At first I gave my work for free. Then I decided to charge for it. I had readers then and still do. There is nothing wrong with giving your books away for a bit. I haven't given my books away for a few years now. It didn't stop anyone from reading my work.
I don't market my work at all, but am very social in many networking sites. This in return lets others know about me as an author. If they want to read my work it will be up to them. People know me as a person with different interests not just as a writer.
As a new author with just one book now on Kindle and in Paperback, it's interesting to read the different opinions on this- whether to do a free promotion or not. And after reading all the posts in here, you all have left me still sitting squarely on the fence. I don't know if it's a good idea or not. And I hear you on the "consider a free promotion if you have a series" - because I am at a point where I am trying to decide on whether to write a sequel. I'm selling about 90 to 105 ebooks a month currently, so I figure if it ain't broke don't fix it.
I put a bunch of time into researching the best opening price for my book as an unknown author and went with it. I had the benefit though of first putting my book through a small trial of sorts on a site, and the feedback was pretty good. They wanted more, after having read the first several chapters for free. Many said they would buy it if the price was decent, so I used that a relative gauge, figuring it was good enough to sell some. Maybe it's not a blockbuster, ok, but hey- had I gone the freebie route I'd have nothing at all to spur me on to write a sequel. So WHAT if 2,000 people read your book? For free? Nah, not for me after all that hard work and loss of sleep writing the darn thing. But then again, I am not the type that has to have the ego massaged. Now some five months after publishing it, I am approaching 500 sales at $3.99 in the niche market of post-apocalyptic SciFi with absolutely near zero promotion on my part. And made it to #50 best-sellers so far in the UK in my genre. So at least I am getting something back for nearly two years of on and off work on the book to finish it. (It's a hobby, not a job for me.)
So given my experience, I'd have to recommend finding some site first where you can post up the first few chapters and see what kind of reactions you get. From there you'll know whether what you've posted is freebie material or whether you'd stand a chance at selling a few on Amazon.
The live music scene, as a comparison, has suffered terribly from wannabe bands playing for free or even paying to play. Now none of the club owners want to pay jack doo-doo for a band. So overall I would discourage giving stuff away, unless you are just incomplete without someone reading your book. I could care less, frankly. I spent the time, did the work, and I am still only making about .40 cents per hour on that work. And now they gonna take my .40 cents too and want it for free? I am better than that. And so are YOU.
The live music scene, as a comparison, has suffered terribly from wannabe bands playing for free or even paying to play. Now none of the club owners want to pay jack doo-doo for a band.
Actually the music industry went down hill when many club owners lost paying customers due to the smoking bans (brought to us with varied grants by the industry that makes the no-smoke products if anyone cares to deeply research it).
It went to 'free to play' or 'pay to play' as the funds dried up to pay the bands in many areas. Then on the other end, many places (including restaurants, ect.) eventually had to close up as the customers stayed home when bans went into enforcement.
Derrick M Long wrote:
As a first time author, I think i giving your book away for free is unfortunately what you end up doing in order to drive traffic to your book. Otherwise it won't be seen.
Just because you write a "great book" doesn't mean people will even know it's there.
That is a way a newbie thinks. There is a whole industry in existence in place to drive traffic to a book in order to make sales, and it is called marketing. Like any product, a book won't be seen if you don't make the effort to make it known. If you give it away, you can find yourself having freebie rebound where you suffer devaluation of your book that those seeing it given for free, hold out for the next giveaway if it ever happens. If not, they happily get caught up in the myriad of other books out there for free, or that catches their eyes.
When I make my book known through traditional marketing methods, I get sales, plain and simple. This is why commercials still go on, ads still continue, authors still make rounds (and the savvy ones come prepared with books to sale on the spot), because these methods are ways to reach audiences who would pay for your book. Best bet is to start out a niche for yourself in your subject, make yourself known in that subject to people who are interested in it, and plug away your book each opportunity. Experiment with all kinds of ways; keep handy on you business-size cards that have your book on it, a brief explanation of it that hooks, and call to action where to buy it. Old fashioned marketing is a time-tested way to drive traffic that results in sales. It's almost like people want to take what they perceive as the 'easy way' to drive traffic through a notion that somehow giving tons of books away will guarantee exposure that translates to worthwhile sales down the road. When this was a novelty, giving books for free, for a while it worked. But now there has been so many and ongoing giveaways that a troubling mentality change, though expected, has taken place from consumers that they are experiencing an entitlement factor to getting to read books for a subscription or getting many for free.
It brings to mind BMI's recent triumph in a lot court battle against a company named Pandora that severely underpaid musicians in digital downloads so essentially musicians were finding themselves forced to give away their creations without proper renumeration. You can read that here:
Thank God that the court recognized that a creator should not have to be forced to give away his or her work to support the growth of another business. To me this is the problem with Amazon's KDP, in that authors are being in the monetarily unhealthy position to give away their creations to support the growth of another business, which is Amazon, who is raking in the bucks on the subscriptions at all authors' expense, because all authors who partake in this KDP have to participate in the programs that give away their work and face not getting proper renumeration per reader.
As in all things I am sure for a certain portion of authors this may work, especially those established with a series of books, but for many it is not good business sense, and creates an expectation from readers that they do not have to buy anything but just hold out until it is their free reading time. Any rate, I feel that the long haul fight that BMI succeeded in pretty much mirrors what is going on now with these free giveaways or a percentage renumeration of a generalized pot that does not give proper payment. And the most incredible thing to me is one has to agree to all stripping of rights to present one's book anywhere in the process, so you are held in marketing hostage, again to support the growth of another business.
I agree. When I first published on KDP I thought the five day free promotion was to introduce yourself to readers, to give them a taste, a teaser and if they liked they'd come back for more. In return for the free book I would get a review, or feed back to encourage others interest and sales, or at least told why it wasn't worth finishing, or even if they did, if it was any good or not. In fact, I got Neither. As you said, didn't pay for it, so why bother, haven't got time to anyway, got too many free books to trawl through and download so don't have to.
Problem with this, as I now know it, is that Amazon love us giving away free books as it fuels the need for Kindles, as I think without them the sales of such would be much lower, it's like the predator parasite relation: one needs the other to exist? However, I've often moaned that if Amazon claim to be on the side of the unpublished author they should at least make it a requirement that if you download an authors work whilst on the free promotion, you as the reader are duty bound to give feed back even if the work is not worthy of finishing, and even if you don't have an account, or have ever bought anything on Amazon before, otherwise what's the point, and is the least the author deserves for his trouble. Let's face it, you have a kindle, someone bought it, or the story was bought for you, either way money has gone into Amazon coffers because of, so the Kindle owner has the right, and should be made to use it.
If an author wishes to give their work away for free that's up to them, but they aren't doing anyone any good, least as not themselves. Gary
David williams wrote:
Hello my name is David and I just released my book called an eagle eye with a lions heart, and I see kindle unlimited has it up for free? How do I change that since that's not what I asked for?
If you checked the box to include your book in kdp select, you also agreed for your book to be available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. All books in select have this Free to subscribers banner on their product page, because it is free to subscribers. But you will still get paid for borrows. If you don't want it in select, you should have a couple of days to change your mind if you go to your bookshelf and look for select details.
I agree, Derrick, but it would be helpful if Amazon could change these free promotions to be more effective for the self published authors. My own suggestion would be that customers only be allowed to grab one free title, until they've reviewed. When they've reviewed the title they've got for nothing, then, and only then, should they be able to grab another. That way the author is paid with a little bit of effort from the customer, even if they only give it a star rating and say "blah". Of course the reality is that it's probably just being done to benefit Amazon, at the expense of self publishing authors. The books are snatched up by the bucket load by people who may not even read them, but, in allowing that, Amazon drives more traffic to the site, resulting in more sales of mainstream published books. My own experience to date is that one person bought my book within a couple of days of it being published, a week and a half later I set it to free and about 30 people grabbed it. Only one real sale since then, for a grand total of 2. No reviews, thanks, all you lazy readers. Will any of them review it, talk to their friends about it? I doubt it. I suspect I'll sell one more copy every month or so, if that, and never have it reviewed, so that nobody will take a chance on it, even though $2.99 is not a lot to ask for several months' work. If it sounds like I'm angry at readers, I am, but, as you can see from my suggestion, Amazon could fashion this "marketing device" to actually do the job it's being claimed it's supposed to do. Readers would eagerly review a book, whether they love it, hate it or don't much care, just so they could grab their next free title. Customers would then be more likely to pay for the self published title, since it wouldn't be a totally unknown quantity.
But Kindle is giving away one of titles Dog Soldiers MC: The Beginning. Sales for this title hardly
show up, but the first in this series Dog Soldiers MC sells well and in numbers for me. Have I inadvertently
somehow given Kindle permission to give away this e-book? How do I put a stop to this?
I'm in total agreement. Writers are the lowest form of life in the world of art and creativity, well that's from the perspective of those that pay writers or hire them. We're treated as degenerate whiners who do nothing but criticize and stab at the world based on our own insecure views on existentialism, neuroses and angst. Yet when we create, we do it well. We have to take a stand en masse and tell the world that we won't take it anymore. We need to protest or have a sit in, kind of like the occupy movement only for writers.
Well that garnered a few laughs.
Pricing ourselves into the poor house is how we've been doing it for years - nay - centuries. And it's entirely our own fault. And here we have the perfect platform, a podium if you will in which to sell our wares and hopefully make a bob or two. But therein lies the downfall, when undoubtedly the reading public stands back and vilifies us for inching a few more pennies from them. "Please sir, may I have some more?"
Who will buy us? I think Amazon should get rid of the 99 cent fracas once and for all and let us at least enjoy a bit of silver for all our hard work and I'm not talking about the shameless scoundrels that produce craigslistyfragilisticexpialidocious self-help to success 10 pagers that garner rave reviews and pull in all the greenery.