The Benefits of Free

10 Comments

  1. Free books are always good. Two things I’ve never understood are a) why authors give away things like coverflats and bookmarks as prizes, and b) why publishers make authors pay for extra copies, yet give away scores of books at RWA writer conferences (am really, really baffled by the constant promotion and marketing of books to fellow authors when readers are ignored outside of the already tried and semi-failed book signings!).

  2. Hey Belinda, great post. (And right when I have a free release, haha)

    For me, my goal with my free release is to start building up a reader base and to build my newsletter lists, or blog subscribers, etc. In the future I’ll probably only offer a free ebook when I actually have a print book of the same thing ready to go. That way, I don’t miss sales from people who like what they see, but as you said, preferred a print copy.

    Cory Doctorow is another writer who is really a big proponent of FREE. His publisher is Tor, and they actually allow him to give the ebook away free, while they are selling the print versions.

    Doctorow says books are fetish objects and readers aren’t about to give up their fetish objects. His books routinely outperform similar books that don’t offer a simultaneous free ebook.

    With “impulse purchases” online for inexpensive ebooks I think you still lose some potential readers from the annoyance of pulling out the credit card or the pay pal account.

    I don’t know if I’ll “always” give out my ebook versions free indefinitely, but I would at the VERY least give them away free for a limited time like MJ Rose did.

  3. thx… something more to take into consideration when the time comes

  4. @Evangeline I think people give out free bookmarks because 1. they’re cheap 2. readers leave them around, so it’s additional free marketing 3. there’s an urban myth going around that readers still use them.

    Now the whole business of making authors pay for extra copies of their books, whereas publishers will throws tons of them away at conferences like RWA… Well, I’m sure someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea, possibly because it is (or was) more likely that the author was handing them out to friends, and not networking/marketing the book. We all know that this isn’t the case today; authors do the majority of marketing work once the book is on the shelves. But then, that’s the problem with a huge system like the American publishing industry… it’s too hard to change quickly.

    @Zoe Those are excellent points, and thanks for bringing them up! I like the idea of having a free ebook while there’s a print version for sale. However, I also feel that asking for a dollar for the ebook isn’t necessarily a bad idea, if you’re trying to make ends meet. But like you said, even by asking for a dollar, you’re running the risk of losing your potential impulse reader-buyers. It’s a tough call, really.

    MJ Rose is kind of a genius, I think. When people hear there’s going to be something for free, and only for a limited time, they often decide they must have it. So maybe that’s the trick? Offer free/discounted items for a limited time, and see how that works for ya, I guess?

    @laughingwolf Glad you liked it!

  5. Hey Belinda, Oh I definitely agree. Right now I’m trying to decide whether I should offer a free podcast, free ebook, and a print release (which obviously isn’t free hehe) on future work, or if I should offer a free podcast, really inexpensive impulse buy $2.00 for ebooks, and a print release.

    I will probably experiment with both options.

    And yeah, the “for a limited time” thing, and then charging even a modest price, might be the best bet. Because the value of “free” might go down if you can get it indefinitely. I’ve got a book waiting in my Amazon.com shopping cart called: “Predictably Irrational” that goes into a lot of psychology and a lot of it is geared toward marketing and why we do what we do.

  6. Hey Belinda, Oh I definitely agree. Right now I'm trying to decide whether I should offer a free podcast, free ebook, and a print release (which obviously isn't free hehe) on future work, or if I should offer a free podcast, really inexpensive impulse buy $2.00 for ebooks, and a print release.

    I will probably experiment with both options.

    And yeah, the "for a limited time" thing, and then charging even a modest price, might be the best bet. Because the value of "free" might go down if you can get it indefinitely. I've got a book waiting in my Amazon.com shopping cart called: "Predictably Irrational" that goes into a lot of psychology and a lot of it is geared toward marketing and why we do what we do.

  7. Hiya, i have seen your site when searching a few weeks ago and i really love the design! I just bought a new 3 character domain (cost me a packet) for a niche review blog, and i was wondering if your design is a free or paid one? I’m new to WordPress and about to set it up, and i would really like to get something with a similar look to yours. Any ideas where i could download or buy something similar? Thanks for your help! :)

  8. Hiya, i have seen your site when searching a few weeks ago and i really love the design! I just bought a new 3 character domain (cost me a packet) for a niche review blog, and i was wondering if your design is a free or paid one? I’m new to WordPress and about to set it up, and i would really like to get something with a similar look to yours. Any ideas where i could download or buy something similar? Thanks for your help! :)

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