There is a lot of debate about whether authors should give away books for free. “It devalues your work,” some people say.
With a plan, sharing work with readers can be a key part of how a new author builds their audience.
There are a few different ways I give books away for free, and why.
To get a book into the hands of a bunch of people at once, sometimes I run advertised specials on particular books – reduced to 99c or sometimes free. This gets the book known and more widely read. Hopefully it might pick up some more reviews (which are treasured). It will also then appear in “also boughts” for the books that have been bought by the readers – another key part of how readers discover books on amazon.
Lots of people fill their kindle with free books they never read, others devour them as fast as they can.
My Experience: I’m currently tracking what happens after 1,500 free downloads of The Queensberry Rule from a four day campaign in mid February.
I used a service at ebookbooster.com that registers free book campaigns with over 45 sites that do that kind of thing – this was just to save my time entering the details 45 times. I tried to get a paid feature at heavy hitter bookbub.com, but without success.
After the initial blast, sales tailed off. Three days rather that four might have given a good return.
Spillage is free permanently on all platforms. It is the first episode in a six-part series (Advanced Smash Repairs) so it makes sense to let readers sample the style of writing for free – if they like it, they might buy the rest of the series.
15 Civic Square is also free on most platforms, and this is an introduction to the Live-Fiction portfolio.
My Experience: Without any campaigning or publicity, Spillage has been downloaded about 10 times per day since it went free on all platforms in early February 2015. It will be interesting to see how these translate into sign-ups over time.
3. Sign Up
One way to keep in touch with readers is through emails, but it is not easy to build up your “list”. It goes without saying that it is pointless building a list of people who don’t want to hear about your new releases or what you’ve got to say generally. A little incentive, in my case a free exclusive ebook, encourages readers to take the plunge and subscribe. A link to do that is in every book and on the website.
In the back of Spillage, there’s a special offer of a free copy of the second book in the series, IMPACT if you sign up. Only readers who’ve got through Spillage and like it will take up that offer – which is good, because I want to hear more from them!
My Experience: Growth in my lists since getting all the ducks line up in January 2015 remains slow. We’ll see how it goes!
4. Thank You
Every now and again I put together a thank you for subscribers – an exclusive offer, a hot tip on another freebie, a special story. Being generous is part of having fun with the writing and publishing venture.
So that’s why some stuff is free. Check it out through the links above if you would like to try out my writing.