Total Pageviews

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Free ebook

I read a fantastic post the other day by David Gaughran on the subject of free books.

I have always thought about using this strategy myself but always seem hold myself back for a variety of reasons. The main one being that I have seen a lot of indie authors using this technique without much success. A lot of people argue (and it is mentioned in this article) that a large proportion of people do not read free books, they just download them for the sake of it. And while my book is at such a low price already - would I see that much difference anyway?

But then I discovered David Gaughran's post and it made me reconsider: should I make my first book free for a short period of time, say two weeks? I have seen a lot of talk between indie writers who say that as soon as they make a book free, they receive a phenomenal amount of downloads.

David says that in order for this strategy to be successful you need to have a good book, present it professionally, and to have written in a popular genre. Now I know my book is presented professionally and formatted well - I think the first point is a matter of personal opinion - but I am not so sure that it's under a popular genre from the evidence I have seen so far. But I am still considering whether to make this book free in time for when I release my second one about travelling Canada. If I do decide to make it free then I hope more people will download it and then buy the second book. But then the element of self doubt creeps in and I think: what if they absolutely hate my first book so therefore decide not to buy my second. If my book wasn't free in the first place then they may have taken the chance to buy both books because of the low price. But because I have made my first one free, they have decided to read that first before making a decision to buy the next one. If the first one wasn't free then some people may read the second one first - I have written it in such a style where this is perfectly possible to do so, everything will still make sense to the reader, no matter if they haven't read the first one. If they like it then they'll probably buy the other one. I guess the only way I'll know is to do it and to stop worrying so much. I guess I'm just concerned that they'll end up liking one book more than the other.

What are you thoughts on this situation? Have you seen success yourself if you've made a book free?


  1. Great point, always on an indie author's mind.

    I think travel memoir is a pretty popular genre right now - people love to live their dream adventures through you! So, that should put eyes on your book.

    As far as selling it for free, if you're concerned about making one book free to everyone, maybe you could offer one as a bonus when someone buys the other? That will let more people know that you've got two books out there (or, for now, a second book on the way), and it will probably increase the chance that people will download both. As a reader, receiving a "bonus" kind of feels like a reward for buying a book, a 'thank you' from the author for my support.

  2. The problem is not so much the price as making your target audience aware of its price. I think most of us are stumbling around in the dark when it comes to Internet marketing. We don’t understand what we’re doing or why it works. I promote my blog more than most – I have a whole bank of sites I advise every time I put up a new post – but I could never tell you why any one particular post attracts more attention than any other. It’s all to do with key words and tags. All you have to do is look at Google Analytics and see what people are searching for that’s leading them to you. Last month 24 found my site while googling the word ‘puddle’ and they each stayed for an average of 1min and 9 secs so go figure.

    People make snap judgements. The cover suggests a travelogue (like Niall Griffiths’ Ten Pound Pom, the title suggests a British 70s sex comedy; that alone I would have thought might have garnered some interest. I have only read one book of this kind in my life and I only read that because I was sent a review copy. I’m not sure that I agree with Dana about the popularity of books of this genre. I think they are as popular as they ever were and will probably never get any more popular. They are a niche product. I read fiction. My preference is literary fiction but I can be persuaded by a free copy to have a look at the odd bit of popular fiction but I’m really not interested in non-fiction of any kind and only accept it to keep in with publishers who send me books I do like to read. Your book could be the best travelogue ever written but it’s never going to interest me at any price, even free.

    Personally I would have thought that only two keywords would be necessary to pin down your book: ‘travel’ and ‘Australia’. If I was looking for a book like that that’s what I’d type into Amazon. So I tried it. As soon as I started typing in ‘travel’ if offered me ‘travel guide’ which I accepted and added ‘Australia’ – it brought up 107 results in the Kindle store but not you. I checked your book and as far as tags go they look fine – not sure about the ‘explicit erotica’ mind, you might want to have a look at that. The words ‘travel’ and ‘Australia’ brought up 407 results; yours finally appeared on page 15 and I can tell you that I would never go fifteen pages deep looking for a book. This is a problem. ‘Memoir’ and ‘Australia’ did a bit better – 98 results – and you were on page 2. The real question is: Why was "Over There" with The Australians (World War I) - also includes an annotated bibliography on select works associated with Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand listed above you when you have reviews and it has none?

    Personally I wouldn’t reduce the price and I’m not even sure that reducing it when your book on Canada comes out would be a good idea. Would someone who is interested in Canada be interested in Australia? As it happens these are two countries that do interest me more than most but I’d rather watch a documentary about them than read a book. Novels are different. My first two novels are set in England, the next in Ireland, the next in Scotland but no one will care about that. What people care about is the writing. And that might be the case with you if you can get people interested in the you and not the locality. And that will only happen once you have a range of similarly-titled books with identifiable covers. So give it time and have another look at those Amazon tags.

  3. Hi Jim,
    Thank you very much for your comments and taking the time and trouble to do that for me.
    I've had a look at the tags and also at the 'People who bought this also bought that' section and I find it interesting that although both and have the same sort of tags - the 'people who bought this also bought that' section is very different indeed. The books found on the UK page are of a confessional/memoir type genre (some are at least, not all of them) but the books on the site are all erotica/porn books.
    I noticed your comment on explicit erotica and I wonder if I took that tag out - would I see a drop in sales especially on the site due to the point I have just mentioned.
    As for your popularity points, I agree with you - I know from the writers I talk to that this genre isn't as popular as a lot of others.
    As for the books with no reviews that were similar to mine - why should they appear first ahead of me I have no idea. I've never found Amazon's way of doing things to be the easiest to understand. As soon as I get used to one system they change it to something else.
    And finally I think you make an excellent point when you mention the difference between the two countries. I've had a fair few Australian's buy my current book and I strongly suspect they wouldn't be interested in the Canada book. And vice versa. So you make a good point - it's only if they are interested in me and not the location that they would buy both. I purposely haven't put the 'travel' genre high on the list because my book contains little of the actual factual information, rather it's more of a 'memoir' about my own personal experiences.