Thursday, February 2, 2012

They Weren't Going to Buy Your Book Anyway

One of the features that Amazon is offering with its new KDP Select program is the ability for you to list your Kindle book for free for up to five days during each 90 day period. This feature has been the subject of much discussion among authors. Is it savvy, sensible, or even fair to give away for free something on which you have spent so much blood, sweat, tears, and time? Some authors would say no--they can't afford to give away free books, even free e-books which have no production cost for the author/publisher. It is not unreasonable to expect the public to pay for their work, and they do not want to miss out on the royalties that these books would have earned. Others argue that giving away free books for a limited amount of time is a wonderful marketing tool. It gives your book exposure to a wider audience and provides a way to garner more word of mouth advertising and reviews.

Below is a video interview with Neil Gaiman on "Copyright Piracy and the Web" that addresses this very topic. Gaiman shares that in countries (like Russia) where his books were pirated on the Internet, his sales actually increased. The Internet pirates (who were essentially giving away free copies of his books) were introducing his work to a whole new audience who then became fans and purchased his works legitimately. These people would have never taken the plunge to buy a book from an unknown author, but after becoming familiar with Gaiman through a "free copy" of one of his books, they were happy to shell out some dollars--or should I say, rubles--for other books by their new favorite author.

To authors who say they can't afford to give away free e-books, Gaiman (in a nutshell) says: "You're not losing sales by doing a free promo. The people who download the free book weren't going to buy your book, anyway."

Having embraced Neil Gaiman's line of reasoning, my publishing company, Madison Street Publishing, is doing a couple of free promos this month.

I Am My Beloved's: Christian Devotionals for the Bride to Be, by Amy Hayes, is currently free on Amazon Kindle through tomorrow (Friday, February 3).

My own book, Road from the West: Book I of the Chronicles of Tancred, will be offered in a free promotional later on this month. Stay tuned for more details.


  1. Rosanne, good luck with your free promotion. I've found by doing the same that free is especially helpful if you have similar books available, or you're offering the first in a series free.

  2. I think I agree with Gaiman. It seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do if it increases sales. I mean, if they're not going to buy the book anyway, why not make it free? I know for a fact that after getting something for free (and if it's exceptionally good) I may go on to purchase more from the supplier.

  3. This was an extremely helpful experiment for me. It sold many books for me after the free period and raised my Amazon rankings significantly. There is the fact that you have to give Amazon an exclusive on your digital books for three months to do this. Not popular with B&N. Amazon is being called names. I am not a lover of any big business, as they tend to do in small businesses and are only out for themselves, but I do believe that this is helpful for the author, the little guy.

  4. Lisa, you were one of the bloggers that made me start looking into the KDP Select program. And Debbie, thanks to all your posts on the EHFA group, I've had the privilege of following your experiment and its results. Made me think that it might be worthwhile to try the same experiment with one of my own books.


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