What’s with the free books?

One of the things people often ask indie authors has to do with book pricing. They wanna know what’s with all the free books. The thought is that if an author sells a book for $.99 or (gasp) gives it away for free, it’s because they don’t think the story is worth much. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Book discounts are a marketing tool that’s used to increase the success of books. Why does this work?

  • When you’re a new author it can be difficult to get people to try your book when it’s priced higher. readers don’t want to take a risk on an unknown commodity. Lots of authors complain about this, but complaining doesn’t change the facts. Pricing your book lower during your book launch will get more sales and hopefully, more book reviews.
  • Lots of authors employ the book funnel technique. This works best for authors who write series. Say you’re Patricia Cornwell and you’ve written the series of books about medical examiner, Kay Scarpetta. Now say, instead of publishing with a NY publishing house, you’ve chosen to self-publish. The Kay Scarpetta series currently has (let’s say) three books. They’re not selling very well, even though people who read it say they’re excellent books. So you decide to offer the first book in the series, Postmortem, as a permanently free read. This will entice more readers to give Postmortem a shot. And you know what’ll happen if they like it? They’ll go back to Amazon and buy more Patricia Cornwell books…at full price. The free book is just to get them in the door; get them hooked. Once they’re hooked, they’ll buy more.
  • Lower pricing at the time of a book launch can give your sales a huge boost, which can lead to lots of book reviews. When this happens, Amazon will start advertising your book. This is a good thing. Once Amazon sees you have good sales and they start promoting your book, this will further increase your sales. By this time, you may have returned the book to its regular price, so you’re now making more money per book sold. You know what else? The great sales position and number of positive reviews will help readers who aren’t familiar with you feel more confident purchasing your book at full price.

So indie authors aren’t being stupid when they sell their books at ridiculous discounts. It’s all part of a well-thought out marketing plan to increase their overall books sales.

Happy Reading!

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