Support for Indie Authors discussion

136 views
Marketing Tactics > Do you understand this marketing tactic?

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments We were talking in this other topic about writing at least three books and then give away or put on sale the first. But do you understand this?

Some time ago, I "bought" a free book from a certain writer in Amazon. The book was the third in a six books series. And no, the others were not free. Perhaps they had been, but I'm not sure. I never got to read the book, but I think all the books in the series were self-conclusive.

So... what benefit would you get from offering for free a book in the middle of a saga? Hoping that people will read and then try the previous books? I find it a bit silly to offer discounted/free more than the first book; I mean, if I couldn't hook you after you read 100,000 words I wrote, I'm not likely to do it at all.

This author has been around for quite a while and amassed a noticeable (but not huge) fanbase. So it would seem she knows what she's doing. But I simply don't understand it.


message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) This has been discussed several times. Some people believe that offering a later book in series will force readers to buy earlier books. My personal opinion is that this tactic is cheap and would turn me off to an author. However, there is no way of knowing if that is indeed what the author's intent is. I know many authors who simply do free days for each new release in hopes that their loyal readers will see this as a reason to write a review. I've been known to give away several books in a series as a means of resuscitation for sales, but I personally always start with book one and maybe give away books 2 & 3 as well.


message 3: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments Thank you for the explanation Christina, and sorry, I didn't find a topic like this in a quick search.


message 4: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve Montcombroux | 66 comments Could it have been a promotion, like Kindle 4 days free download, upon release, or sometime after, of the book? Were the following books in the series already published? Because if they were then as Christina said, it is baiting the readers and not in a nice way. As a reader I wouldn't buy the previous books after reading #3 - it would have to be absolutely riveting and fascinating for me to buy the previous books.

By "self-conclusive" you mean stand alone, i.e. didn't depend on the previous book in order to follow the story?

Maybe that tactic did work for the author. I wouldn't do it.


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

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
Silly, maybe. Maybe not. If it's working for her, then we can call it silly and cheap all day long while she's getting sales.


message 6: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve Montcombroux | 66 comments There's so much about marketing strategies... it boggles the mind (mine anyway!) I sign on with Mark Dawson's webinar course on marketing - the free one. Some of the theory I already know but I didn't apply it. It gives me moments of Oh-I-didn't-think-of-that.


message 7: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments A possible side effect might be if readers are looking through the free 100 category and see a book in the top 100 and down load it, it moves it that much higher in 'free' and stays visible. Also it may drive interest to earlier books.

Also, since you think they are conclusive but haven't read them, maybe they are. There are series with related/same characters but standalones, however, since readers like series that's how/why they are linked.


message 8: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 611 comments Hm, I've only offered the first book in my series for free, but I have promoted the later books at 99 cents while the earlier books remained full price. For me, promotion of the later books had more to do with reaching new readers by staggering promotions and therefore bringing visibility to the whole series. That was my first thought when I read the original post here about book #3 of 6 being free. There could be other reasons though.


message 9: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 204 comments I'm dipping my toes to learn my way around G/reads. I'm thinking of a give-away for my first book (it's already on promo on Kdp), but it's the one selling. The second book is a complete dud. Maybe the title doesn't work, I'm not sure. Now I wonder - do I give-away the one that sells or the dud?


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Shadinger (pshadingerauthor) | 2 comments Hi … My question would be, "Why do you think it is a dud"? Bad cover? Poor story line? What do you feel is wrong with the title? I'd say before you give away anything, figure out what makes the book a dud. Is it a follow up to book one? If so, do you have any references to the first one? I have a main character who is in all four of my novels … that seems to keep people interested. Good luck. Paul


message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen Cogan (kecogan) | 2 comments I periodically offer a stand alone Regency romance for free. Inside the book, I offer another free book that can be downloaded when readers sign up on my mailing list. This technique did initially work to grow my list.


message 12: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Zak | 4 comments Terrific subject. I’ve followed discussions for years now without responding but I’ve always felt we authors sell our selves short like no other ‘industry.’ We work months on a novel, pay to package our work, then give it away. I’ve met readers that say “I’ve NEVER had to pay for an ebook. I just read the free books.” I wish I could convince authors to unite and stop the giveaways. Establish a lower price as a program, but ALWAYS at least earn SOMETHING from your effort. Once FREE is gone readers will gravitate to ‘low price’ as the threshold. I understand marketing. I’ve worked in marketing for over 25 years. I understand the “loss leader” concept that stores use. This practice seems self demeaning to the creative process to me. I ‘feel’ for all those that work so hard. Be well out there!!!


message 13: by David (new)

David Jordan | 3 comments Hmm it does seem a little silly to give away books other than the first one in the series. It just seems to make more sense to give away the first book.


message 14: by Christina (last edited Jun 18, 2018 07:28AM) (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Jerry wrote: "Terrific subject. I’ve followed discussions for years now without responding but I’ve always felt we authors sell our selves short like no other ‘industry.’ We work months on a novel, pay to packag..."

Free is not exclusive to authors. Companies spend millions in promotional samples of products that I guarantee took longer and more resources to create. But free has always been an option for readers. As a child, I was a voracious reader who went through about 10 books a week and never paid for a single one unless I happened to bring it back late. Yes, I'm talking about libraries. Do libraries devalue our work?

Yes, if I really didn't want to spend a penny, I'd be able to exist off free Kindle books and when I first got my Kindle, that's exactly what I did. However, I used those free books to decide what authors I'd like to read more from. If a series was interesting and the free book did not end in a cliffhanger, I would binge on the rest. If an author gave away a standalone, I definitely went looking for other books because I think it takes a lot of guts to do that.

As an author, I give away free books all the time and I can honestly say, it's had the biggest impact on follow through sales. In fact, this past weekend, I gave away an entire series for one day. I paid for advertising. As of yesterday, I made back in sales of the same book what I paid for the ad. That's not including any KU page reads or sales of other titles.

But that's just the business side of things. I take the most issue with your last statement that free books demeans the creative process. The creative process has absolutely nothing to do with the business of selling books. Creating is its own reward. If I wrote a book I was proud of and never made a single cent from it, I wouldn't be any less proud.

But all of this is off topic.


message 15: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Zak | 4 comments You make some very valid points Christina. In every lawn we can find a weed but the lawn can still be pleasing to the eye. I’m happy for your success!


message 16: by Frank (new)

Frank Wayne (francophone) | 15 comments i have no problem controlling the price point of my book. After all, it took me 5 years to write, so it's important to charge what you feel it is worth. I don't use any third party distributor, so I control everything, from writing, to publication, to marketing, and distributing.


message 17: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments Wow, so many posts! I'm glad to read so many opinions on the topic!
Jerry, I was taught that in college too; that you should never offer your stuff for free. Even if you charge one cent, people should pay for it to appreciate it (it was about health services back then). Don't think just authors sell themselves short; as a doctor, I had to work like a slave for free train for two years before graduating, and even after then I have had to endure all sorts of excuses of why I was getting cuts in my honoraries.

But do remember that the higher you get in rank placement, the most people will notice you, so it could pay off. It is... a very complicated topic.
I plan to publish at least nine books of my series, so offering the first as a free sample can pay off. Free is how independent authors get some leverage, after all.
Part of me wants to agree with you, part with Christina... In an ideal world, I would want everyone to read my book. But in a world where I need money to cover my expenses, I'd love to get money, or at the very least a good review for each person who gets my books.


message 18: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Zak | 4 comments I think you’re right Haru. There is definitely a “pull and tug” to deciding whether rising in rank or eating should be a first priority. Unlike large corporations with deep pockets our decisions in this area have a more immediate impact. I still struggle with a deep sense that free creative work is needless and demeaning. Thank goodness we love what we do!


message 19: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (last edited Jun 19, 2018 09:25AM) (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Jerry wrote: "Terrific subject. I’ve followed discussions for years now without responding but I’ve always felt we authors sell our selves short like no other ‘industry.’ We work months on a novel, pay to package our work, then give it away. I’ve met readers that say “I’ve NEVER had to pay for an ebook. I just read the free books.” I wish I could convince authors to unite and stop the giveaways. Establish a lower price as a program, but ALWAYS at least earn SOMETHING from your effort."

Personally, I'd rather use Countdown deal at $1 than free run. If nothing else then because there were times when the spike of traffic caused by advertised free runs (and thus soaring in free charts) was so high Amazon saw it as potential bot attack and brought out the banhammer.
----------
Marie Silk wrote: "Hm, I've only offered the first book in my series for free, but I have promoted the later books at 99 cents while the earlier books remained full price. For me, promotion of the later books had more to do with reaching new readers by staggering promotions and therefore bringing visibility to the whole series. That was my first thought when I read the original post here about book #3 of 6 being free. There could be other reasons though."

You might be right there. Alone, it would feel strange but if it was a part of cascade promotions (for lack of better words) I can understand it.


message 20: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
Jerry wrote: "Terrific subject. I’ve followed discussions for years now without responding but I’ve always felt we authors sell our selves short like no other ‘industry.’ We work months on a novel, pay to package our work, then give it away. I’ve met readers that say “I’ve NEVER had to pay for an ebook. I just read the free books.” I wish I could convince authors to unite and stop the giveaways. Establish a lower price as a program, but ALWAYS at least earn SOMETHING from your effort. Once FREE is gone readers will gravitate to ‘low price’ as the threshold. I understand marketing. I’ve worked in marketing for over 25 years. I understand the “loss leader” concept that stores use. This practice seems self demeaning to the creative process to me. I ‘feel’ for all those that work so hard. Be well out there!!!"

Everyone wants unity - as long as everyone unites along with our own personal wishes and beliefs. As long as it is possible for authors to give away their books, it will continue.

Readers who never pay for ebooks probably would not start doing so if the books were no longer free. Perhaps some would, but I believe a large number of them would not. Or, they would be downloading far fewer books.

I see nothing self demeaning, nor do I see it as somehow harming the creative process. Marketing strategy and the creative process of writing the book have little to do with one another.

True story time. Last summer there was a nice young lady working in the coffee stand in my local library where I do most of my writing. I chatted with her most every day we were there at the same time. I found she has similar taste in literature. Then she was gone.

About a month and a half ago, I was delighted to see her back working again. She told me she had gone back to school and now was off for the summer. Our once or twice a week chats resume. I learned she's an English major, she learned I'm a writer. So, we talk about writing and the process of it. She seemed fascinated by my work in progress.

Last week we were talking about her classes and my book and I asked, "If I printed off a short story, would you read it?" She was thrilled.

I printed it yesterday, including the cover and put it in a nice binder to hold it. I took it to her and she was excited I'd remembered. She took a look at the cover and kinda squeed in delight. She practically begged me to let her pay me for it, but I wouldn't let her. Her reaction was payment enough. Will she read it? I don't know. Will she like it? I have no idea. But, for a moment it brought her some joy.

That's why I'm a writer.


message 21: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Dwayne, I can say I may have a similar story. I started writing and shared the fact with some of my most trusted gaming friends. Among them was a woman that could probably be my mother (basing on the fact that when I shared my age, she said she has a son of my age).

She's not a native English speaker yet she decided to give it a try while I was working on the first/second draft. Even though she reads maybe a chapter or two per month at most because her life often gets in the way and she admits that reading in her second language is hard for her. Yet she offers me support and sometimes comments/feedback - to someone she never met in person. She said she'd be willing to pay for it when it's done but if I got to have it printed on paperback, I'd probably send her signed author copy on my own expenses.


message 22: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
I have experience with this in a unique way and can offer some insight from the 'other side'.

I have a book series, there are 13 books.
The books are only loosely connected. Except for the last book every single one of them can be read by themselves and enjoyed without needing to read the others. They are all self conclusive.

While it is technically a series, it also isn't.

Do I give them away 1 a day in chronological order in hopes that someone notices and downloads them all for free, or misses the first couple and buys them later?
Absolutely! I do that once a month.

Do I give away book 4 or 9 randomly in the hopes that someone likes it and buys the rest or waits until they are free later or reads them on Kindle Unlimited?
Absolutely! In June I only have 4 days where I am not randomly giving one away for free, and if I had more books I would have zero days without a promo (working on it).

Does this work?
Absolutely! Not that I am the most popular author out there, but this does work sometimes, either with increased giveaways as the series goes through chronologically, or random pick ups and kindle reads after a more popular random free day.

Do I feel guilty about it?
Absolutely not! These books were specially meant to be fast, fun, and often free. When they are not free, they are not expensive. These books were made to stand alone but also be a series. I do not, for a single second, believe that marketing this series like this is unscrupulous.

I also have a book series that is not stand alone. All 3 must be read in order.
Do I give away book 2 randomly to entice others to buy book one?
No. I've never done that.
Do I give away book 1 randomly to entice others to buy book 2 + 3?
Yes, yes I do do that. Yes.


back to top