Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Free on Amazon" Should you or shouldn't you?

Is Free the new .99? .99 ebooks don't get the attention they did a year ago since so many are listed at that price. With zillions of ebooks flooding the internet, how does one little book get noticed?

Recently WiDo Publishing did free promotions on their titles that are in the KDP Select program, which allows a book to be offered free for five days during its 90-day cycle on the program. In WiDo's experimentation with price adjustments and free promotions, it's the Free that makes the most money, while .99 is the throw-away.

How can "free" make money? Free for five days in a row, which is  how WiDo did it, can be quite profitable. Once the free promo ends, the exposure brings downloads well beyond the book's previous sales levels.

For instance, my book Farm Girl, which wasn't selling well on Kindle, had 18,588 downloads during its five free days. It got ten new reader reviews, all positive (yay!) and then continued on to 500 sales in the two weeks following the promotion.

It may continue selling well, it may not; but at least the little farm girl got some exposure and sales that she wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Since she was lucky to get five downloads a week before, we're talking 100 times the traffic. For an e- book that's not doing much, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing a give-away. Print sales of Farm Girl also increased, as did ebook sales of Uncut Diamonds.

WiDo found similar numbers with its other free promotions, although not as extreme. Sales and rankings increased with the end of every free cycle. While some continued to climb, others returned to their pre-promotional ranking numbers. Price didn't seem to matter. Two books that were given the .99 price tag didn't sell any more after the promotion than those priced at $3.99.

Should you or shouldn't you take advantage of KDP Select's five day free option? I would say "Most definitely." Because Free can make money for a book that isn't making any, and it can make even more money for one that is.

Has anyone else taken advantage of Free on Kindle? I'd love to hear your experiences.

33 comments:

  1. That's good to know. Thanks for doing the experiment and getting back to us with the results.

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  2. Most interesting! It's counter-intuitive really.

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  3. Wow! That's great. Makes sense, too. I know I'm more likely to buy something new at Costco if they're giving away free samples of it. Same concept, I suppose.

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  4. I've taken advantage of it for a novella I wrote, and I'd say it's definitely worth it.

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  5. Brilliant news about Farm Girl!! I say if it works, then it works - go for it!! Take care
    x

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  6. Thanks for sharing - So far, I've heard only good things about the Kindle Free program.

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  7. Wow! That is great news! I am so happy to hear that the strategy worked.

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  8. Glad to know that your "lost leader" strategy is working. If it sells books, it's good for the publisher, and the author.

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  9. Good to know the freebies concept is a winning one. Congrats on how well it boosted sales of your book.

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  10. Yes, I've often wondered if the whole .99 cent thing had run it's course.

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  11. You know my experience. 3000 downloads of my poetry book POETRY book! It's continued to sell after that at 99 cents. It didn't sell AT ALL before I did the freebee. PLUS, String Bridge is constantly selling too since I did it! If you've got a back list, you should do it. Because not only will your free book sell afterwards, your other books will too. It's excellent exposure.

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  12. Wonderful post and most interesting. Thank you.

    PS: Boogie, boogie, boogie

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  13. What a great idea. I agree with you Karen. If the book's not selling and free for five days gets it in the hands of readers who read it and most likely tell their friends about it; then free for five days is definitely a good thing.

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  14. I think in terms of exposure for future novels then it is certainly worth it.

    Glad it worked for you, Karen.

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  15. Right now my publisher said they won't be doing the Select program since revenue from other sources is consistent. Glad yours did so well though!

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  16. Okay I'm convinced. The argument for limited free downloads sounds reasonable. Of course I have no actual experience, but having read this it might be something to consider for the future.


    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  17. I'm interested in this. When I have my third book ready for release, I'm thinking of doing some free days for the first book.

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  18. Karen, thanks for sharing your experience. I'll be trying this with The Brevity of Roses as soon as I get my new cover up.

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  19. Owww, this is interesting... I'll have to think about this.

    Jai

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  20. Brilliant!!! Also, this benefits writers who have a complete series. First one is free, it draws them in, and then price the rest.

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  21. That really is an excellent strategy. its always good to be ahead of the game.

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  22. What interesting statistics! I'm glad your book has had such good results.

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  23. All I want to say is that I look forward to reading your other books, too. Take care.

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  24. I agree, you have nothing to lose if sales aren't doing well. It's problematic if everyone is doing it though, isn't it?

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  25. It's interesting to see that numbers. I'm so happy for you that it boosted sales.

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  26. One of the problems about offering a book free, however, is the potential that "free" has for attracting the one-review haters, who will bash a book for no apparent reason. A couple of these negative reviews can hurt subsequent sales.

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  27. I'll be on the lookout for more of these "free on Amazon" books, as they're an excellent introduction to new authors! Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing more of you during A to Z! Julie

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  28. I don't know if free is always a good idea. But that might just be me. I say if it works, do it. :-)

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  29. I tried doing the same with KDP Select, Karen, and saw a similar shaped graph to yours. If you're getting those good reviews out of it I'd say it's definitely worth it.

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  30. Thanks for sharing, Karen. I've been wondering about all the free offers.

    For those of you who haven't read Farm Girl, it's a wonderful memoir. I really enjoyed it. :)

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  31. It works. That's why everybody sells 99¢ hamburgers.

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  32. Good informational post, Karen. Something for me to consider for the future.

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  33. That is VERY interesting! Give a little to get a lot...

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