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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Free ebooks

After very careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that the proliferation of free ebooks is killing the market for paid books. I have downloaded many free ebooks. Whenever an author has advertised their book for free on Facebook, or sent me an email about their free ebook I’ve downloaded it to show my support. I am now at the stage that I have over a year’s worth of reading on my Kindle. In other words I do not need to buy another book for quite some time. I know the idea of giving away your work for free is to promote your other books, but does it work? My wife and I have both tried the free ebook route and apart from one or two sales have seen no change. Perhaps everybody else also has loads of free books on their reading devices and will eventually get around to reading our books and then go onto buy our other tomes. I don´t however hold out much hope though. I truly believe that as long as there are free ebooks available very few people are going to put their hands in their pockets to pay for a book.

At the same time I also believe that authors are selling themselves short. I mean $0.99 for your book that took months to write, plus editing, plus producing a cover and everything else that is involved with putting your work out there. The book warrants a better price. You can buy a newspaper for not much more and dispose of that by the end of the day. A cup of coffee, significantly more than a $0.99 ebook is finished within 5 minutes. I know some advocate sell cheap and you will sell lots more, but some people will think, if it is that cheap it can´t be any good. I would think a price of 2/3 of your print book price would be fair, that’s of course if you have a print version. But then of course you come up against my previous argument, free ebooks. A dilemma that that needs thinking about.


Gary Val Tenuta said...

Couldn't agree more. I've posted a similar argument on a couple of Facebook groups. The problem, as I see it, is that the plethora of free or 99¢ ebooks has had the unintended consequence of creating an expectation in the minds of ebook buyers. Many of them now seem to think authors should just give away the work that they've spent many months (or even several years) creating. So, now, if I price my ebook at a very reasonable $3.99, there are people who perceive that price as outrageous. Hello? I spent 3 years crafting that book (ASH: Return Of The Beast http://www.ashreturnofthebeast.webs.com ). It's not like I'm asking an arm and a leg in return for many hours of enjoyment and entertainment.

echo said...

I see the dilemma for sure, and yet I've tried both my novels for free and had not been displeased. Face it though, no-one knew who I was, so even selling one more book is a big jump for me. I got a couple good review added on Amazon, and when I did each of the books for free, I sold some of the other book at the same time, more than I wold have without the promo. but yeah, it is less than zero pay for a lot of work. I'm not sure where it goes from here. Most of the actual money I make is from face to face at book signings at schools where people know me, or to local art and craft fair patrons.

Dixie Miller Goode

Clark said...

I agree, Terry. I just bought an e-book reading device a few days ago, and it's already loaded with enough free books to get me through the summer.

I tried a free promotion for two of my own books (one a large fantasy novel and the other a collection of short dreams), and the results were pretty disappointing. The novel had 200 downloads and then 3 sales once it ended. The dream book had 40 downloads and 1 sale afterwards.

Anthea Jane said...

I have thought about this too, but I feel there is no perfect way. You have to take some risks in life and underpricing/overpricing your book is just one of those mistakes that must be made in the process of trying to get people to buy your book. You will never get this perfect.

If everyone is going to go for the free books as you say, then how can 99 cents be underselling yourself?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the ridiculously low prices and free promos are really hurting us. There is just so much out there for free, that many readers do not see a need to pay at all. It becomes much harder to find those who will pay especially when we have to do our own marketing. Blogs like this which offer to do reviews are great but they are also swamped. That is why I am trying a new less expensive review service that I have read about: http://aliquantreview.com/

Doug Lamoreux said...

I haven't been able to talk myself into giving my work away. And your blog is making me feel okay with that choice. I'm just going to keep writing good books. Eventually, someone will notice.

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