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Old 02-22-2010, 01:33 PM   #1
jseay
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Should I offer some of my eBooks for free?

I have read that offering some of your eBooks for free can be a great way to build your readership. What has been your experience with offering free eBooks? Thanks.

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Old 02-22-2010, 01:42 PM   #2
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As a reader, I like the "tip jar" model. It's just a "donate" button from Paypal. Your readers download the book for free, then if they like it, they put a few bucks into your account.

I was just talking to Wendy Potluki about this a day or so ago. She is giving them away for freen, but the purchase price without her code is only $1. So I bought it, because I think you authors deserve to be paid. But with the "tip jar" model, I usually leave $5. So IMHO, she is undervaluing her hard work.

On the other hand, it allows the reader to not pay for something that turns out to be unreadable or uninteresting.

I'm sure the other authors here will have very different opinions to share with you.

Good luck witih your writing!
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:15 AM   #3
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:46 PM   #4
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But.. but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadioflex View Post
Richard Herley - "I confess I was sorely disappointed by the initial response - some 11,000 ebooks were downloaded, but only 25 people made a payment. "

Commenting on his experiment with a tip jar. He wrote "The Penal Colony" that the Ray Liotta flick "No Escape" was based on. And he posts here from time to time.

As a promotional tool it's fine, but it's not gonna make you rich.
I don't know how long his experiment lasted, but I can tell you that I just got my first Sony Reader a few weeks ago and have already downloaded hundreds of free books, including quite a few of Richard Herley's. I haven't had time to read any of his books yet. (I had a few library ebooks to get through, first.) I think he'll find that the money will continue to come in as more people read and enjoy. I certainly intend to pay if I like the books. But with limited-time free book offers coming at me from all directions, it's overwhelming to try to get to them all in a timely manner!
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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Classics, promo, ARCs and special gifts apart, I would never so much as glance at a free or $1.99 book. Their quality I have found in the past is similar to that found by the dozen in my daily and dreary slushpile of sub-standard submissions. Certainly, I will only risk my precious recreational time on something with a price tag that suggests serious editorial input and professional publishing. Sure, that's no guarantee of of a great read, but at least it lowers the odds against tripe. Sorry to sound so grumpy. Neil

Last edited by neilmarr; 02-23-2010 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilmarr View Post
Classics, promo, ARCs and special gifts apart, I would never so much as glance at a free or $1.99 book. Their quality I have found in the past is similar to that found by the dozen in my daily and dreary slushpile of sub-standard submissions. Certainly, I will only risk my precious recreational time on something with a price tag that suggests serious editorial input and professional publishing. Sure, that's no guarantee of of a great read, but at least it lowers the odds against tripe. Sorry to sound so grumpy. Neil
Sadly, that is the attitude that the unpublished author needs to work against, and not just for readers. There is a general assumption (sadly, there's quite a bit of truth to it) that the work is of a lesser quality.

If you've gotten to the point where you feel as though you've exhausted your search for an agent/publisher, it can't hurt to try something like Smashwords or Feedbooks. However, do some extensive self-editing first. The best way to convince people that you're worth reading is to produce something that's worth reading.

Even some of the more popular self-published works have had comments of, "It has the usual problem of self-published works with numerous typo's and poor editing." If the language is mistake-riddled, confusing, or anything else, it will affirm in most people's minds that it isn't worth checking out.

The best way to combat that is to try and make it as crisp and clean as possible.
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:02 PM   #7
cathyb1964
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I got my Kindle the first week of December 2009. I immediately went to the Amazon Kindle site in search of books. Because I was new to this I was pleasantly surprised to see books for free. That was my first reaction. My second reactions was "Can't be that good if they are free." But being the frugal fannie that I am, I clicked and bought all of them. Let me just tell you, not all were good BUT two of those 8 were fantastic and I have since Purchased additional books by those authors. Sure, there might be spelling or grammar mistakes but nothing that bothers me so much I put the book down. I have purchased full price books that were formatted horribly. As with anything else, there will always be mistakes.

I am now a big fan of and purchaser of Indie authors' works. I have read some fantastic pieces. And I am not alone. If you go to Amazon you will find the threads concerning indie authors. It is one of, if not the most popular thread over there. Many, many readers are now devoted to reading Indie authors.

With everything I have said, I personally would offer one of your books for free. If you have a series, offer the first book. If it's good, they will buy the others.

Good luck!

Cathy
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyb1964 View Post
I personally would offer one of your books for free. If you have a series, offer the first book. If it's good, they will buy the others.
I agree with this. I personally don't feel like just because something is free it's going to be poor quality, at least not with books. Same thing, just because something is expensive, that doesn't mean it's good. If I like one book by an author, I'll buy them all, assuming they are reasonably priced. I think offering only one book free is a good idea. I also think it would be a good idea for many indie/unpublished authors to make friends with an English student who is willing to proofread their work for free.

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Old 02-23-2010, 08:05 PM   #9
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It won't be enough to just set it for free, as there are lots of those on smashwords and other sites, but if you promote it, you'll get somewhere. If you lure me in with a free ebook I think I might like, and I enjoy it, I'll go buy another one. Sometimes I'm actually sad when an author has only one book available and it's free. I'm not big on the tip jar thing myself, I prefer to make "bulk" purchases.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:48 PM   #10
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I don't see the point of "building readership" on free books unless you have other books to sell. Unless you just want readers, then that's cool. But it's certainly not a way to work toward a career. And, now more than ever, you can set realistic goals to have a career without getting the NY lottery ticket punched.

I'm publishing with a collective of skilled writers and I have the highest standards for my work, formatting, and presentation (and I have published six novels in NY so I know what those are). The successful indies will aim higher and for better quality than mainstream publishers, no matter their reason for going indie. And I can tell you it's not always because they got rejected by agents. I know several writers who never set out with that goal--they set out to build their own audience, own all their rights, and directly benefit from the fruits of their labor instead of giving up control of their work and receive 8 to 15 percent in return. They know what they are worth. That's a goal I'm working toward...starting to gather some evidence to make some comparisons. While I respect anyone equating $1.99 or $2.99 with "subpar," those are the prices that many indie writers find are fair in order to get a shot. And, those authors are making more per copy than many "big league" writers.

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Nicholson View Post
The successful indies will aim higher and for better quality than mainstream publishers, no matter their reason for going indie. And I can tell you it's not always because they got rejected by agents. I know several writers who never set out with that goal--they set out to build their own audience, own all their rights, and directly benefit from the fruits of their labor instead of giving up control of their work and receive 8 to 15 percent in return.
These are some of the reasons why I decided to become an indie author. I also have high standards for my work and strive to create the best experience for the reader as I can.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:27 AM   #12
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I've offered my first ebook free on Smashwords and Feedbooks. I can't give you any data on how this has affected sales of other ebooks, because I don't have any others out yet. I've had a number of 'I'd read more from this author' and 'I'd pay for future ebooks' comments, but whether they translate into actual sales remains to be seen.

Here's something I found interesting... my ebook's received a lot of attention on the B&N website because I spruiked it to a forum of nook-owners just after the nook was released (sheer lucky timing, and plumboz's tip-off). Once it hit a certain number of downloads, the type of attention (positive or negative) didn't seem to matter - it was on the front page of the free ebooks section, people downloaded it regardless. Possibly without reading any reviews There are a couple of points here - a) a free ebook can help get your work in front of a lot of readers if it's placed correctly and b) free ebook 'sales' won't necessarily be crippled by the dreaded negative review.

As far as 'building readership' with a free ebook - it works on me. Well, it will work once I have an ebook reader. Atm, reading from an LCD screen is hard work :-/ But if I read a free ebook and like it, I do file the author's name away in my mental 'writers whose books I'll buy' list
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilmarr View Post
Classics, promo, ARCs and special gifts apart, I would never so much as glance at a free or $1.99 book. Their quality I have found in the past is similar to that found by the dozen in my daily and dreary slushpile of sub-standard submissions. Certainly, I will only risk my precious recreational time on something with a price tag that suggests serious editorial input and professional publishing. Sure, that's no guarantee of of a great read, but at least it lowers the odds against tripe. Sorry to sound so grumpy. Neil
This is so unfair... I have read many free/cheap books from self-published authors, which were beautifully formatted and edited to a point, where you could find no errors...

Your post is offensive to me, and I don't even write books.

P.S. In answer to the OP's question, I think a lot of people would read your book if you offered if for free - if it's in their preferable genre.

Last edited by lene1949; 02-24-2010 at 03:17 AM. Reason: Adding PS
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lene1949 View Post
This is so unfair... I have read many free/cheap books from self-published authors, which were beautifully formatted and edited to a point, where you could find no errors...

Your post is offensive to me, and I don't even write books.
But it is a fairly common viewpoint, and one that writers need to think about when considering the pricing and marketing of their books.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:16 AM   #15
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I was wondering has anyone tried a "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" model with ebooks?

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