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Old 12-13-2012, 02:06 PM   #1
jimhbs
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Giving away your books

Authors, what has been your experience in giving your books away free and did you run into any obstacles?
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:34 PM   #2
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Nope and in fact I highly recommend you do that for your first book. It gets your name out there.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:09 PM   #3
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Actually this is one of the questions that I've been interested in. I'm not giving away my first book in general, but would like to offer some give-aways to try and kick start things a bit. I've been meaning to sit down and re-read a my distribution agreement to find out if a limited time/number give-away is going present any problem (you don't want to upset resellers or violate agreements). In theory you can "simply" change your pricing ... but the time it takes for things to get through to resellers makes this a less than ideal way to go, or so it seems to me.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:14 PM   #4
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I gave away my first book at memoware, feedbooks and smashwords and tried to give it away at Amazon which insisted on listing it for a dollar. Later, Amazon discovered that Horrors! it was free at these other sites, so Amazon matched the price, finally making it free. I think the free book has been responsible for people purchasing a few of my other books, but not many. The free book has been downloaded over 100,00 times, but I haven't sold more than a couple hundred, all together, of the other books.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I gave away my first book at memoware, feedbooks and smashwords and tried to give it away at Amazon which insisted on listing it for a dollar. Later, Amazon discovered that Horrors! it was free at these other sites, so Amazon matched the price, finally making it free. I think the free book has been responsible for people purchasing a few of my other books, but not many. The free book has been downloaded over 100,00 times, but I haven't sold more than a couple hundred, all together, of the other books.
My experience is different. When Amazon finally price match my book to make it free, my sales of my other books went up significantly. I can easily pin almost all of my success on that event. Heck that happened a year before I purchased the services of an Editor. Wish I could go back and change that order though!
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:02 PM   #6
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I think you do better if you give it away free and promote it, rather than it just free. Lots of blogs will willingly host a promo if you are offering the book for free.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:43 AM   #7
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My experience has been that many are willing to accept a free book but as far as I can tell in my case it's done nothing to help sell or get the word out. I'm also sure the devil is in the details and it all depends on how you approach/use it.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
My experience has been that many are willing to accept a free book but as far as I can tell in my case it's done nothing to help sell or get the word out. I'm also sure the devil is in the details and it all depends on how you approach/use it.
When my book first went free - around 20k copies were slammed down in a very short period of time. I wish I had had the book edited before that happened, but eh, such is life. As far as I know I saw very little turn over in to sales from that.

Of those 20k, I have no idea how many actually read the book or etc. Since that time (my book as been free for a couple years now) I am pretty steady in the 10-15:1 ratio between free and sales of my other books. I am sure that having 1 book permanently free has drastically impacted my chances of success.

The few limited free days of the Amazon program being discussed here is different. I am not sure if would help at all. So many download free books and never read them, especially if they know the free period is limited.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:55 PM   #9
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I'm fairly new at this, and I don't have firm evidence, but I think posting a couple free stories has helped. I have two free stories up, so far, and one for purchase. The free stories have gotten a lot of downloads and several very nice reviews at Smashwords, B&N, and Kobo. The one I'm charging for has only gotten a few buyers, but if I had posted it without any way for a potential customer to get to know my style I suspect it would have been even harder to get that potential customer interested.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:25 AM   #10
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What about offering the book at 50% off for a certain period before going to a regular sales price? Has anyone done that with their 1st book? and if so how did it work out for you?
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:09 PM   #11
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I am not seeing the numbers you all are, but on Amazon my free book is ranked in the Top 100 Free Romance > Short Stories and more recently Free Fantasy > Contemporary with close to 500 downloads. This hasn't led to sales for my second book. (I have sold a few copies but I'm pretty sure those sales have been to family and friends.) I have no idea how many times it's been downloaded elsewhere since I used Smashwords as the distributor. I can see SW's numbers & Sony's, but the other stores are all zero. Total free downloads (that I know of): 635.

This being said, more people are visiting my website, that's been nice. Though it's trickled off over the holidays, but that may be because I haven't been as active posting.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:20 PM   #12
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I'm not saying there's any science on my side here, but my feeling is that there's a big difference between giving a book away and having it read. I think there are a lot of hoarders out there, and their reading device is the equivalent of a house stuffed with old newspapers. They love the idea that they've gotten something for free, and maybe even believe that someday they will read a few of those free books. But the thrill was all in the acquisition.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:34 PM   #13
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I'm not saying there's any science on my side here, but my feeling is that there's a big difference between giving a book away and having it read. I think there are a lot of hoarders out there, and their reading device is the equivalent of a house stuffed with old newspapers. They love the idea that they've gotten something for free, and maybe even believe that someday they will read a few of those free books. But the thrill was all in the acquisition.
I agree and that seems to be my experience as well.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:43 PM   #14
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I am not an author, but I have a blog where I review books and have a small readership who take my recommendations and buy. The advice I can offer is twofold:

1. Make sure your book is edited before going free. No typos. No obviously misplaced punctuation. No extra words from an earlier revision hiding inside your new prose. I see a lot of these mistakes in the books that are offered for free. Not to say every book, but a well edited free book is a rare gem indeed. And you want positive reviews from the free book to drive your sales.

2. If you want the book to be permanently free, make purchase a pay-for-convenience thing. Serialize the book on a blog (really draw it out at half or quarter chapters per post and post 3 times a week) but then offer a link in the side bar to where those who are impatient can buy the whole book, easily.

I know quite a few authors that do this very successfully to build an audience for their later works, but also get paid for this sample work too. It seemed like a good model so I filed it away and am happy to share.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:44 PM   #15
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I'm not saying there's any science on my side here, but my feeling is that there's a big difference between giving a book away and having it read. I think there are a lot of hoarders out there, and their reading device is the equivalent of a house stuffed with old newspapers. They love the idea that they've gotten something for free, and maybe even believe that someday they will read a few of those free books. But the thrill was all in the acquisition.
Yes. I count "downloads" of my free book like advertisers would count clicks on a banner add. It tells me my "advertisement" got in front of a real human and they at least saw it.

If they then go on to read and buy one of my non-free books - then it is a conversion. If not, its just a view and life goes on. I can definitely say that spikes in free downloads are followed by spikes in sales, IME. So it does work, but there is no magic power in it. It is just a form of advertising.
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