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News, advice and conversation about the Self-Publishing book industry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everyone Should Make Their Books Free

This is an article by Henry Baum, he is the editor of Self-Publishing Review.

I’m in the middle of an experiment with Amazon pricing.  Around 6 weeks ago I set my novel to free on Smashwords (instead of pay what you like), sort of hitting myself for not doing this sooner.  My plan was for the book to be distributed free to Barnes and Noble.  Amazon would then price match B&N and also make the book free.  This is what happened.  Last Thursday afternoon my book was made free and this is what my downloads look like since then:

For a couple days I was listed on the first page of Kindle bestsellers – during that period I was getting 250 downloads an hour.  Sure, I’m making nothing – but I can’t imagine there are a lot of writers who don’t like the idea of 250 downloads an hour.  Certainly, a lot of people are hoarding books and sampling a few pages – the way you’d do at a bookstore, where you sample books before settling on what to buy.  But even if, say, 500 of that 10,000+ actually read the book, this is how buzz starts.  Already there are dozens of new marked-to-reads on Goodreads, meaning that people aren’t just downloading the book for the hell of it.  And even if they don’t read it, the more mentions on Goodreads, the merrier.

So I really recommend this strategy: set your book to free on Smashwords, wait to see if Amazon drops the price, then after that period is over (Amazon is said to make books free for 1 week at a time) raise the price to whatever you like.  It’s basically the same premise as a Library Thing giveaway, except in thousands, rather than the hundreds.  The downside to this is once everyone starts doing it, it’ll be less fruitful – also it means readers will be less and less willing to actually pay for books.  I mean, really, if you own a Kindle there isn’t a great incentive to actually buy books given that you can select dozens of new free books every week.  That’s the trade-off.  Personally, I’m more interested in being read right now than making money – which can happen, if more people are reading you.  Right now it’s like being Amanda Hocking without the profit.

Anybody else have an experience with the freemium model?  Currently, another SPR-er is in the top listings (Face the Winter Naked) and it’s been there for longer than my own – I peaked at 19.  Still here though:

1 comment:

Collette said...

That is a very good idea. Sometimes it's good to just 'get your name out there', and I was planning to do just that for the month of August with my upcoming book Hannah's Blessing coming out August 1st. I'll give it a try and see what happens.

You also say that there are pitfalls, and again you're right! With the economy here in the States and elsewhere being so downtrodden, purchasing a book is almost a frivilous thing. Perhaps lowering prices (which I also plan to do) is the way to go.

I guess if we plan to go free, we should do it as a promotional thing. What do you think?