You have heard that. It never stops. There is across our indie author universe a huge outcry about authors who promote their books for FREE and/or 99¢ . The consensus of those pickle-sour notes is: Nobody is buying books because they can read all they want for free. “Where did you get that idea?”
“BookBub is a ripoff and detrimental to indies. Readers are so used to getting eBooks for free that no one expects to pay a red cent anymore.” True or False? Read on. You decide.
The campaign against free titles takes place in Amazon Author Forums, on author blogs, on Bookblogs.ning, in writer’s groups on Linkedin, Google+ and in some Facebook groups–even in eNovel Authors at Work. The campaign by authors against FREE Books drips with vitriol and sarcasm and no sales. Sneering toward authors who promote FREE titles is rife in the underbelly of the indie universe.
Here’s the gist of comments:
“I work damned hard to write a book. I’m not giving it away.”
“There are too many FREE books.”
“Readers won’t buy books if they can get them FREE.”
“Amazon is clotted with free books.”
“I figure they are giving it away cuz they can’t sell it.”
No, Amazon is NOT clotted with FREE books. If it were, it would go out of business. That is simple mathematics. Here’s the skinny. A free book is not a priced book’s competition. If an author chooses to price his or her books into infinity—fine with me. I respect those choices. But, if your title doesn’t sell—don’t blame an author who chooses to have a permafree title, or who puts a title in a free promotion or price pulses to gain exposure and a readership. And don’t blame the promoter. We hire them or not. Author choice. Each time I run a title on FREE, reviewers often comment:
“This is the first book by Jackie Weger I’ve read. It won’t be the last.”
That is the response we hope for when we run a FREE campaign. ebook readers are savvy. They will take a chance on an author on FREE that they would not otherwise. Here is why: Early in the Kindle’s life, indie authors rushed to publish less than well-edited, well composed stories. Readers got burned and gloriously annoyed. Smart indie authors revise, edit, recover, reformat and repair every single blemish we or a reader discovers in our ebooks. Note this: I pay for professional editorial, formatting and cover art services. We still find mishaps. We fix them at once so each reader has a better reading experience. Amazon requires a Table of Contents for every digital book. A year into my indie publishing experience I learned the Table of Contents is acceptable as back of book matter. I had all of my titles reformatted to move the TOC from front to back. How nice is that for the reader not to have to page through three pages of TOC before the book even starts?
Nobody is stopping an author from promoting a priced book. Go for it.
Here are the stats on an ebook published April, 2011 by an author who is happily sneering and taking snarky pot shots at authors who put titles FREE: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,889,751 Paid in Kindle Store. Honey, that book is not only sucking mud, it is drowning in a bucket of Texas Liquid Fertilizer. No reviews, either. Not a single review in three and a half + years. Golly. Readers do NOT skim the bottom of the barrel for a book. It has to float on top where they can see it. Promote it! Somewhere. Do a Rafflecopter. Take it on an ebook tour. Hire one of the two best author services to get it done: Book Partners in Crime Promotions or NjKinny’s World of Books & Stuff. Both are top tier and budget friendly.
Here is another quote from a new indie author with a single book.
“A free e-book? No thanks! I know I won’t read it. I spend enough time in front of a computer screen and like reading my books in bed. I haven’t invested in a E-reader yet.”
Oh my. The author’s book is in Amazon Select and is available Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited… All of her readers own a Kindle. Holy smokes! Folks, it is Eating Stupid for Breakfast when you diss readers who luuuv their Kindle Fires. Well, the author doesn’t have much to concern her. Here are her book stats: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,805 Paid in Kindle Store. Print edition: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,500,381 in Books.
This is the 1st sad part. The author is new. One book. She made the comment in a widely-read public forum. AND before signing off, touted her ebook with the buy link. How dumb is that? I’d walk to China before I’d buy her book or borrow with my KU subscription. Here is the 2nd sad part: That new indie has a toxic attitude. Successful savvy indies won’t network with her. She is the author of the above quote: “I figure they are giving it away cuz they can’t sell it.”
When I write these blogs, I like to give you actual facts and figures to make your own comparison so you can make the best decision for your book. So here are some Amazon stats of books that have come off of recent FREE promotions and returned to paid:
No Perfect Fate: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,437 Paid. 50 new reviews.
Pineapple Lies: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,027 Paid. 314 new reviews.
Mazie Baby: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,676 Paid. 364 new reviews.
I recently discovered one book on Amazon without a Best Seller Rating. An author always buys the first book to generate the Best Seller stats. I found the author on a Kindle Forum ranting to the heavens about free books. So I went to have a look at his title. No rating. No sales. No reviews. I don’t like myself when I get snarky. But, golly! That author did not even eat breakfast, muchless dig into a bowl of stupid. He has not promoted his title—anywhere for at least a year. I know because I checked the book’s stats in KND’s free Book Tracker. FREE books are not in the way of that title–lack of promotion is the culprit. However, the author is wonderfully vocal against FREE books. Which the author claims is the reason his book is not selling.
A free book won’t get a single download either, unless the author puts the book in front of an audience.
Promoting an indie book is work. Guess what. It cost $$$ to promote a book. However, one eNovel member has compiled an exhaustive list of promo sites that do NOT charge so much as 5¢. Get it from: Effrosyni Moschoudi .
Indie authorship is a learning curve. Smart authors educate themselves about the industry to separate the wheat from the chaff, myth from fact and misery from joy. When an author says, “I worked hard to produce my book,” I believe it. I respect that. I work hard, too. I know what it takes to produce an indie published book. I also know what it takes to produce a traditionally published book. But because I put books on a FREE promotion does not mean I work less than an author who chooses not to promote FREE. I advocate reading David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible—and more than once, because it is a lot to absorb and understand in a single reading. Gaughran is the master of indie authorship and his book dispels every single myth running rabid in our indie universe.
All books whether price or free must be promoted in order to get a title in front of readers. How active an author is in promoting, networking and developing a readership determines the success of a well-written book regardless of price or none. I am not addressing badly written, construction mishaps, sad covers, or ill-formatted books here. Those books get what they deserve from readers and reviewers. Lastly, here is food for thought: As we build our careers, we network with a community of other authors, bloggers , reviewers and by extension, their friends and followers and fans. If we sneer at one of those authors or engage in sarcasm toward the manner in which any author promotes his/her books—we lose the support of that author’s community of fans and readers. eNovel Authors at Work will promote an author who believes priced books are the only way to go. We respect the author’s choice. eNovel Authors at Work will not promote an author who denigrates how any member of this group or another manages his/her book promotions. Ain’t gonna happen. Just sayin…
I’m Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. I am not a glory hound and I am not a best-selling author. I have sold every single thing I’ve written since 1980. I’m paying my way. Writing is my day job.
This article is open for comments. Your opinion is welcome and respected, but denigrating another author’s choice or vitriol in a difference of opinion won’t be tolerated. Mostly because I own this site and I’m too old to put up with that kind of crap. And listen: If you have never put a book free and your priced books are successful–tell us how you did it. We are here to learn about success! So share.
@Copyright 2015 Jackie Weger