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message 1: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments This might be of interest to some - I am running a couple of articles about the merits (or not) of free books. I have interviewed some authors and readers whose views vary and it is a really interesting article. The first, linked here is from the readers' perspective.
http://mythicscribes.com/marketing/th...


message 2: by Jim (last edited Dec 16, 2013 08:39AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic So far, promotional copies of my book have been provided only for giveaway contests organized and supported by well-known established websites that have consistently attracted enthusiastic participation in the past.

The wisest course of action would be to allow the marketing representative and publicist, assigned by the publisher to promote your book, to respond to requests for free copies of your book.


message 3: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments That assumes you aren't self published.


message 4: by Jim (last edited Dec 16, 2013 11:49AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic A.L. wrote: "That assumes you aren't self published."

I will have to cede to your expertise in a subject of which I must confess I know next to nothing.
What little knowledge I possess of mainline publishing I learned from the those assigned to guide and assist me throughout the process.
Some of my best ideas come from others.

In my defense, I presumed from the discussion title that the pros and cons being sought regarding free books pertained to all forms of publishing.
Like most presumptions, it may have been wrong.


message 5: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments Most of the authors I asked were small press of SPAs so I don't think having a press/publicist applied in that case. You are correct though, it depends on the form of publishing.


message 6: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments Here is the second part of the post - authors.
http://mythicscribes.com/marketing/gr...


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan (mysterywriter) | 15 comments What an interesting debate!

Although I don't offer my entire book for free, I do have the first few chapters online at my website for free.

I'd be curious to hear how others feel about offering free excerpts of their work. From my PR team's perspective, it's about the same as Amazon's Look Inside feature.


message 8: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments Thanks. I was interesting to write about such a contentious issue. Samples are great for that - getting a taster for the book


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic If an author has a blog, an alternative to participating in free-book promotions might be to dedicate the occasional post exclusively to exerpts from a specific chapter of his/her latest book; thereby creating interest and potential purchases.


message 10: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Byrne (katarina66) | 44 comments I have to confess that I have stopped downloading free books. There may be good ones out there, I'm sure there are, I just haven't come across any. Most SP books (not just freebies)that I have downloaded, I have given up on because of poor editing and proof reading. There are gems hidden among the dross and there are sites which weed them out. But I must say,as a reader, I am much more selective those days.
However, as a writer, I do put my selection of shorts out for free from time to time.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan (mysterywriter) | 15 comments Jim wrote: "If an author has a blog, an alternative to participating in free-book promotions might be to dedicate the occasional post exclusively to exerpts from a specific chapter of his/her latest book; ther..."

Jim, is this something you do? My works-in-progress change a great deal in the creation/revision process, but I can certainly see that other writers might find it advantageous to create a blog post highlighting forthcoming work.


message 12: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Ryan (goodreadscomchrisryanwrites) | 17 comments I have done a few free promotions. First, the first three chapters of my novel are available on my website. However, that alone does not drive droves of readers there. I link my twitter and blog to the website, and that has helped a bit. I also offered free short stories featuring my detective protagonists on the website. That created an interesting development. A couple of reviewers mentioned they would be interested in reading more about how my detectives earned their reputation for solving weird cases. As I already had three short stories offering that, I got to thinking... And wrote six more. In October I published a slim volume of short stories that serve as a prequel, and this I am using for promotion. Between promotions, it is for sale at a price lower than my novel. During the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, I gave it away free on Amazon Kindle as a way to say thanks to people who read my novel and those willing to give my work a try. It was wonderfully successful (almost 200 sold - not record breaking, but a nice number for three days in an unknown writer's career, lol). I have two more free days through the kindle exclusive, so this will happen again very soon.
I also plan to use this collection as a giveaway as often as possible. It includes the first few chapters of my novel at the end, so that might help generate sales in an honest, fair way.
I hope this helps at least a bit.


message 13: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Byrne (katarina66) | 44 comments Gone with the Tide and other stories
My shorts are actually free today. I also add the first chapters of my two novels at the end. I don't know what really works in generating book sales, all we can do is our best.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Susan wrote: "Jim wrote: "If an author has a blog, an alternative to participating in free-book promotions might be to dedicate the occasional post exclusively to exerpts from a specific chapter of his/her lates..."

Susan,

I do write a blog.
It is actually an account of my experiences in writing and the publishing process and also includes mistakes made, lessons learned, and satisfaction realized along the way.

If curious, whenever you have absolutely nothing better to do, feel free to check it out.

My blog may be accessed via my Goodreads profile.

Jim


message 15: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Ryan (goodreadscomchrisryanwrites) | 17 comments Catherine wrote: "Gone with the Tide and other stories
My shorts are actually free today. I also add the first chapters of my two novels at the end. I don't know what really works in generating boo..."


I agree. I do research, choose what 1) makes the most sense and 2) feels authentic to me, and then try that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is just a really good experience, and other times I am left dazed and wondering what the number if that truck was...


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to agree with Catherine. I stopped downloading free books, unless their was an exceptional reason to do so. There are so many books available, and I got tired of starting books with poor writing and editing. That being said, I have finished reading a few series that I started as a result of a free Kindle book.


message 17: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments I've got stories in two free anthologies, which are both doing fairly well in terms of downloads. Whether they are being read is another matter!

Perhaps it depends on genre - anthologies or short storied may work better free than longer books.

As a reader I do still download freebies, but not as often as I used to. This is mainly because I have so many books to read.


message 18: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments A couple of questions then to readers who have downloaded free and been disappointed - do you think the ratio of substandard books is higher in the those which are free? Do you notice more because they are free and you may go in with the assumption they might not be so good?


message 19: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) A.L. wrote: "A couple of questions then to readers who have downloaded free and been disappointed - do you think the ratio of substandard books is higher in the those which are free? Do you notice more because ..."

My experience is that free downloads are more likely to be disappointing, but I have run into a few gems. And to be fair, David Weber is one of my favorite authors, but he has written some atrocious books.

Now speaking as an SPA author, I have one free book and seven not free books. The free book has been downloaded over 180,000 times, and the reviews are generally favorable. But to be honest, the first edition had a lot of errors. The nice thing about digital publishing is that you can easily correct those errors in future editions. The free book has definitely helped me sell other books.

My advice to SPA authors is to have one free book. At the end of that book, add a chapter from a paid book, add your email address, and then list your other books. The manuscript that is uploaded to Amazon should include the links to those books.

Here are the US and UK links to my free book, so you can see the reviews and judge for yourself.

http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-the-F...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001V9KG4E


message 20: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments Thanks. Oddly I was told by Amazon that you aren't allowed links to other products, even Amazon ones as that is what your author page is for. Seems a bit silly to me.


message 21: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Hayes | 6 comments I wonder, am I the only author who does not think it's okay for writers to give away work for free? In what other industry does a person with a particular talent, use that talent to produce a quality product then give it away without payment? I think the practice of giving free books undermines the value of the author's work and time. Amazon made one of my books free for a limited time, but they didn't ask me and I wasn't pleased about it. It made no difference to my sales. I think we authors are worth more than that. We already give our blogs for free (most of us). I think everyone should always be paid for every piece of work they do.


message 22: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 189 comments Arlene, no you aren't the only one as the authors in the article say. At the end of the day it is up to individual authors to make the decision whether they want to offer their work for fre. It works for some, not all; it is the right decision for som, not all.


message 23: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) Arlene wrote: "I wonder, am I the only author who does not think it's okay for writers to give away work for free? In what other industry does a person with a particular talent, use that talent to produce a quali..."

I understand why you feel that way. Look at your work from the viewpoint of you, as a merchant, selling a product. Costco gives away food, in the expectation that people will purchase more food. That merchandising technique is successful. Certainly you should not give away everything. But if your intention is to produce a body of work, rather than one piece, it is not a bad idea to have one piece available for free.


message 24: by Mishka (new)

Mishka Jenkins (mishkajenkins) | 2 comments This was a great topic to read, I know it has been discussed a lot in general.

I haven't self-published yet, but this topic has been great for seeing all sides of this. I have only ever downloaded a couple of free books myself, and I totally understand why people who write series would offer the first one for free.

I do try now to only buy e-books, only because I want to offer support to self-published authors :)


message 25: by Jim (last edited Feb 24, 2014 05:05PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic I personally possess minimal experience in promotional strategy; however, this bit of information may help someone who is still undecided as to whether or not to give away their work for free.

The marketing representative and publicist assigned by my publisher to promote my one and only novel during the past 2 1/2 years have only provided promotional copies of the paperback format once during all that time to be given away and never for either the e-book or audio book formats.

The publisher sent me 10 promotional copies for a Goodreads Giveaway Contest this past December with instructions to personalize and sign each copy, and then mail them after being provided with the list of winners from the Goodreads staff.

I was reimbursed for the cost of the envelopes and postage after mailing the receipt from the post office to my publisher.

This is the one and only time I was advised to provide free copies. I hope this example proves helpful to someone in making a decision for their particular situation. Since each situation is different and, therefore, unique, I am sure that whatever decision you make, it will be the right decision for you. I wish you success.


message 26: by Anna (new)

Anna | 1 comments I currently intern at does provide free copies to reviewers and as promotional giveaways.

The whole point of giving your book out for free is so that more people will know about it, and if they like it, they are more likely to talk about it, thus generating more readership.

The real problem is with reviews. People do not like buying products that have no reviews or very few reviews. However, with giveaway copies, especially if, beforehand, you bargain the copy in return for a review, you will slowly but steadily gain more readers. Of course, the problem is the pay off, whether the money made from this way of marketing will actually pay off in the end.

It's funny because I've come across people who have said that the best way to get more readers is to have your ebook pirated, a.k.a you actually LET people steal it. So on paper, your ebook is not free, but with a few google searches it probably wouldn't be hard to find the illegal free version.

Now there are some merits and some very obvious demerits to this scheme. For one, it's hard to say if it actually will help out in the long run. For new authors and especially self-published or independently published authors who lack the money and reputation of the big pub houses, they first need to get their book into the general consciousness and vicinity of the public. I have known authors who spent half the year scrapping around the country going onto every radio show, book signing, promotional event they can get their hands on, but when I look at their review scores on goodreads, some have less than ten ratings.

They don't do too badly, but they definitely don't make enough for the effort they put in writing the book and then marketing the book. From what I can tell, a lot of the sales comes from getting the physical copies into bookstores. Quite recently, actually, we had a celebration for hitting the top 10k books on amazon, which goes to show... that it is hard gaining any sort of recognition, even with all the promotions in place.

So with a self-published author, I imagine it is even more difficult. Unless the author has connections (maybe a very popular blogger or a very unique angle in their marketing schemes), break out success is unlikely.

So back to the topic of free books. It's hard to say how much they help. Sometimes they might not help at all, and sometimes they might be just what your book needs to gain a fan following. However, if that's the only strategy in your marketing toolbox, you're not going to do very well.

You could, as an above poster has said, offer one free book and make the others paid. Or you could be evil like appstores and make the first book in a series free, but the others regular price.

If you sell physical copies, you could take the The Beatles route, who promoted their albums with other little goodies like stickers and stuff like that. In your physical copies, you could give the incentive of purchase by handing out some special LE item.

I read of one author who gave away a USB with the series' symbol with all the ebook versions from the series to the first one hundred people who pre-order the book.


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