Monday, January 2, 2012

Does giving away books equal more sales?

Honestly, I have no idea. I'm still very new to the self-publishing world (although I've been traditionally published for 4 years) and trying my best to figure everything out. Naturally, I want to earn a decent income. But, I also want to give readers something of value for their money. (On a side note, I still filed copyright. I mention this now because I've heard horror stories of people being ripped off. But, back to the subject.)

I believe in my writing. If I thought my stories were crap, I'd never try to sell them to anyone. Actually, if I thought they were crap, I'd be embarassed to even give them away. I wouldn't want my name on it.

That being said, I released my first self-published book Dec. 26, 2011, Frank and The Werewolf Tamer.

I was and still am thrilled about this new release. I set the price at $2.99. That is the minimum where I feel I can earn a decent royalty and survive and still give readers a good price. In its first week, Frank and The Werewolf Tamer sold a whoping 14 copies. I was crushed. I'd heard others say their sales started out slow, but this was depressing.

So, I decided to take advantage of the Kindle Select program I'd signed up for. By the way, I see no benefit to this program other than being able to offer your books as free for 5 days every 90 days. I may not re-enroll after 90 days. That's still up in the air.

Now, want to hear something really sad? Frank and The Werewolf Tamer has been downloaded over 600 times since yesterday morning.

I can't help but wonder if people are just not willing to pay for my work. Which is VERY depressing. Or if everyone is taking a chance on it because it's free.

My hope (and fondest wish) is that new readers will find me this way, love the book, and spread the word. Maybe by the time the promotion runs out, people will be willing to pay $2.99. Seriously, that's still cheap.

I've heard other people speculate that sales go up an average of 30% when a free book is offered. But, I don't think you can count on that. I believe that every situation is different. What works for one book (or author) may not work for another. However, in the on-going effort to pay my bills, I keep trying.

At the moment, I'm viewing this as in investment. That's advertisement that didn't cost me a thing and at least 600 people have heard my name.

If you've already experimented with free books and/or self-publishing, and you wouldn't mind, please share your results with us:) Comments and suggestions are very welcome.


Skhye said...

Hang in there, Tracey! You have an EC and NCP readership. Don't forget to tell them. And any of those releases that wind up where you listed your self-pubs will keep your self-publications in the mix. I'm in the same boat with my first releases through self-publication. I hear it takes 6 months to make a few $1000/month. And readers who like your work starting reading your backlist. So, we can't be depressed. Every purchase of one of your free books places that cover on the PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT THIS BOOK ALSO BOUGHT lists. Let those freebies have their glory! My book was free for two days. It's slowly climbing a best-seller list. And selling 5Xs more than the other 2 only available for .99 cents. So, don't let the waiting bog you down. ;) Go work on something else.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thank you so much, Skhye:) I really appreciate your encouraging words. I'm hanging in there!

And...I am working on a new project. I don't think I'm capable of stopping. Know what I mean?

Congrats on the book that's climbing the charts!

Gabrielle said...

Hi Tracey! I did the free thing with KDP Prime for three days last week for my slowest seller, Destiny Redeemed. (BTW, all my books except my first novel are indie pubbed)

Over 4000 people downloaded it for free, and the exposure was fantastic, not just for that book but for the other 5. Since it went back to $2.99, it's been selling consistently. I don't know if it will ever sell as big as my vampires, but the free promo did help get the book out there.

Indie pubbing is definitely a long range game, as far as I can tell. I've only been doing it for seven months, but that's how I've grown to see it. I only sold 150 copies of my first indie pubbed book that first month. Now that book sells 20x or more each month compared to that first month. And that leads readers to my other books, which helps them to sell.

I'm with Skhye--hang in there. :)

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thank you, Gabrielle. Very encouraging:)

Aithne Jarretta said...

Hi Tracey. ;) Something to keep in mind... those 600 downloads are a success because your newly published book is now included in the "also bought" window.

That's an advantage because it's a promo that being done for you.

KDP Select & the Bonfire has helped with my sales. Keep at it and you'll succeed.

pkbrent said...


I'm in a similar situation, Tracey. I've been experimenting with the KDP 5 free days too. I'm now only listing one book at a time as free. Plus I'm doing it for 1-2 days on the weekend, when people read more. I think it's helping me. Good luck!

Stephanie said...

I think there are Kindle owners who only read free books. If they read your book and really love it, and I mean REALLY love it, they might take note of your name and possibly, maybe buy one of your other books in the future. But honestly, I think many just download anything free that sounds relatively interesting, read the first few pages and if they don't get into it, delete it. If they do read the entire thing, they most likely do not take note of the name and just delete and move on to the next free read in their list.

But I think there are other Kindle users who are more selective. I am very selective when I buy books, even free ones. Every book I read, free or not, gets rated and reviewed on Goodreads and if I like something, I will add the author's backlist to my "to read" folder.

I'm interested to see what how the book sells after the promo period! Good luck!!

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thanks everyone for the comments! I think I may end the free promo after today and save a few days for a weekend.

Great idea pkbrent!

Btw, it's been downloaded 750 times now:)

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Guess what? After running the free promo for 2 days, Frank and The Werewolf Tamer is still selling! Naturally, sales have dropped. LOL I'm selling about 30 copies a day. But hey, that beats the hell out of 14 a week!

In my mind, this worked and I will try it again at some point. Maybe with other books:)