To Give or Not to Give...
An interesting question was asked two days ago. I wanted to write about then but thought better to really sit and think on it. It opened up for me the reality of what we, as authors sometimes do not think about. The question asked seemed simple enough but after two days of deliberating, well, the jury is still out on this one.
Do we, as authors, trying to sell our books to people, actually hurt our selves and sales when we offer our books for free? I read a blog that talked about this a little. The blogger wrote that in a market that is hard to sell already, the offer of freebies adds to the loss of sales for other authors.
The reason we sometimes offer books at little or no cost is in the hopes that some will take and read and then pass on the book. After a short period of freebies, the book then has a price-tag on it. Does this strategy work? So far, for this author, it has netted very little. I have as many takers of my books with a price as the one that does not. That doesn't really answer the question but it does say that in some instances, to sell or give away reaps the same end.
I have no doubt that the economy today has had an huge effect on sales and that placing a sign that says free is going to get more looks than a price tag. We are a people that search for bargains and take as many as we can. We will even take things, not yet knowing what in the world we are going to use it for, but taking it because it says "Free." When you see advertising on t.v., everyone is offering a "Second" one free, if you order NOW! Free is definately a draw for most anything that is available but going back to the original question, does giving a book away free hurt the sales of writers trying to market their books? Probably, yes.
I search for marketing stratedgies and will use what seems to be the most likely to sell my novels. There are so many different avenues a writer can use but not all of them net sales. One woman wrote a half dozen novels, saturated the market with them, selling them for nearly nothing. She has sold a record ammount of books this way. I set my 6 novels out and look for sales like every other author. The right look, the right moment and sales are there. The same may be if they were all free except that I am paying bills with my writing and FREE does not pay the bills.
I am reminded of a book signing I was invited to join. It may have in fact answered the question with out my even realizing it. Along with me and my books, the local library was there. They were giving away hundreds of books from a table not 12 feet from me. I watched as people wandered past my books, waiting to be sold, and found their way to the sign that said Free books. I sold books that day but no where even close in volume to those that were given away by the library. Do I think them being there effected my sales? Absolutely!!!! I watched the titles going by and saw suspense novels, ghost stories, thrillers... oh wait, that is exactly what I write and sell. Hmmm???
Printed book sales have suffered hugely since the release of the Kindle and Nook and any other E-reader that is on the market. Moving my novels to the kindle and smashwords and Amazon was a strategic move I deemed absolutely needed if I was to compete in this market. What the magic word is to open the doors to big sales, I have not found yet. I am open to any one that does know. What I do know is that freebies are a two edge sword, both sides sharp and ready. They can both help and hurt the writer today. It really depends on how it effects You, as an individual.
On a foot note, the same question can be asked of bloggers that write short stories or articles of interest. Are we hurting ourselves every time we write fro free? Are we giving away something for free that could be bringing in an income for us. I love to write and I love to be read but still, I do wonder how well sales would be for my short stories I write monthly. Do I post them for free or do I put a price tag on them.? That is a fantastic question I hope to have answered soon.