Monday, January 6, 2014

Cost of "Free" Ebooks?

You see it a lot anymore. Free ebooks. It's a marketing move. Some books are free as promos, and others are on perma free. But is that a good marketing strategy for everyone? And if it is, when?

There was an interesting article at Kristen Lamb's blog, entitled
R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn't FREE!
I think writers, especially self-published writers, get overly fascinated with marketing, and the allure of FREE! only makes this worse. I see far too many writers uploading that ONE manuscript and then spending every spare waking moment, promoting that one book to the point of being viewed as spam. They tweet with every imaginable hashtag, “Come get my book for FREE! FREE NOW! A book for FREE!” ….and after the 40th time we get this tweet, we are willing to pay the writer to stop tweeting. 
They remind me of gamblers chasing their losses. Because ONE DAY they had X number of downloads, they are back at the track trying to make that number appear again. If we run around handing our one and only manuscript for FREE! then what good does it gain us? I am sure there is some good that can come from it, but not the real game-changing benefit that I want all of you to enjoy.
You'll want to read the entire article because she raises some interesting points about when and how to make the most of FREE!

What about you? What's been experience, either as a reader or a writer?


  1. None of my books have ever been free.
    I can see it working for the first in a series, to get people hooked, but when the author has nothing else to offer (or very little) I don't think it's a smart move.

  2. I agree with Alex. I suppose it could be helpful to offer the first book as free when you're promoting the second book in the series.

    And I totally agree with the constant tweeting or constant blogging about your book to the same group loses its effectiveness.

  3. When you have just one, hell no. Doesn't help at all, but when you have 25 and put one for free, does help. I get sales on other ones when I do a free day here and there. Plus free gives you reviews too, which help whether they are good or bad. So there are a few benefits. But tweeting like crazy, umm no.

  4. All that 'free book' advertising becomes background noise for me and I wonder who ever bothers to get those books.

  5. Good thoughts here. Not everything that is FREE is worth having just because it's free. I'm more likely to download a $1.99 book than a free one.

  6. My best sales months were months I used free days on Amazon.

  7. It depends, sometimes free works and sometimes it doesn't. I think it's dangerous when a writer only depends on free promos alone.

  8. An author has to make their own mind up on this one, but for me, my books will never be free and the price they are now is the price they will always remain.

    I think authors just starting out on the indie route panic when they see other authors offering freebies. It's a completely understandable reaction.

    But what I've learnt is that good writing and a steady yearly release rate is the only way to build a readership.

    Writers need patience.

  9. I've only ever had one short story (normally priced at $0.99) set for free. I did get some good reviews from that.

    For the second book in my series I experimented with an omnibus edition (containing both the first and second books) at the same price as either book alone--but readers still had to buy the combined edition. Soon, I'll increase the price on that. Too soon to tell how well that's gone, but I like it better than the idea of setting the first book free. And it's easy to do with already formatted ebooks. :)

  10. I've blogged and thought about this a lot, listening to writers and publishers as well. I think in someways, we're looking at the effect, rather than the cause. In truth, we'll buy anything so long as we like the book or know the author or have heard of the topic before. I think those matter more than price points:)

  11. I have one novella that is perma-free. It gets lots of downloads but the second novella doesn't have any traction.

    There's a method to the free madness; I just haven't figured out the best way to use it.

  12. I have neither published nor 'purchased' free e-book, but I don't generally read e-books at this point. I believe I've seen some studies that indicate that people love a bargain--to a point. Things that are too cheap are often viewed with suspicion.

  13. I'll come back and read the article, BUT as a reader, when an author
    keeps pestering social media about their 'free' books, I start to feel as though they don't have any confidence in their writing and I begin to feel the same.

    On the other hand, a one to three day offering of a book for free or at say $.99 has peaked my interest a time or two.

  14. The first year or two I had my Kindle, I was getting free books all the time. Then I realized that most of them were sitting in my Kindle unread and only a few looked interesting enough to read right now. Also, only a few made me want to purchase the author's other books. I ignore most of the free spam.


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