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).