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View Full Version : Why offer the ENTIRE book for free???



patskywriter
June 18th, 2013, 04:42 PM
This past Sunday I interviewed a jazz musician / record label owner on my weekly livestreaming show. I told him that I had first noticed his music on amazon.com in the "Free" section where you can download single mp3s. One of his songs was available there, as well as single songs by a few of the musicians on his label. I was intrigued and sought him out for the interview and to learn more about his and his label mates' music.

Both of us wondered why writers put up their entire books for free instead of just a couple of chapters. How can you tease prospective buyers when you're handing over the entire book?

Back in the 1990s, I was a freelance proofreader for Encyclopaedia Britannica and was assigned to help out with the reprinting/repackaging of the classic novel series. The coordinator for the freelance proofers would split up the assignments into 10-hour chunks and I was assigned part of George Eliot's Victorian-era novel "Middlemarch." I wasn't happy with this particular job because I always hated that era. Well, Middlemarch had me on the edge of my seat. When my part of the book ended, I was distraught and had to run to the library, check it out, and see how it ended. So I dunno—sometimes I think a good tease is a lot more effective than just blithely serving up the whole thing on a platter. Does this make sense or am I being unfair?

Terry D
June 18th, 2013, 05:01 PM
Some authors do offer just excerpts of their novels for free. More typically it is the entire book offered for free for a limited time to generate 'buzz' about the book. I just had a free weekend (sorta like HBO!) for my first book. I'm hoping those 65 downloads generate some interest in my name, and lead to increased sales for my new book. I've read discussion both ways about the tool. Some authors have seen a spike in purchases following a giveaway, others regret the lost income. For my money--$22 in lost potential if everyone who downloaded the book would have purchased it @.99--it was worth getting my name out to a wider audience. At the minimum it has already generated one more review for the book.

movieman
June 18th, 2013, 07:15 PM
Both of us wondered why writers put up their entire books for free instead of just a couple of chapters. How can you tease prospective buyers when you're handing over the entire book?

Amazon give you a choice: a 10%-ish sample free or the whole book. Some other sites like Smashwords let you specify the amount people can read.

jayelle_cochran
June 19th, 2013, 06:53 PM
There are a number of reasons why putting a book out for free is a sound marketing strategy.

Word of mouth is definitely the best way for a book to be promoted. If what you write is enjoyable to read then chances are that someone who reads your book and loves it will pass your name onto a friend, family member, or co-worker. The more people who find your work, the more likely that your name and titles will be passed onto others.

You also need to take into account how many people browse the free section of kindle and other online retailers to find new authors. My husband just bought a nook because he was going to be gone for a month (training) with nothing to do in his spare time. Not wanting to carry tons of books with him, nor having the room to do so, made this a sound investment. The first thing he did was download a ton of free books. Some he said were horrible, and others led him to possible authors to buy later on because he liked what he read already. This convinced me more than anything to put one of my novels up for free when they're ready. I saw with my own eyes what putting a free book out can do.

Yes, you can put a portion of your book out for free on kindle and smashwords. I believe kindle allows you to put out 10% and smashwords allows for you to change that amount so it's higher if you want. This does give the cliffhanger effect. However, the issue remains on how your potential readers will find your book. If it's free then they can be found more easily which will put it into the hands of more readers. If not, then you have just as good a chance of having your book found and read as if you didn't put any of it out for free at all.

In my mind, while you will lose sales on the downloads of your free book, the amount of sales that free book can generate for other books is worth far more. As a result you may find you generate more sales with one free book than if all of your books were put out at full price, even with a portion offered for free as a teaser.

Now, obviously, if you only plan on producing one book and not writing any others...then you won't want to put it out for free. But, if you, like most authors, plan on writing many more books then having one for free makes sense. This is especially so for a series where the first is free and readers have to pay the full price for the rest of the series. However, the system works for stand alone novels as well.

*hugs*
Jayelle

PS...please keep in mind that this is based off of research that I've done while planning a marketing strategy for my novels. My first novel is in the revising stage and so I don't have actual experience to draw upon. That said, this reply is based on what has worked for other self-published authors who are doing well.

BreakingMyself
July 20th, 2013, 03:50 PM
I have read multiple free e-books, then subsequently bought the physical copy or the sequels if they had written one.

So from that $0.99 initial loss, they may make $10+ in sales. It only takes a handful of people to read your free copy and then do as I had to make your money back, if not more. Combine that with the fact your book is in more hands, it's a great way to start up from nothing and spread your name.

Also remember people may also go out of their way to read your book for free, if they're not willing to pay. At least with the option to legitimately get your book for free, it adds to your sales rank and not the pirates.

bookmasta
July 20th, 2013, 07:34 PM
I not a great author, I'm far from it but I offer all my work free. I mean I'm not going to make a lot of money off it so what's the point? My main goal is to get my book out there for people to read and enjoy. In my Guardian series, I have had 250 copies downloaded. While some people don't like the book, the general consensus is that they like it. Of course I always find it interesting to find people's feedback on the books and what they want tweaked or changed. In the end I think that's why I do it for the fact people like it and the feedback helps me to improve in the art from that is writing.

ToBeInspired
July 23rd, 2013, 08:32 PM
Another point, yet to be mentioned, is that a book can be the beginning of a series. If you promote the first book of the series as free it will have access to a larger audience. As such people may be more willing to pay to continue a series they have grown interested in. You waggle the worm to have the fish bite the bait.

jayelle_cochran
July 24th, 2013, 06:15 PM
ToBeInspired, I said that actually just not in as many sentences. :) I am in the process of editing a novel that will be the first in the series. After the third book in the series is written then this one will be up for free. My reasons are exactly what you stated. (This book will also be out for free for the first month as a promotion too).

*hugs*
Jayelle

krishan
July 28th, 2013, 08:22 PM
Some advice that I saw repeated many times on the Kindle boards was for authors to write a lot of books, and to give away at least one of them for free. People would download the free book and, if they enjoyed it, seek out other books by the author. It's a way to get noticed in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

shadowwalker
July 28th, 2013, 10:36 PM
Some advice that I saw repeated many times on the Kindle boards was for authors to write a lot of books, and to give away at least one of them for free. People would download the free book and, if they enjoyed it, seek out other books by the author. It's a way to get noticed in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

While I see the logic of "write a lot of books", I do get a bit uneasy about it. It's almost like they're viewing writing a book like a production line. I know a lot of writers can put out a quality book very quickly, but still... I just get this feeling that a lot of other writers are pushing out books (that really need a little more time) simply because it's a marketing strategy.

jayelle_cochran
July 30th, 2013, 03:56 PM
While I see the logic of "write a lot of books", I do get a bit uneasy about it. It's almost like they're viewing writing a book like a production line. I know a lot of writers can put out a quality book very quickly, but still... I just get this feeling that a lot of other writers are pushing out books (that really need a little more time) simply because it's a marketing strategy.

I think what a lot of people need to remember is that writing one single great book won't get you noticed, but neither will writing ten crappy ones. The idea, for me at least, is to simply continue writing. Write as much as you reasonably can, put it out there, all while still keeping a level of quality that readers expect.

I saw someone write in a comment on a blog that for a new author to get the amount of readers they want in a timely manner, that they should put out a new book every 4 months. Now, I don't know about you but it's impossible for anyone, especially someone who is new to writing and publishing, to put out a book with any level of quality in 4 months. I know I personally can write a book in that time, but there is no way it would ever be ready for print. It would still be in the rough draft!

Bottom line, free or not it's all about marketing strategies. However, marketing should never be placed so high that the quality of the book suffers. Because, in the end, the quality is what's going to bring the readers to you. Not how quickly you can turn one out. Don't rush, it's not worth it.

*hugs*
Jayelle

movieman
July 30th, 2013, 07:36 PM
I saw someone write in a comment on a blog that for a new author to get the amount of readers they want in a timely manner, that they should put out a new book every 4 months. Now, I don't know about you but it's impossible for anyone, especially someone who is new to writing and publishing, to put out a book with any level of quality in 4 months. I know I personally can write a book in that time, but there is no way it would ever be ready for print. It would still be in the rough draft!

If I remember correctly, Iain Banks said in an interview a few years ago that he typically spent about three months writing a novel, then relaxed for the rest of the year. He did OK.

Michael Moorcock wrote some of his most popular and lasting novels in a week or two. He's done OK, though probably suffered from that reputation as he's tried to become a more serious writer in later life.

Asimov, I believe, wrote about five hundred books in his career, though that counts non-fiction as well as fiction.

Tens of thousands of people have written first drafts in a month for NaNoWriMo, usually while holding down day jobs. Most are bad, but that's because most don't know what they're doing, not because they put the words down quickly. If their day job was writing and they'd put in the time to learn to write competently, they could be putting out a novel every month, let alone every four months.


Because, in the end, the quality is what's going to bring the readers to you. Not how quickly you can turn one out. Don't rush, it's not worth it.

So long as the writing is competent, the story and voice is what brings readers to you. Once readers like a writer, they generally want more books from that writer as quickly as possible. When Iain Banks was first published, for example, I would certainly have read four of his books in a year.

shadowwalker
July 30th, 2013, 07:57 PM
But we're talking about self-publishing in this case, so "just" writing the book is not the only issue. There's the publishing side to deal with as well, which should not be rushed either (especially the editing).

movieman
July 30th, 2013, 08:01 PM
But we're talking about self-publishing in this case, so "just" writing the book is not the only issue. There's the publishing side to deal with as well, which should not be rushed either (especially the editing).

But if you're releasing four competent books a year (let alone twelve) in a genre that sells decently, you can probably afford to pay someone else to do the editing.