free kindle ebooksGiving away the books you have written seems to defy logic. Why give away all your hard work for nothing? Well, welcome to the new world of Internet based publishing and book selling, where you can throw all you old logic straight out of the window.

Since day one of the Internet free has been the operative word. Everyone loves free stuff. It doesn’t matter what. Music, photos, videos, software or games. Software and app developers figured this out a long time ago and have almost perfected the art of hooking users in with free products, which then lead to sales further down the track. This same logic can be applied to books.

Unless you name happens to be Steven King or J.K Rowling, you are probably a writer in amongst the pack like the rest of us. All flapping around in an ocean of writers trying to garner the attention of readers. Without a huge packet of money to spend on promotion, the best way of doing this is to give your books away.

There are many opinions as how best to use free books but they all have the same purpose. To create attention and bring the author’s name under the noses of readers. The practice is now so common that this article points out that half the books on Kindle’s bestseller list are free books. The logic is simple. If you are not known, readers won’t buy your books.

Since the advent of the Kindle and other e-reading devices, books have joined the harsh reality of the world of the Internet. The old book selling logic just doesn’t work here.

Whether you choose to have one or two books available for free at all times, or select certain books at certain times to be free, such as with Kindle’s new KDP Select program, your books will be downloaded in considerable numbers. But don’t think with the logic of ‘Oh my dear, I’ve just given away 500 books and lost a bucket of money.’ The proportion of these downloads that actually get read is very low indeed. Some might read a little and not like it. Others may get to reading it one day. And others may well be those who just can’t resist anything for free and will never read it.

What you are seeking with free books are readers who like what you write and will return to buy more of your books. Or if you have only one book, those who will recommend your book to other people.

Readers habitually buy books by well known authors. In today’s publishing world, free book giveaways give you a better chance than there has ever been to achieve this. But it starts with getting known in the first place.

Free eBooks – Get Used To It
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15 thoughts on “Free eBooks – Get Used To It

  • 23/02/2012 at 4:18 pm
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    Derek,
    In a recently held ‘free give away’ weekend earlier this month, my science fiction space opera “Onet’s Tale” shifted more copies than it has to date under the normal pay for it circumstances. If just one of those greedy Gannets who took up the free offer bother to read it, I for one will be happy.

    In this day and age, sadly we all have to participate in the free give away system to be seen in the vast morass of books out there.

    :)

  • 23/02/2012 at 5:10 pm
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    I am not a writer, just a reader. I agree with you. I have to know that I am going to like a book before I will spend money on it. If I read a free book and like it, I am likely to buy other books by that author. And I will blog about it and Tweet about it. Oh, and if it has a good description, it goes up higher on my to-read list.

  • 23/02/2012 at 9:18 pm
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    I’ve seen a few people who say, “I don’t get why you would give away ebooks just like that!” But really, most of those people who download your free book probably weren’t going t pay for it anyways, and it’s a great way to get exposure.

    • 23/02/2012 at 9:50 pm
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      I think the key is just that KT. Exposure.

      I’m a firm believer that people buy the product of an author as opposed to buying a book on a standalone basis. So any exposure, even free ebooks, can serve this end.

  • 23/02/2012 at 9:37 pm
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    I am a writer, and I have no intention of giving my books away for free. Cheap, yes, but not free. Those who look for freebies – look for freebies, that is what they do.

    I don’t subscribe to the ‘it will give you good exposure’ line. I allow a 20% free sample, and that is enough to see if my hard work is worth paying the paltry amount I ask for.

    As it happens, my books are selling very well.

    Don’t undervalue your work, these people wouldn’t work for nothing, so why should you?

    Alice

    • 23/02/2012 at 9:45 pm
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      Thanks for your comments Alice.

      The funny thing is that up until a couple of months ago I shared your sentiments entirely. But then I experimented to see what would happen.

      While I don’t disagree with you at all, all I can say is that my real sales have doubled since I started a planned and carefully monitored free book program on Kindle. Not only that, but I have at the same time increased my book prices.

      There’s something working. I’ll give it a couple more months and monitor it carefully, but for the moment I can only say that the signs are positive.

  • 23/02/2012 at 10:04 pm
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    I am a firm believer in free ebooks for promotional purposes. I find that it has a better result than any amount of tweets or any other form of promotion. I have seen it working well for other authors, and it has worked for me.
    When I published the first book of my trilogy in October, I allowed it to go free for a couple of months while I finished the second one. I had thousands of downloads on Smashwords, B & N and Sony.
    But when I published the second book, I put a price on the first one again. The funny thing is, the first one is still selling steadily, even though it was free for so long, and of course leads to sales for the second one.
    My point is that on Amazon, where I couldn’t offer a free ebook, sales are far from spectacular, in fact, I would call it terrible. I believe that offering a free sample of my work is a key factor in breaking into the Amazon market.
    So to enable me to offer a free ebook, I have enrolled a novella in the KDP Select program, to take advantage of the five free days they offer. I don’t believe that five days are enough in a 90 day period, but I’ll take what I can get.
    As I said before, Derek, I’ll let you know how it goes, and compare it to your experiment.

  • 23/02/2012 at 10:47 pm
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    Nikki, maybe your first book would have sold anyway.
    Also, a second book in a trilogy is a dead cert if the reader has enjoyed book one.
    I agree about poor sales on Amazon, my sales on Smashwords outstrip Amazon by a mile.
    All the best
    Alice

  • 25/02/2012 at 8:22 pm
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    When it was only a few people doing it, it may have meant something, but with everyone doing it and most people downloading doing nothing more than picking up free stuff for the sake of it and the chance of them actually reading it is slim, then it becomes meaningless. I have lots of friends who are writers who’ve taken advantage of the KSP and who complain that they’ve given away hundreds or even thousands and it hasn’t resulted in a single review. Let’s face it, people who are looking for freebies aren’t quite the same as serious readers willing to plunk out hard-earned money to buy a book, and are thus invested in it. You don’t value something that you get for nothing.

    • 25/02/2012 at 10:49 pm
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      I think you are exactly right Elizabeth. What we have with free books is a degradation of our value as writers.

      I have a friend, and avid reader, who told me excitedly that she would never have to buy a book again. She purchased a Kindle with the specific intention of getting hold of free books. She saw it as a worthwhile investment. When I last spoke to her recently, she had downloaded 50 free books, so, she said happily, the Kindle has more than paid for itself.

      I believe that she may be typical of perfectly normal people that are feasting on this bonanza.

      So, what drives writers to spend months producing a book, and then value it at nothing? It may just be the tempting headlines: ‘Unknown Writer Thrust Into the Limelight Because of Free Book’. Isn’t it just possible that this is what these are – headlines of a rare occurrence?

      As your friends have found out, their free books haven’t even attracted a single review.

      We should know as writers, more than anyone, that headlines and sensation sell. Newspapers are famous for it. But, free books sell a dream, a possibility of fame and fortune; maybe it will be me, to writers that are often desperate to get a break in an industry that is very tough. But, for every jackpot winner, there are thousands that are paying the price.

      We have worked hard to produce something that should be worth something to the reading public….surely!

      • 26/02/2012 at 9:01 pm
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        I agree with most of what you say Alice, as I do with Elizabeths comments as well.

        The only point I’d like to add is that before ebooks came along, publishers sent out 1,000s of free copies to Advance Readers. This was the means of getting reviews and buzz before a book was released. Or even after it was released. So it’s not a lot different now.

        There are millions of Kindle owners now, so giving away a few hundred copies needs to be kept in perspective. As an author or small press publisher, you just have to create some buzz in the market. So it’s no different to the tried and true model. Free books have always been a part of book marketing in all publishing sectors. As a teacher I still get free text books from publishers all the time.

        As far as reviews go, I don’t get too excited. When they come along, ok, but I much prefer just a small tweet from a reader saying they enjoyed my book.

        Just as a footnote. I’m using targeted free book days on Kindle with a reasonable amount promotion. Result? My sales have doubled each week for the last four weeks. Yes,that’s real sales.

  • 29/02/2012 at 3:21 pm
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    My first novel, “The October Abduction of Thomas Martin: Bloodline” is free from March 1-5 and I’m thrilled to be able to give it away! I know that the writing is good enough to move readers to buy the next in the series. I’ve been a writer for 30+ years, 23 as a journalist, the rest as a freelancer. I make a living writing marketing and advertising copy and I know give aways work. If you had to get your ads into the hands of potential customers you’d be PAYING .67 to $4 per direct mail piece to print, mail and collect data. Give aways are AWESOME! We’re the ones making the money!!

  • 01/03/2012 at 12:44 am
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    I scheduled a free promotion for my novelette over the next five days on Kindle Select. I’m in the experimental stage of marketing, so I took the view that it’s only five days. What could it hurt if I do gain exposure? If I don’t, what have I lost? I’ve only sold ten copies in the two weeks since the book has been published anyway. I believe if someone likes your writing, they will pay for it at some point. I base this on the fact that I have downloaded free books and returned later to purchase more by the same author. At this time, I’m just looking to get my name out there and build the trust of the readers.

  • 02/03/2012 at 11:36 pm
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    “Stephen” King, not “Steven” Come on, man.

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