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Old 04-13-2011, 09:19 AM   #1
chrisanthropic
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Using Torrents as free advertising

I'm curious if anyone has played around with offering their books as free torrents?

I'm a huge fan of torrents as is my wife. She decided to release her first book for free in as many places as possible and we uploaded it to Demonoid, our favorite torrent site.

It's been about a month and we've had 250 downloads. Here's what we've noticed in that month:
  • International traffic to the website increased.
  • We received a few comments on the torrent, but none about the actual book.
  • We sold a few copies of the book from Smashwords from people who downloaded the torrent first.
  • The book got uploaded to a few other sites within a week, but we can't track the downloads from those sites so there is no way for us to know how popular it is on them.

Do any of you have any experiences with your work and torrents?
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:35 AM   #2
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Here's an observation - most books downloaded for free are never read.

How do you know the torrent led to sales on Smashwords? How much are you selling the book for on Smashwords?

I'm not arguing against torrents as a means of distribution, quite the reverse, but it seems self-defeating to use a giveaway to drive sales of an ebook. Using a free ebook to drive sales of a dead tree edition is well-established now - though it's up for debate whether that will hold true in a few more years when ebook readers are ubiquitous.

If she wants to gauge how widely read she is the easiest way to track that is to ask for feedback emails at the end of the book. Maybe 1 person in fifty will get back to you. Or some other ratio you can pick, depending on how popular you want to feel.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:44 AM   #3
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I haven't used torrents but I've put stuff on usenet and cyberlocker forums. I saw a spike of traffic to my website each time. No donations though. I don't have anything for sale on Smashwords, I don't think it would really work as promotion that way. It's more about building an audience, but like Dadio says, most people who download it won't read it anyway.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadioflex View Post
Here's an observation - most books downloaded for free are never read.
I'd be interested to know what you base this on. I've never come across anyone who had the faintest idea whether their free downloads were read or not. Some hard evidence one way or the other would be very helpful.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:01 PM   #5
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@dadioflex - at this point she's not concerned with the sales so much as with exposure and getting people to read the book...that's why the book is free to begin with (actually it's pay-what-you-want). We know they purchased it because they told us so and we saw it reflected in the reports.

I'm not really arguing either way at this point, since like you said, we've had very little actual feedback from those who did download it. Who knows if they even bothered to read it or not?
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinC View Post
I'd be interested to know what you base this on. I've never come across anyone who had the faintest idea whether their free downloads were read or not. Some hard evidence one way or the other would be very helpful.
If you wanted to you could put a web-bug in it somewhere, then you would know if they opened it on their computer or not.

I've downloaded lots of free ebooks from Amazon (and elsewhere ), I'd say I've read about 1% of them at best. I'm more likely to read something free if it is short, simply because it's easier to fit in while I'm in the middle of something else. Reading something for free is also the only way anyone new would make it onto my buying list, so it's certainly worth using as a promotional tool.

When I pay for them, even if it's only 70p or whatever, the reading rate goes up to about 75%. The paid ones I don't read are usually ones I buy at the same time as something else and then another book comes along before I get to read it and jumps its place.
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