It's time to talk about that marketing tactic so many authors find disturbing. The Free eBook. There is no right way to market your book. You need to do what you feel comfortable with. Now, lets hop back to high school economics class. If you did well, you remember the rule about supply and demand. If not, let me refresh your memory. When something is in demand producers create more of that product to meet the demand. If they are supplying 100 of these products and the demand drops to, let's say, 75, 25 will be a surplus and sent to Ocean State Job Lots.
This might be hard to hear, but there is a massive surplus of books. While Amazon doesn't share their numbers, an estimated, 1 million indie books were published last year on Amazon alone. AND that's not counting the traditionally published books or the books published prior to 2015. That's a lot of competition. Also, Amazon may have recently added a way for customers report books of poor quality, but that was not always the case. There are years' worth of bad, unedited, unfinished books on Amazon as well as other eBook sites (iBooks, Barns&Noble, Smashwords and Kobo, just to name a few). This has made some readers bitter. Nothing compares to the sickly feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize you spent money on something the author never bothered to revise, nevermind edit.
So as a new or unknown author how are you supposed to get those readers to take a chance on your book? You drop the price so it's not such a risk, that's how. I understand not wanting to give away your first book. It took a lot of hard work to get it where it is. But the value of your first book isn't in its own sales. The value of your first book is in introducing readers your style and voice and getting them come back for the second, third, and fourth books. If you want sales now, then make your first book free or 99c. If you want long term readers, get them to sign up for your newsletter in order to get the free book. You can use a reader magnet inside your paid book or you can offer the book for free through your website when the reader signs up.
What if you only have one or two books? Free pricing strategy is best when you have a larger back log which readers can buy to make up for the loss you take when giving away a book. That being said, sell a reader a book and you can get a coffee, get their email and they'll be helping you pay your bills as long as you're writing (and don't spam them). You might also be looking for reviews. If you price your book for free and pair it with a service like FreeBooksy, you'll get a few reviews out of it. This has been the most effective way for me to get reviews in fact. If you aren't in Kindle Unlimited, simply tell Amazon you have a free promo and they will usually lower the price for you. You can also set it free on other platforms and then ask your friends to report it as free on another platform until amazon changes it, then you can just ask them to put it back up after the promo is over.
Pricing your book for free is a tactic to get a result. If you aren't getting that result, try something else. Book marketing is a lot of trial and error. What works for some people may not work for you and your readers. But trying new things is how you're going to figure out how to best market your books to your readers.
With proper pricing and marketing, you will start getting downloads. The reviews will start to come in. With reviews and sales, your visibility will grow and before you know it, you will be finding success you have only dreamed of.
**Side Note** If iBooks is one of your better retailers, higher priced books do tend to do better on there.
Marissa Frosch is the head of marketing at Amphibian Press and all writes under the pseudonym Cameron J Quinn. She is the author of The Starsboro Chronicles. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, blog and her website.
Are you looking for help with your platform and book marketing? Marissa is now scheduling publishing consultations! Click here to learn more.