Amazon has an arrangement with publishers whereby it can agree to give a book away for free in order to generate cross-sales. Are you an established traditionally published author with a back-catalog? Chances are that Amazon will give away one of your first books for free in order to generate sales of the other books. But you and me? Sorry, ain’t going to happen. We have to stick with the $0.99 model and hope we can generate sales that way. Some authors have tried to beat the system by giving their book away on Smashwords in an effort to force Amazon to lower their price too. Doesn’t work. You can even try it on Apple’s iBooks. Still doesn’t work for Amazon. Interesting.
So the question is, does giving your book away really help to generate sales? I guess the short answer is yes, it does. If it didn’t then people wouldn’t do it. But, and here’s the rub, how many of those free downloaders will never read your book? I know personally that books that are free are generally bottom of my reading pile. If I pay $0.99 for a book then I have a vested interest in reading it. But let’s say 10,000 people download your free book and just %5 read it, that’s still 500 first-time potential purchasers of your other books – not a bad marketing campaign.
Of course, if you have only written one self-published book to date then giving it away for free is not very attractive for you anyway. Why write it in the first place? The system only works when you have several books to sell. Another nail in the coffin of first-time authors. Well, no one said it was easy becoming an established first-time author, did they?
Us Indie authors will continue to try to beat the system and get our books out there in every way we can. I am trying hard to build a catalog of books so that people understand I’m not a single book author; I’m in it for the long haul. Becoming established takes time, so stick at it, break as many rules as you can and just keep doing what you do best – writing. One day Amazon may give one of our books away for free too. In the meantime, please buy one of my books on sale at $0.99 and spread the word!
UPDATE: Please read my later post HERE