Should you just give it away?

What’s better than free?

It might seem irrational, but one of the best ways that authors have found to gain popularity and profitability for their eBooks has been to, well, give them away. Authors have found that dropping the price of their books to $0, at least for a short time, leads to dramatically better sales when they do raise the price.

[Recommended Reading: How Free Books Build Your Brand as an Author and Authority]

Speaking on The Self Publishing Podcast, independent author David Wright found that this type of promotion works, especially with writers who work in genre fiction. “Free downloads drive sales,” he said. “Especially with the serialized fiction model, where if our readers get our first episode for free, they want to read on, so they buy the next episode or the full season.”

[Recommended Reading: How To Serialize with Lulu]

Dropping the price of your eBook can help raise your sales rank and visibility, while, at the same time, promoting other books you’ve written. Of course, the lost revenue can sting a bit, but who knows if readers would have taken the plunge on your book if you hadn’t taken the cost-free promotional plunge?

But is a free promotion right for you? For serialized fiction, the answer is yes. Get readers hooked, and then get them to buy the rest of your series or your other titles. For experts and speakers, the answer is also yes. You want to spread your brand and name, and an eBook is even better than just giving out your card. Use your eBook mainly as a promotional tool — not a revenue stream.

Here’s who this promotion might not work for: writers of long, literary fiction who depend on sales to make up for some of the painstaking work that went into their novel. It might also not work for historians, who also put in a tremendous amount of time and energy and whose specialized knowledge has a place in the marketplace and should be able to find a readership despite its cost.

Either way — it always helpful to experiment with different marketing tools. Dropping your price to zero might feel weird, but the eventual reward could be huge. If it doesn’t work out anyway, it’s just as easy to start charging more for your book, and go back to the drawing (or writing) board.

Have you tried this technique? What was your experience?

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  1. Great post, good advices! Very interesting, here in Italy self-publishing isn’t too known yet… so we have everything to learn 🙂
    Can I translate this post for my agency’s blog? (I’ll link author and source of course!)

  2. Some fellow authors in Lulu Connect have told me they don’t download free eBooks. However, for the most part, free is often a tremendous incentive.

    As for authors with large novels, they could publish a free eBook sampler of their work, featuring some of the best portions of their story in a coherent manner. Many mainstream authors offer such previews.

    Serialization-wise I’ve finally gotten around to publishing the first of my serial through Lulu, starting with a free entry and followed by a fairly standard price. After I’ve gauged interest in the series, I’m also hoping to release them on a consistent basis.

    Excellent article. Certainly something to keep in mind with marketing strategies.

  3. Scrilla was the way of the world. I wondered if I would ever see her again. Yessing for a living showed me that I was still maturing. I am famished for the time being, but need to propagate my sympathies outcomes provided that I do not quit learning to sell. I’ve pined for a profitability and promotional plunge. A temporal alternative to selling your books on consignment.

  4. Mother used to say “Take your time young man” and mother used to say “Don’t you rushing to get old” and mother used to say “Take it in your stride”, and mother used to say “Take this time; I live my life and reveal!”

  5. I needed to thanks for this great learn!! I undoubtedly having fun with every little little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…

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  7. Sound logical and sensible. Of course, I will give it a try on my new book, Better Than The Best. So watch out,

    Any good recommendation for ebook formatting ?

    Thanks and look forward to hearing from you guys,

    James Oh

  8. I have been contemplating offering a free sampler e-book. I’m currently working on pocket size, very short Christmas book in print. I might offer the e-version free. Thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts on this.