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Old 01-23-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
TC Beacham
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"With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell"

"Here’s a riddle: How do you make your book a best seller on the Kindle?

Answer: Give copies away.

That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge.

Although some of the titles are digital versions of books in the public domain — like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” — many are by authors still trying to make a living from their work.

Earlier this week, for example, the No. 1 and 2 spots on Kindle’s best-seller list were taken by “Cape Refuge” and “Southern Storm,” both novels by Terri Blackstock, a writer of Christian thrillers. The Kindle price: $0. Until the end of the month, Ms. Blackstock’s publisher, Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is offering readers the opportunity to download the books free to the Kindle or to the Kindle apps on their iPhone or in Windows.

Publishers including Harlequin, Random House and Scholastic are offering free versions of digital books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers, as well as on author Web sites, as a way of allowing readers to try out the work of unfamiliar writers. The hope is that customers who like what they read will go on to obtain another title for money."

Continued...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/books/23kindle.html


Free samples are plenty for me to decide whether or not to invest in a book, but it seems many people want more.

What do you think about offering free books?
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Old 01-23-2010, 02:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TC Beacham View Post
What do you think about offering free books?
My own experience, FWIW. I originally charged for all my ebooks, and got a trickle of downloads. I decided to make the first one free, and fairly rapidly found it getting thousands of downloads - and hundreds of sales of the later books.

Readers are presented with a plethora of unfamiliar names when they go searching. And people are used to having quite vast amounts of free content on the 'net. Even $1.99 can be a barrier when it comes to trying the unknown.
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shayne Parkinson View Post
My own experience, FWIW. I originally charged for all my ebooks, and got a trickle of downloads. I decided to make the first one free, and fairly rapidly found it getting thousands of downloads - and hundreds of sales of the later books.

Readers are presented with a plethora of unfamiliar names when they go searching. And people are used to having quite vast amounts of free content on the 'net. Even $1.99 can be a barrier when it comes to trying the unknown.
Wow, that's quite a difference! Was your free book the first in a series? I'm wondering if it works for stand alone titles.
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:02 PM   #4
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Wow, that's quite a difference! Was your free book the first in a series? I'm wondering if it works for stand alone titles.
Yes, it's the first in a series, and I think that probably does help - people have got involved with the characters by the time they have to decide whether or not to spend money on reading more about them.

Having said that, I've heard other writers say it's worked for them even where their second books have been very different from their first ones. Some take a middle way and offer a short story or novella for free.
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Shayne Parkinson View Post
Yes, it's the first in a series, and I think that probably does help - people have got involved with the characters by the time they have to decide whether or not to spend money on reading more about them.

Having said that, I've heard other writers say it's worked for them even where their second books have been very different from their first ones. Some take a middle way and offer a short story or novella for free.
Hmm, offering a short story or novella is something I hadn't thought of. Thanks - and congrats for making it work for you!
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:56 PM   #6
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One thing that does work is that if you have a book series and ALL of them are going to be out as an eBook, give away the first one. I've found some good authors that way.
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shayne Parkinson View Post
My own experience, FWIW. I originally charged for all my ebooks, and got a trickle of downloads. I decided to make the first one free, and fairly rapidly found it getting thousands of downloads - and hundreds of sales of the later books.

Readers are presented with a plethora of unfamiliar names when they go searching. And people are used to having quite vast amounts of free content on the 'net. Even $1.99 can be a barrier when it comes to trying the unknown.
Free is good as long as the subsequent books are not at a price that's too high.
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:43 PM   #8
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Free is good as long as the subsequent books are not at a price that's too high.
What would you consider too high for an indie author's subsequent books?
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:19 PM   #9
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I think the highest I've seen is 4.99. The average is between 1.99 - 3.99...Then there are some indie publishers that charge 9.99 for their e-books
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:56 PM   #10
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Hmm, offering a short story or novella is something I hadn't thought of. Thanks - and congrats for making it work for you!
You're welcome :-) And thanks.
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:03 PM   #11
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What would you consider too high for an indie author's subsequent books?
I've seen $1.99 recommended on several sites. That's what I'd already decided to price mine at.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:46 AM   #12
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Considering that sites like Smashwords have dozens of new books posted every day (hour?), it becomes more than a little difficult to sift through the slurry of what is good and what is not. Oddly, I saw a short story, a very very short story (under 2000 words) up there recently for 2 dollars, which seems a bit silly to me.

It's also not just the offering for free bit. I had my novel listed for about a month at, "Pay what you want, including nothing." I received about 75 or so downloads in that time, most of which were at no cost. I decided to make it entirely free last week, and now I have almost 700. The difference between the two is that, with the "pay what you want," you have to set up an account to download it. With it free, you don't need one; that just eliminates an entire step in the process of loading up the e-reader.

In the end, it's about having a name and a reputation. Although I think it's not a bad idea to put a short story or two up, either, just to have a little more for people to see.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:30 AM   #13
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What would you consider too high for an indie author's subsequent books?
I'd say sub $5.

I feel bad requesting such low prices for books, but with the amount of books available on smashwords (and the amount of junk that's on there), BUT if I see people here on MR enjoying the book, I'll pay a little more. That's why I really try to push pay books that I've enjoyed and read on smashwords.

By the way, I have your book in my cart with a few more books, but I have to read a few more ebooks before I buy any more (I'm really trying to stick with the rule to buy one ebook for every two read).
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:43 PM   #14
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I was under the impression that Amazon's indie platform had a minimum charge. I assume only publishers are able to pull of these freebie offerings on Amazon, or has something changed?
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kemp View Post
Considering that sites like Smashwords have dozens of new books posted every day (hour?), it becomes more than a little difficult to sift through the slurry of what is good and what is not. Oddly, I saw a short story, a very very short story (under 2000 words) up there recently for 2 dollars, which seems a bit silly to me.

It's also not just the offering for free bit. I had my novel listed for about a month at, "Pay what you want, including nothing." I received about 75 or so downloads in that time, most of which were at no cost. I decided to make it entirely free last week, and now I have almost 700. The difference between the two is that, with the "pay what you want," you have to set up an account to download it. With it free, you don't need one; that just eliminates an entire step in the process of loading up the e-reader.

In the end, it's about having a name and a reputation. Although I think it's not a bad idea to put a short story or two up, either, just to have a little more for people to see.
For me the free samples available at Smashwords and Kindle are plenty. But it seems that for some the internet is seen as a place to get free stuff.
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