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Archived Author Help > Free short fiction as a taster

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message 1: by Phil (new)

Phil Monks (phil_monks) | 9 comments Hey all - I'm looking for some advice, I hope this is the right place to post this (I'm new to the group).

I'm a would-be author, in that I'm in the process of writing a book that I will be indie publishing in about a year or so. I have been writing a long time though, and have a range of short stories and even an old trunk fantasy novel that I will be rolling in glitter at some point in the future.

At the moment, I'm looking to build an online presence in advance of the publication of my book (website, twitter, etc.). I was wondering if people have experience of offering short stories, flash fiction, stuff like that for free as a way to raise awareness and interest prior to releasing the "real thing".

Does anyone have any advice in this regard? I'm guessing that Amazon aren't going to be much help, since they won't allow it to be perma-free (please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm still in the research stage on all this!)

I'm more than happy to format the existing work and release it in epub format, which I suppose I can make available to download on my website.

I guess I'm asking two things:

1) Have any of you had success doing this kind of thing?
2) What would you recommend as the best way to optimise this in terms of building a following? Just publish it on the site, or make it available as an ebook?

Thanks everyone :)

message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Peacock-Smith | 6 comments Hey, I'm pretty new too. First off, well done for getting in so early!!!! That's the best strategy!!! Secondly, starting a blog and all the social media platforms now is the best place to start. Wordpress is free and great and are so big that you get the odd person reading from the first post. You need to then follow through and write lots but building a following through that is a great foundation

message 3: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Chapman | 147 comments You can make your books perma-free on Amazon by publishing them for free with other retailers and getting Amazon to price-match- there's quite a lot of advice around on precisely how to do this :)

I have two short stories available free (and two novels which aren't free). I don't think I get a huge amount of sales of the novels due to the short stories, but I have definitely had some- occasionally people have said in their reviews of the short story that they will go on to buy the full length novel, which is really nice.

I think it is a good idea to get your short stories out there- you could have links to your social media and/or encourage people to sign up to your mailing list at the end of the story. A good place to promote your free stories is to post them on the free ebooks section on reddit ( It's free to do and I've always found that it gets my book a reasonable amount of downloads.

Good luck :)

message 4: by Phil (new)

Phil Monks (phil_monks) | 9 comments Thanks, both of you. I hadn't even thought of reddit! Will also check out WordPress and the price matching advice.

message 5: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4284 comments Mod
My advice is DON'T make too much for free too often. Once in a while is good to bring in attention, but I have found that if you only offer certain shorts for free every once in a while, you will get sales on the rest of your work.

message 6: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments Dwayne,
what if you write short stories on sites like Wattpad and Channillo?

message 7: by Aislinn (new)

Aislinn | 150 comments I've had some good results offering a short story for free on instafreebie in return for newsletter subscribers. Something to consider.

message 8: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments Wattpad is good for posting, but also kind of hard to get noticed on there because of how many others are posting.

message 9: by Ken (last edited Jan 30, 2017 06:49AM) (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments Phil wrote: "Hey all - I'm looking for some advice, I hope this is the right place to post this (I'm new to the group).

I'm a would-be author, in that I'm in the process of writing a book that I will be indie ..."

I have a couple of free short stories that tie in to my full-length books. The conversion rates are pretty low (the percentage of freebie downloads compared to sales of related paid books), so don't expect a whole lot. As others have said, the market is flooded with freebies, and most of them never get read.

message 10: by Mellissa (new)

Mellissa | 48 comments I plan on revising some past stories, and offering them for free on Smashwords. They don't connect to my current work, but I need to offer free things as part of my publishing success. I want to use Instafreebie for something, but haven't figured out what.

message 11: by Jax (new)

Jax Burrows (jaxburrows) | 3 comments Hi, I'm new as well and am interested in all the comments. I published my debut novel on Amazon a few weeks ago and have just got a website set up. I realise now that I have done everything the wrong way around unlike Phil who is doing everything in the correct order. I have included a free short story for Valentine's Day on my website and will be interested to see if this attracts any attention. I'm learning as I go along, mainly from my mistakes. I still think the best marketing strategy is to get as many good quality titles as possible on Amazon. Grateful for your opinions on that.

message 12: by Mellissa (new)

Mellissa | 48 comments Smashwords also as it's blind-friendly. Putting free stories is a good idea also, so long as the person can download it or have that option.

message 13: by Cameron (new)

Cameron Smith (cameronwaynesmith) Gaining readers early on is much more important than trying to make everyone who enjoys your stories give you cash. But like Dwayne said, don't give away too much. I did a few giveaways with a book, and when trying to hype people up for the next one on social media, people were asking for handouts. I put my foot down and pretty much said no free copies (other than advance readers and some physical copies for Christmas gifts).
I am intending to release my next story as a serial through Wattpad to try something different. So that will be free, and may gain some new readers, however I'm unsure if they are the kind that like to buy, or just read free. Afterwards I can always pop it on other providers for free. I've also heard of people putting Wattpad stories up for sale a few weeks before the series is complete to pull in impatient people.

message 14: by Phil (new)

Phil Monks (phil_monks) | 9 comments Some good advice in this thread!

Of those who recommend only letting short stories go for free some of the time... this is interesting, and I hadn't really thought about the tactical aspect of this before. I guess as Cameron says, if people get used to the idea of not paying for your stuff, it's difficult to change that perspective later on.

message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments Hellooo, Phil! Nice to meet ya!!

I always have and always will offer something free for my readers. In fact, my first book (which was never intended to be a book) was serialized for free online and it was my teeny tiny readership who encouraged me to publish a legit book. So, really, without them, I'd have published jack squat LOL. Annnd they all bought it anyway, even though they'd pretty much read everything for free, eh?

Now it's just my way of showing my appreciation for their support. Also a pretty sweet way to get new subbers, imho. So, yeah. That's my free cents ^_~


message 16: by John (new)

John Saomes | 15 comments Agree with Annie... always have something free for your readers. It is the best way to get new subscribers to your blog and build that 'all important' email list.

message 17: by Mellissa (new)

Mellissa | 48 comments Should I put the free stories as a collection on Instafreebie and the indevidual stories on Smashwords or flip it? Or put the collection on both platforms?

message 18: by Aislinn (new)

Aislinn | 150 comments Mellissa, it depends what you want to use each platform for. If you are using instafreebie to get newsletter subscribers, then you only need one story. If it's just for distribution, then it doesn't really matter which option you choose.

If you were asking people to pay for the stories on Smashwords, I would suggest a collection. But since you said they'd be free, again I'm not sure that it matters. A collection might be easier for readers to find, but individual stories would you seem more established with more stories.

My take is that it's up to you! I think there would be pros and cons either way.

message 19: by Mellissa (new)

Mellissa | 48 comments Thanks, just distribution for Instafreebie.

message 20: by Aislinn (new)

Aislinn | 150 comments Then I'd say you should have one or the other, but there isn't much point in having both platforms. Targeting your promotions to one platform tends to help. For example, when you link to the story on your twitter, which link would you choose? Since neither platform will market for you, it won't really matter, so you may as well have only the one.

I'd probably just put your stories on Smashwords. a) because you've already mentioned they are blind friendly, and b) because people can 'follow' you as an author there (and get notifications for your new releases) which will help when you release books you want people to pay for. If you get a following on Instafreebie, it would be much harder to then move your readers over to a secondary platform like Smashwords and start buying things.

Even better, you could just post them on your website (if you have one) and build a following there.

(I know this is a tangent from the question you actually asked, so sorry about that! I hope it's helpful regardless.)

message 21: by Mellissa (new)

Mellissa | 48 comments Thanks. It's helpful, and makes logical sense to put everything on Smashwords.

message 22: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments *waves at Miss Mellissa*

Nice to meet ya! ^_^

Hmm. I actually did the opposite with my freebie and went wide with it - Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, SW, blah, blah, blah. Of course, Amazon gets the most DLs by a landslide but I don't have any dry platforms so I think that's a good sign *smirks*

Not saying it's the right way cuz what the heck do I know? LOL but yeah, just what I personally do.

Anyhoo, if you wanna see how I have the book page set up on my author site, you gotta go digging for it cuz I'd have to bookwhack to show it to you haha!

Best of luck!!


message 23: by Aislinn (new)

Aislinn | 150 comments Annie, out of curiosity, did you do that before or after you had paid books available?

I have 2 freebies - one wide, and one just to tempt people onto my mailing list. But I didn't make the wide freebie free until I had full price books as well. (If that makes sense?)

I'm not sure which strategy would work best if you only have short freebies, but nothing full price yet. (It also depends on their length, too, I guess?)

message 24: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments @Miss Aislinn: After. However...

1. My freebie is just random crap (seriously) totally unrelated to my paid books.
2. I originally made it as a gift for my existing subbers cuz, well, I adore em. A lot.
3. Then I was like, "Huh, I guess I might as well toss it into the wild and see what happens."

I've no idea if the "strategy" would work for others and it does seem counterintuitive but...

*keeps doing it anyway* XP

I should mention, though, that I have a reeeally bad habit of looking at what the majority of authors are doing/advising others to do and doing the exact opposite. Just to see if it can be done *grins sheepishly* Methinks most peeps do what you do and offer book 1 of a series for free. My first book is priced the highest, so, yeah. LOL

message 25: by Aislinn (new)

Aislinn | 150 comments Hey, whatever works, right? That's the nice thing about being an Indie Author, we can try things for a while just to see. :D

message 26: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
This is another 'There is no Secret Ingredient' kind of topic.

There really is no right or wrong way, just try!

Personally, I was attempting to get some books as permafree but I couldn't get them to work. I am glad now that it didn't work.

Now I have books that I can give away for free when I want to, and otherwise they are set to a low price. The ability to make them free for a few days per pay period does help me move other books, and get some interest.

Otherwise they are slowly making a profit when they are sitting there, ready to strike with a promo!

I wouldn't do it any other way now, I don't think. But that is my story, not yours. Do what you think is the best for you, and tell us how it goes!

message 27: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Phil wrote: "At the moment, I'm looking to build an online presence in advance of the publication of my book (website, twitter, etc.). I was wondering if people have experience of offering short stories, flash fiction, stuff like that for free as a way to raise awareness and interest prior to releasing the "real thing". ..."

I going to weigh in with a cautionary note. First, consider the audience for your genre. Having an on-line presence does not have the same value in every case. Since you are starting early, check out the on-line presence of authors who write books similar to yours. Not popular authors, but new authors like yourself. See well-trafficked their sites are, how many comments they get, and what they offer for free. If they are published, check their sales ranking over time. This will give you an idea of to expect for the effort you are going to expend doing this.

My personal experience is that building an on-line presence is much harder than selling books. We have a website and a newsletter through which we offer free material and they contribute next to nothing to our sales. They allow us to keep in touch with a handful of readers, which we like, but the marketing value of negligible.

Personally, after about 4 years of doing this, I believe the "start early" strategy is oversold, especially for fiction. Many authors burn out in their first year or two, and I believe the notion of "hitting the ground running" is a main culprit. Trying to get followers early on in the current environment is extremely difficult because new authors lack effective reach. In addition, followers do not generally translate into buyers in significant numbers, especially early on.

So setting expectations is key. It much better to have your fourth, eighth, or tenth book gain traction than your first. Attempting to build a following too early, which many new authors do, can create a false scene of failure when it doesn't "work". In fact, it didn't "work" simply because there was no way for it to "work" and the same effort applied at a more appropriate time, would have yielded much more satisfactory results.

As has been said, everyone's situation is different and there is no overall solution. So whatever you do, do not allow it to dampen your enthusiasm. You might need it later.

message 28: by Phil (new)

Phil Monks (phil_monks) | 9 comments Good advice Owen, thanks very much.

message 29: by Jax (new)

Jax Burrows (jaxburrows) | 3 comments Owen, this is really sound advice. It makes perfect sense to have as many books published as possible. Trying too hard to gain followers on social media, or readers from our websites usually has the opposite effect.

Just enjoy the process of writing and enjoy the ride. The rest will follow in time.

message 30: by Julie (new)

Julie Cumpston-Bittner (julz_b21) | 3 comments I agree 100% with Jax Burrows. I think there's nothing wrong with getting into the whole marketing aspect if you are interested and even more so, passionate about marketing, whether it's social media, email, network, etc. However, I think it's best to hone your skills in writing and gaining authority and credibility. When you get recognition, you start to automatically get sales, provided that you are selling and using the right platforms, you might have autopilot income that allows you to put some time into marketing on social media. Otherwise, stick to practicing and perfecting your writing on a full time basis.

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