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Old 01-24-2010, 01:37 PM   #16
TC Beacham
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Originally Posted by lilac_jive View Post
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).
Thanks a lot for putting my book in your cart! I don't blame you for not wanting to create a big backlog - I tend to buy and read one at a time.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:43 PM   #17
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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?
True - $.99 is the lowest price possible. And the terms in the 1-15-10 agreement update include this:

"You will adjust the List Price as required to ensure that, at all times that the Digital Book is available for sale through the Program, the List Price does not exceed the lowest of: (a) the lowest suggested retail price or equivalent price for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book; (b) the lowest price at which you list or offer any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book on any website or other sales channel; and (c) any maximum List Price we provide from time to time in the Program Policies."

I'm pretty confused at this point about how people are able to do it, though I've heard coupons are okay. Beats me!
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:49 PM   #18
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Just an interesting note - Sony does not include free books in their bestseller list.
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:33 PM   #19
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I only offer so much work for free, especially since I've already listed a book that sold about 2,000 copies before it became free on Smashwords. The First Light Chronicles Omnibus already had a modest following, and it's moved up to the third most downloaded book on Smashwords.

Considering its popularity, I decided to pick up the pace on the final revision of that book, it was like getting a couple thousand phone calls all telling me; "we're here, we're interested and some of us might actually read this, so you'd best hurry the hell up!" So I did, and the final revision replaced the old one a few weeks ago on Smashwords.

The First Light Chronicles Omnibus is up to 7,777 downloads (no kidding, I just checked!), and I can't help but wonder if what I hear more and more on the boards is true; that only about 10% of all eBooks downloaded for free are actually read. The rest just dwell on the reader list, collecting digital dust.

When I think of a number like 7,777 downloads, I immediately assume 90% of people won't read it. Then, since it's hard core science fiction (so several reviewers have told me), I expect only 25% of those readers will go on to read the next two books, which are priced at $1.99 apiece due to their respectable, but small-ish size. The retention from there is about 82% from what I've seen over the last two years, and the rest of the books are priced at $4.99, which is reasonable because they are much larger. [Prices are different outside of Smashwords, where I have varying degrees of control].

So, from that 7,777 download count, my math puts my resulting readership at roughly 159.5. On one hand, those are readers I may have never found if I hadn't made the First Light Chronicles Omnibus free, while on the other, the Omnibus still sells regularly on Mobipocket for $7.99, holding a rank in the top 10, and I'm sure many authors would wonder if putting a price tag on that book would reap greater rewards on Smashwords as well.

Myself, well, I've been self publishing actively since 2004, and even through mid January, new readers are finding me and I sell books every day. I've never had this degree of success, and even though I'm still living from month to month, it's nice knowing that I'm entertaining people well enough to live off what I love doing. I don't have any regrets about making my most popular book free, but on the other hand, I won't be releasing more free material this year or changing prices. I do this for a living, after all.

What I suppose I'm looking for at the end of this long post, is for people to disagree with anything I've said, because I REALLY want to hear about experiences from other authors!

RL
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Last edited by Randolphlalonde; 01-24-2010 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:20 AM   #20
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I've got three short stories (2,000-3,000 words) available for free on Smashwords, and my novel up for $2.49 (with the first 50% available as a free sample).

I'm torn...I want people to read my novel, but I worry that offering it for free devalues it. Plus I put so much time and effort into creating it that just giving it away seems...wrong, somehow.

Maybe after it's been up there and doing nothing for a year I'll have a fit of pique and make it free. Or just delete it. Time will tell, I suppose.

http://www.simonjohncox.com
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:30 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon John Cox View Post
I've got three short stories (2,000-3,000 words) available for free on Smashwords, and my novel up for $2.49 (with the first 50% available as a free sample).

I'm torn...I want people to read my novel, but I worry that offering it for free devalues it. Plus I put so much time and effort into creating it that just giving it away seems...wrong, somehow.

Maybe after it's been up there and doing nothing for a year I'll have a fit of pique and make it free. Or just delete it. Time will tell, I suppose.

http://www.simonjohncox.com
It's hard for me to understand why someone would need to get more than 50% of a novel for free - still trying to get my mind around that idea.

Have you had many downloads of your short stories? Do you think those downloads have led to sales of your novel?
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:34 AM   #22
TC Beacham
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Originally Posted by Randolphlalonde View Post
I only offer so much work for free...www.randolphlalonde.com
Congrats on your success Randolphlalonde - you seem to have a handle on this thing!
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:35 AM   #23
TC Beacham
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Just an interesting note - Sony does not include free books in their bestseller list.
That really is interesting and makes sense to me, since the word "bestseller" indicates that something has actually been "sold."
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:37 AM   #24
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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
I guess Amazon's upcoming deal that will give a 70% royalty for ebooks priced at $2.99-$9.99 is about right then.
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:13 PM   #25
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It's hard for me to understand why someone would need to get more than 50% of a novel for free - still trying to get my mind around that idea.
No one "needs" anything free. Giveaway books are more about what authors and publishers need. If I want to capture readers without or with limited publisher support and funds, free materials are my advertising budget. If I want someone to choose to read my stuff, and I can't prove to them I provide a reliably good experience, they need some other form of persuasion -- in this case, even if I can't deliver, it won't cost you a dime; but if I do, then you've got a new reliable author to go to.

As to what it takes to finally hook a new reader, I'd note that fiction is a big investment, not in terms of dollars, but if I'm going to sit down and read an author I want to know it's going to be worth it. If a friend/reviewer/etc with like interests gives me the go ahead, I know it's worth it. If I've read the author before, ditto. Sometimes a great story hook sucks me in, sometimes even a cover gets my attention. But if it's someone completely unknown, I'm going to be reticent. Sure, sometimes I'm in an experimental mood, but most of the time I just want a reliable experience because my time budget can be tighter than even my wallet, and I don't want to waste what rec time I've got. Even when I'm looking for new books, I'm frequently looking at people I've heard of.

Reading half of a novel probably does tell me if the writer can string sentences together, capture my attention, and maybe even create characters I want to read more of. It doesn't tell me if they can finish well or what the over payoff will be. If I've got an unknown, especially an indie (I hope to be one myself one day, no disparagement intended), and I'm going to invest hours that I might otherwise put into something else into their book AND pay for it, half a novel might not sway me. For example, I probably would not have bought On Baslisk Station (Honor Harrington series) from 5-10 minutes flipping through it at a book store. Honestly, I might never have even noticed it. But Baen Free Library gives away the first book in several series for free. Odds are very good now I'll buy the entire series over a couple years.
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:35 PM   #26
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No one "needs" anything free. Giveaway books are more about what authors and publishers need. If I want to capture readers without or with limited publisher support and funds, free materials are my advertising budget. If I want someone to choose to read my stuff, and I can't prove to them I provide a reliably good experience, they need some other form of persuasion -- in this case, even if I can't deliver, it won't cost you a dime; but if I do, then you've got a new reliable author to go to.

As to what it takes to finally hook a new reader, I'd note that fiction is a big investment, not in terms of dollars, but if I'm going to sit down and read an author I want to know it's going to be worth it. If a friend/reviewer/etc with like interests gives me the go ahead, I know it's worth it. If I've read the author before, ditto. Sometimes a great story hook sucks me in, sometimes even a cover gets my attention. But if it's someone completely unknown, I'm going to be reticent. Sure, sometimes I'm in an experimental mood, but most of the time I just want a reliable experience because my time budget can be tighter than even my wallet, and I don't want to waste what rec time I've got. Even when I'm looking for new books, I'm frequently looking at people I've heard of.

Reading half of a novel probably does tell me if the writer can string sentences together, capture my attention, and maybe even create characters I want to read more of. It doesn't tell me if they can finish well or what the over payoff will be. If I've got an unknown, especially an indie (I hope to be one myself one day, no disparagement intended), and I'm going to invest hours that I might otherwise put into something else into their book AND pay for it, half a novel might not sway me. For example, I probably would not have bought On Baslisk Station (Honor Harrington series) from 5-10 minutes flipping through it at a book store. Honestly, I might never have even noticed it. But Baen Free Library gives away the first book in several series for free. Odds are very good now I'll buy the entire series over a couple years.
Even though as a reader I only need a 10% sample to buy or not, I probably would have experimented with this as an author - if not for the Amazon agreement. I'd hate to get thrown off Amazon, especially when royalties will go up to 70% in June!
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:08 AM   #27
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It's hard for me to understand why someone would need to get more than 50% of a novel for free - still trying to get my mind around that idea.

Have you had many downloads of your short stories? Do you think those downloads have led to sales of your novel?
50% is the standard Smashwords free sample size. I don't really get it either - I buy fiction based on the blurb, reviews (if available), and a flick through about three or so pages to see whether or not the writer can write. I just left the sample size at 50% because...well, I thought because it couldn't hurt to give the reader more of a chance to get hooked on the plot.

Neither my short stories nor my novel have been available for long, so I haven't had many bites at all; but I've had far more downloads of my short stories than I have for my novel.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:43 AM   #28
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What do you think about offering free books?
Most of my short stories and poetry are either free or set your own price.

My novels are not.

At the risk of sounding greedy, I do happen to think that I should get paid for my product
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:37 PM   #29
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I definitely agree with the getting paid part, but it's a big toss-up. If you can't sell the product because people would rather trust something that has gone through the terrible scrutinizing hell of the publishing world, then the best thing to do is to maybe give it away.

Of course, only 10% of downloads actually read is kind of a downer.
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:52 PM   #30
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I definitely agree with the getting paid part, but it's a big toss-up. If you can't sell the product because people would rather trust something that has gone through the terrible scrutinizing hell of the publishing world, then the best thing to do is to maybe give it away.

Of course, only 10% of downloads actually read is kind of a downer.
10% is generous, it's more like 5%.
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