Perma Free eBooks: Brilliant or Desperate?
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, never mind 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, then make your first book free or 99c.
What if you only have one or two books? Well, then you have a choice. Make your first book free or 99c to get it into more peoples hands or you can make it $2.99 to $3.99 until you can release more books for a larger back log. That being said. As a reader, I would never spend $3.99 on an author I hadn’t read before. On very special occasions I will spend $2.99 on a new author. But those situations are rare. Personally, I wouldn’t price the first book in a series above $2.99. When pricing you also need to consider the length of your book. While a reader might consider purchasing a 350 page book for $3.99, they will be far less likely to buy a 200 page novella for the same price.
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. Once you are well known and have an email list, you can experiment a bit more with your pricing and see what fits your production and your readers best.
Side Note: If iBooks is one of your larger retailers, higher priced books do tend to better on there.