Saturday, October 29, 2011

Free Ebooks: Good for Authors and Readers?

I always have a split opinion on the topic of free ebooks - opinions to match my personality, you ask? Maybe. This is one argument where I can't pick a side and stick to it. It's very easy to see the pros and cons of both sides, based on my own experience. 

I experimented with giving away a book this summer. Recently, I received final numbers for On Falcon's Wings as a freebie. Below are the total number of downloads per site: 21,292
Barnes & Noble: 1,312
Kobo: 51
Smashwords: 317
Sony:  114 

That's a grand total of 23,806 downloads all occurring June 6 - August 6. It would have been a shorter period, except a certain company among those listed above refused to set my price back to $2.99, so I had to yank my book from their site. In the meantime, Amazon kept the book free because it remained free on that one site.  

In May 2011, I set the price of On Falcon's Wings at Smashwords to $0.00. I offered the ebook for free, initially in the hopes that it would generate one measly review on Smashwords. Still waiting. Tick-tock. Anyway, while that review never materialized, I was able to get Amazon to move pretty quickly on matching the free offer. Here's how I did it:

When you're attempting to get Amazon to match your free e-book pricing, you want to click or have your friends click the link above which informs Amazon of the freebie. I've heard from writers who saw no effect from doing this. I made it work in three tries. Each time I saw the book go free on the sites where Smashwords distributes, I alerted Amazon. Within two weeks, the ebook went free on How did I know? Since I was obsessively checking my sales at Amazon KDP, I knew something was up when I woke up to more than 1,000 downloads on June 6.   

How good can this move be for authors and their readers? From the author side, it gives us exposure to readers who might not take a chance on us even at $2.99 or lower. If you're an author of a series, making the first book free could sell subsequent novels. I believe David Dalgish credits some of his success to this. For readers on a tight budget, you can stock up on  all the freebies you want, including best-selling authors published by the Big 6 (whose ebooks tend to as expensive as mass market paperbacks). Also, it lets you sample the dreaded unknown author without parting with hard-earned cash on what could potentially be a dud.

For me, therein lies the problem with freebies for authors and readers. Yes, you gain exposure, but you also attract readers who will download anything, including your grocery list, just because it's free. Is that the audience you want to attract, or is it readers who are genuinely interested in your book? Also, if your book is a standalone, or you have no other offering, making that book free won't help you generate revenue. Also, for readers who download everything that's free, how many of those ebooks have you actually read? In recent weeks on Kindleboards, one of the moderators mentioned she was going to read On Falcon's Wings as part of the general topic thread, but she couldn't remember why or how she got the ebook. Sigh. Thanks to sites like Pixel of Ink, I'm guilty of this myself. I have over 300 books on my Kindle now, half of which are from favorite authors whose work I downloaded because it was being offered for free. Am I going to get to those books any time soon? It's not likely, but I'll try.  As for my promotional efforts with other books, I'm looking into new ways to generate ROI.

Today, I found a site linked at Self-Publishing Review that offers an interesting take on the freebie.  Pay With A Tweet is a social payment system that rewards those who help you promote your work with a free download of that work. Provide your contact information, a link to your download and the tweet you want sent out. Information can also be posted to Facebook. It's a variation on free, but whether it offers a greater return remains to be seen. I'll let you know what I think in a followup post in a few weeks. 

Have you experimented with offering an e-book for free? As a reader, do you gravitate to free ebooks? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Advance copies of Sultana's Legacy until Nov. 1

Now through November 1, 2011, order a paperback OR ebook copy of Sultana and receive a copy of Sultana's Legacy for FREE! How? Email me a copy of your receipt from a retailer like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, OR direct from my website through Paypal, etc. as proof of purchase for Sultana. I'll send you a copy of the sequel, Sultana's Legacy in your preferred format, paperback or ebook.

Does it matter when I purchased Sultana

Is the receipt for my purchase of Sultana the only proof you will accept so I can get a free copy of Sultana's Legacy? 

How many free copies can I receive per receipt submitted?      

Any shipping restrictions? 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Getting over it and getting published

Remember when I was talking about fear of publishing the other day? Well, that's nothing compared to the fear of losing a loved one. Since last Thursday, my mom has been hospitalized. She's got it all thanks to diabetes, "the gift that keeps on giving." The worst was watching her on a ventilator in ICU for three days, though a close second was hearing that she had a blockage in her heart. By the grace of God and very attentive hospital staff, she is on her way to recovery and eventual discharge. 

It's amazing what incidents like this will do to teach us that the little stuff we worry about, like that old fear of publishing, doesn't matter. It's the people whom we love. Everything else is just crap we worry about, but most of it's irrelevant. If I never publish anything again, I could care less. It will be very different when, not if, I lose my mom one day. She is my rock and solid support. She has been mother and father to me even when my dad was around. The eventuality that she will not be around makes me cherish the moments we have together, even when we argue. I get my best features from her, including my determination, spelled stubbornness. That's why this latest book is dedicated to two people; a great writing friend and my mom. I think both ladies will be surprised and delighted.

So tonight, I'm putting all my silly fears aside and hitting the button:   

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...