy works for high quality books as well.  And that author only has one book out.
 

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Even if books weren't for free the sheer number of books available will make it difficult to get noticed. The great thing about this market being so new is that many genres don't have enough (or no) books for potential readers. Staying ahead of the pack is a good approach. I cater to the long tail (Chris Anderson) and tribes (Seth Godin) and adapt as necessary. I still write books for the bigger markets, but I am shoring up my back end by serving readers who are underserved.
 
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Betsy the Quilter said:
In response to Mike's question, rather than have to put the flames out or lock threads, we prefer that flame wars not happen at all. Our experience has shown that an occasional preemptive word prevents flame wars.

And frankly, we have had a string of people asking for their accounts to be deleted after discussions that have turned unpleasant in the Writers' Café. This is not the reputation we want KindleBoards to have. I take it personally when someone tells me that KindleBoards is an unpleasant place, because I and my fellow mods all work pretty hard to keep it friendly here. When we have to lock a thread, I consider it a failure.

We can disagree without being disagreeable. And there is no requirement that every thread be responded to. If you are tired of discussing a topic, don't discuss it. Lots of other threads here...

Betsy
Thanks. I guess I've missed any threads that were uncivil here. I've only been around about a year now, so was rather nonplussed when I've seen these "preemptive" advisories. It seemed like a referee was saying "break it up" when there was no fight. For some being disagreed with IS disagreeable. Some of us are cursed with being too right, a failing I've struggled with. My 92 year old father never argued much with anyone--he always says, "you may be right," which diffuses a lot of conflict. I try to put most of my conflict in my novels. Maybe you're right. Maybe "preemptive" is necessary.
 

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Speaking only as a reader, I avoid free.  Don't even glance at it.  In my mind, it's that jar at the counter of a diner the little sticky sugary treats that aren't quite mints and aren't quite sweets and leave an vaguely synthetic taste in my mouth.

As a author I consider it a marketing gimmick, but I could see it being effective.  Doubly so for the first book in a series that's already written. 

That said, I personally have no desire to attract readers who browse only by price and won't roll the dice on a sample and a few dollars.  Not interested in them at all.  But hey, what do I know?  I've only sold 50 copies of my book in 6 weeks so I'm the furthest thing from an expert on these matters.
 

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As a reader I snag up books that go free, if they're something that I've been eyeing for a while and plan to read in the future but haven't gotten interested enough, or don't have the money at that moment to buy them. I don't load up my Kindle with free stuff I never plan to read, I also don't buy every discounted item I see, or freak out when there's a sale.

So, I suspect I am one of those readers that you could pull into a series, or get interested in your writing style even if you have unconnected titles just by using the "free" book method.

Dawn
 

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nomesque said:
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.
Totally agree 100%. Free and 99 cents for full length novels lowers the perceived value. If you want to give searching readers a taste of your writing, then write a short story or novella (and label it as such), and then post it for a reasonable low price.
 

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Give the milk away for free and sell the chocolate milk.  The cow can fend for itself.

The trick is for an author to become a brand.  Readers buy books from authors they know.  Free books is a way to get known and develop a brand.

Another option is to give away a few for free, sell few for $.99, sell a few for $2.99, sell a few for $4.99 and maybe even a little more.  Hit all the price points to get different types of readers.  There is truth in every price point.

We're all trying to guess what the best method is and every author finds the path they're most comfortable with.  The one constant is that improving quality of writing is the best thing any author can do.
 

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I don't know why "readers would buy a cow if a pint of the milk it produced was free," but in my case they do.

People who download free can be more discerning than you think, although I have no doubt there are those who download for the hell of it. I can tell by my smashwords stats that not everyone who visits the page goes on to download.And I assume that is because I clearly mark it as a short story.

The market for short stories is small and even smaller when you thin it down by genre and short story length classification. I clearly mark my individual shorts with "short story," in the title and I have made one of them free that is also a story from my Lunch Break thrillers compilation. The numbers of free downloads is not as high as those who have a full length book, but there is a definite pattern and percentage of those who download the free story and then go on to buy the compilation at$4.99.

From my own personal experience that is vindication enough for me to know that it works as a marketing tool in the circumstances I describe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
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 think many authors are training their readers to expect free books.

Unfortunately, these readers probably won't buy any of our books either, unless they are free.
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
I think many authors are training their readers to expect free books.

Unfortunately, these readers probably won't buy any of our books either, unless they are free.
I think it's an enormous stretch to blame the lower sales one author experiences on the free book trend other authors use as a marketing technique.
 
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