The Power of Free – Guest Post by Alex Zabala

Alex Zabala
Alex Zabala
I love being compensated for my hard work, both as a landscape contractor and an author, however I also know the how effective the power of ‘free’ can be for an author. It sounds like a contradiction but it’s not, especially when you control how much ‘free’ you want to give away. When used judicially it can actually help generate future sales.

Savvy marketers know this. That’s why they spend money hiring people to stand in supermarkets and offer free samples of their food to passersby in hopes that people will purchase the entire enchilada instead of a small sample.

It’s almost the same way in the book business.

My co-author and I engage in giveaways about twice a year for 72 hours at a time on a website that caters to what they call ‘flinch-free-clean books’ at Clean Indie Reads (We never telegraph in advance when we are going to do this). These offers are a nice way to expose us to more people and give us visibility where authors want it the most: Amazon.com. (this is for e-books only)

Most of the times we will offer one book for free (usually the older one) and discount the price of the other newer titles. The free title usually makes it the ‘Top 100 in free books’ on Amazon. The discounted books will also rise dramatically on Amazon rankings.

Results: Last month we moved about 98 books in 72 hours 60% were free and 40% were paid for.

Does this marketing strategy work? Yes it does. How can I trace the customers who bought my books? In the real world one cannot trace every sale. Nobody can. But that’s okay with me. There are about 840 million English speaking people in the world. That’s my target audience, not just my 200 e-mail contacts. This strategy was much less expensive than hiring some marketing company with no guarantee of success and no way of tracking their moves.

Some say that giving away e-books encourages people to download books that won’t be read.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I know people are reading my books. How?

Amazon provides my publisher a detailed account of how many pages are currently being read (as long as the e-readers are connected to the Internet). So, whether my books were purchased, electronically borrowed or downloaded for free, Amazon tells me that an average of 3,000 pages of my two published novels are being read daily! I don’t know who these readers are, but I know they are reading!

Also, my books have never stopped selling since I published them, (you can see the sales ranking at Amazon), of course I’m not selling thousands of books, but I am selling! My hope is to make ‘cheerleaders’ of those who received my books for free so they can come back for the other books or tell their friends about my work.

So use the power of ‘free’ properly and see if it works for you.

Alex Zabala is the author of the bestselling book Treasure for the Mayan King and The Golden Scepter. His new book, The Mind Games of Dr. Sova is on sale now at Amazon (available June 1st 2016).

Who Does 99¢ Pricing Hurt?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/570269 by Andy Reid http://www.sxc.hu/profile/RockinDadIf first books were universally priced at 99¢, the only folks who’d lose are authors who won’t write or can’t sell a second book. I say, let’s set that expectation!

99¢ is a good price for a single “taster” book so folks can be sure if they like your books. If so, they’ll pay full boat for the others. If not, you don’t have a frustrated reader who feels ripped off, you just have someone who quietly goes away. Folks who pay $12 for a book they hated are far more vocal than folks who only paid 99¢.

Be clear with your readers that’s exactly what you’re doing. “This book is the taster sample. If you like it, here are 6 more!”

Everyone in traditional publishing mourns the loss of the gatekeepers. This is built-in thresholding. Don’t set the bar artificially from the outside, set the bar at “Do you want to write a book badly enough that you’re willing to sell it for 99¢ because you know you’ll be writing more?”

Who Says a $10 Book is Better Than a 99¢ Book?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/641396 by jweston http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jwestonSeems I started this last week, talking about digital book pricing. Since digital books have essentially no cost involved in delivery, the price is almost an abstract concept.

It’s often argued that a book priced at 99¢ looks like the author doesn’t value their own work (usually by authors who don’t want to sell their books for 99¢.)

In what context do “price” and “value” relate to each other? That’s the question I’ll be exploring in a bit of detail this week.
… more … “Who Says a $10 Book is Better Than a 99¢ Book?”

5 Things I Believe About Pricing Your Digital Book

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1243714 by  floretan http://www.sxc.hu/profile/floretanSmashwords did extensive research and discovered that, all other things being equal, the price that sells is $3.99.

A few thoughts:

  1. I don’t buy digital books. I don’t even download them free, or, well, when I do, I don’t bother to read them. I’m a book in my hands guy. So as a buyer, digital price is irrelevant.
  2. The market expects that digital books will cost less than print. For good or ill, we have to be aware of the expectation, and if we defy it, we have to manage it, not just ignore it.
  3. … more … “5 Things I Believe About Pricing Your Digital Book”