For the month of December–with bonus posts on November 30 and January 1!–I am delighted to welcome a wonderful assortment of guest bloggers to take over the helm. Please enjoy their generous contributions to the blog this month. My own bloggery will resume January 2. I wish you and yours happiness and health this holiday season. Please note: comments are disabled until my return.
Putting your book up for free – is it worth it?
Free!! Zilch! Nada! Nothing! Everyone likes free! Am I right or am I right? Well what if you are the supplier and not the demander? That kind of changes things…
If you are anything like me, you were hesitant to put your book out there for free. I mean, I don’t think any writer writes to get rich, we all just hope to be the next J.K. Rowling. I write because my characters tend to keep me awake at night, nudging me to tell their stories, the bastards. We, as writers, write because it is part of us; it’s in our blood. LIKE IT OR NOT.
So why in the blue hell would I want to sell myself short aka for free? Marketing, pure and simple. Get your name out there! There are thousands of books that are free so why would anyone pay money for your book? If you are just starting out, you pretty much have to rely on friends and family which can only go so far. You have to reach beyond people who will lie to you about the quality of your story (sorry, it’s true). Even if you get bad reviews, they could be helpful in making you a better writer in the long run. It’s necessary to build up your audience and create a buzz about your specific work. If it is a tiny little baby bumblebee, that’s ok! It’s a buzz nonetheless! Hook your readers for free then reel them in to (BUY!) your other books!
Since I have six ebooks in cyberspace- one for free, five for sale- I listed my oldest work for free on smashwords.com and barnesandnoble.com. (Amazon is a tough nut to crack about price matching, I have found.)I am hoping that this little freebie, a contemporary romantic novella that I wrote a few years ago, acts as bait for readers. If I am super lucky, they will buy my other novellas or even better, my longer, more expensive historical romance novels. In the span of three weeks, I have almost 300 downloads, 60 Facebook related likes and a handful of reviews. While this is great, the harsh reality of being a “no name” author is that putting your book up for free guarantees nothing. Sure you might get more downloads, but that doesn’t mean that you will get more sales for your other books automatically or get more reviews.
You have to ask yourself, how much will I make if I leave on my $0.99 price tag? Internationally, I make 35%, so about 35 cents for every e-book sold. How many ebooks will I sell in the next month? A couple? Maybe? Let’s face it- I’m a nobody and most of my friends and family already have this item. Nearly 300 free downloads or two 35 cent purchased downloads? See the gap? And really, what the heck can you get for 70 cents? One singular piece of candy at 7-11? LAME. Ooh, maybe a four year old gumball or a sticker of Kelly Kapowski out of one of those vestibule machines! BIG DEAL.
Listen. When it comes to writing, you have to be in it for the long haul; there’s no magic formula. Sure, some people get ridiculously lucky, but I bet there’s a stack of rejection letters under their bed or ten other novels in a trunk somewhere that didn’t hit the NYT bestseller list. For every successful writer, there a five thousand million people just like us.
So DO IT. Put your book out there for free! I recommend that you put a time limit on it so you can review your position. A little word of mouth and you could be the next great thing (you never know!). Book deals, cars, trips, adoring fans, stalkers, movies based on your novel… Seventy cents is worth it to get your name out there to hundreds- possibly thousands- of people, don’t ya think?