The issue of whether to offer one’s book for free is an issue that has the author community divided into two distinct camps. Those that swear by them and those that swear at them.
Most of the discussion deals with the free books on Amazon, and understandably so since it is the largest eBook retailer. There is really only two ways to go about having a free book on Amazon. Typically, the lowest price you can set your book at is $.99. But through joining KDP select you can get up to 5 free days every three months. Otherwise, by making it free on smashwords’ premium catalog, and thus free at Amazon’s major competitors, it is possible to have Amazon ‘permanantly’ price match it to free. I won’t go into further detail about these two options, maybe in another post on another day.
So once you have your book free, most authors believe one of two things will happen. You will either lose any potential paying customers and thus shoot yourself in the foot, or you will get a surge in sales of other books you may have listed. Obviously, the latter tactic works better if you make the first book in a series free. This is what I have done.
There are authors that will brag about the massive number of free books they have given away and lick their lips at all the sales they think will follow. Then there are authors that stomp their feet and insist that all the freebies are what is causing them no sales. After all, why would anyone pay for something to read when there is so much out there available for free?
I really don’t want to get bogged down in the worn out arguments for and against freebies. They are all over if you want to read about them, just google it. I simply want to say why I like to give my book away for free.
Firstly, I am absolutely convinced that the sales I have achieved in my series never would have happened if the first book wasn’t offered for free. Obviously, that is reason enough to be solidly on the for-freebies-side. But my reasoning goes a little bit beyond that.
I write books with one purpose. When I read a book, I’m looking for one thing. Entertainment, pure and simple. So, when I write, I write to entertain. With so many options out there, both good and bad, it is easy to get frustrated when trying to find a good book or series to read. I like to give my first book away for free so that my readers get a chance to know if they like my writing and story telling style or not before they spend their hard earned money on me. I think that is fair. If they like me, they will feel better buying my other books. If not, then nothing is lost.
It’s really that simple. I like to give my readers a little something for nothing before having another shot at entertaining them.