Fix your price and stand by it

Chris the story reading ape has a post today talking about, amongst other things, ‘free days’ for books:

Giveaway or Freebie days are great, lots of books downloaded or given away, then, when the book price returns, nothing moves and reviews from readers are scarce, if at all, even from the Giveaway in exchange for honest reviews…

I have done a few free days of my books on Amazon, and have to agree that the chance of getting any reviews at all out of it is very low indeed.

I would say that free days are effective in two ways.

  • On Amazon at least, recommendations are determined by analysing customer views and purchases (‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’). Free days are great for establishing these cross-references for new releases.
  • It’s getting very common for authors who write series of books to make the first in the series permanently free. People can then try the first in the series and decide whether they want to purchase later books.

Commenting on the above post, Loretta Livingstone says,

This is why I’m not convinced about the efficacy of free books.
They are a good idea when you need reviews, for a new book, but why would people pay for them when they know that you will do a Freebie Day again shortly?

Lorinda J. Taylor voices similar concerns:

Sales don’t pick up after a special, I’ve found. I think people tend to gobble up free books and then forget about them or never get around to reading them. I agree that people decide to just wait and the author will be sure to have another sale.

The only reason why sales would pick up after a free period is if someone influential stumbled across the book during the free period and then recommended it to all their friends. It’s very unlikely, but not impossible, and so it’s a bit like playing the lottery.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the books I keep half an eye on don’t seem to have free days. They change price from time to time, and a large reduction may encourage me to buy it. If it’s less than £1 I may buy it anyway. If it’s between £1 and £2 I will hesitate to buy it. If it’s more than that… it will have to be something very special.

It’s true that lots of free books are downloaded but not read. It’s true that people wait for books to become free. I am guilty of doing both, but also sometimes I buy books and sometimes I read books. There are a huge number of books out there waiting to be read. I’m not going to buy every single book that I may one day want to read. Most of the free books languishing on my Kindle are intended to be read at some point in the unforeseeable future. For most of them I will try to leave some sort of review, whether good, bad or indifferent.

The Story Reading Ape raises another point of interest:

Readers looking for books tend to go by their preferred genre.

Very true. It’s how I shop for books, especially in bookshops. I can be seduced into other genres, but the book had better have an eye-catching cover or an intriguing title. For new authors in a flooded marketplace, it’s difficult to get noticed, and akhenkhan says:

With literally millions of new authors and their books cluttering the market, unless they have written something which appeals to the greater majority, sadly they are destined to sit in the literary doldrums forevermore.

Take a bit of advice from someone who knows, having learned the hard way, my advice to them is simply this – write a book which will grab the attention of the market.

  • Don’t specialise when you are first starting out.
  • Instead take note of what is selling.
  • Take note of what genre is currently popular, and if you feel you can write within it, do so.

We indies have enough trouble doing our best to ignore the vicious attacks of the trolls.

Writing a book that no one wants to buy is equally annoying.

I dare say this is good advice. For myself, I’m too reactionary to write within genre conventions – which is ironic, perhaps, given my passion for vampires.

About Frank

A Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and lyrical poet with a mild obsession for vampires, succubi, goddesses and Supergirl.
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7 Responses to Fix your price and stand by it

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog and commented:
    The word is spreading 🙂

  2. I really liked the post. It was very informative. I was wondering about all this myself for awhile. What you said in the article seems to track logically. Thanks for sharing.

    • Frank says:

      It’s strange and frustrating to know people have downloaded your book and are not reading it. The goodreads Currently Reading thing is equally frustating. ‘Oh, come on! You’ve been stuck on 51% for three months now! Read, damn you!’ 🙂

  3. Thanks for mentioning me! Unfortunately, I will never write according to current market popularity, so I’m doomed to lowly obscurity until I hit just the right audience. I also never buy books through browsing around in Amazon – there are enough books out there that I know I want to read, so I simply look up what I want. That being said, I did order a book yesterday that Amazon placed on one of its “most popular” email notifications. The title caught my attention and after an inspection, I knew I had to read it!
    Another problem I’ve noticed lately is the high prices (for both professionally published and self-published works) assigned to Kindle versions. I’m not about to pay $11.95 for a e-version because I consider them ephemeral – if I really want the book, I’ll pay a few dollars more and get the paperback. Maybe that’s what they’re aiming for!
    I read your “About” page and I want to say that I have no interest in vampires, but Iphigenia – Ihat would be of much greater interest to me! The adaptation of myth in literature is one of my big interests!

    • Frank says:

      There are a lot of e-books in the £4 – £7 range that I find myself very reluctant to buy even though they look interesting. As you say, if you’re paying that sort of money, or more, you want a real book.

      Thank you for the comment about Iphigenia! 🙂 You’ve made me very happy. (My home page has an Iphigenia box with links to all the relevant posts.)

  4. caroleparkes says:

    My experience of my first free book promotion showed my book sales increased immediately after it to eight times what they were before the free promotion. Hooray! This was fantastic, but I was brought back to earth with a bang when I realised I’d only sold four book before the free giveaway (ha-ha). Never mind though, I did pick up 2 extra positive reviews which doubled my two reviews previously held. In fact the fourth reviewer helped me enormously by pointing out three occurances of a name error. I immediately proof read my book for the fifth time and republished. It’s strange how the other reviewers and I had missed this error. In the process of writing the book I had changed one character’s name and then did a find and replace search on the whole document. The original name wasn’t found in these instances because it was followed by (‘s). A valuable lesson learned by me.

    There are so many self published books being released every month that you have to do something to get your work noticed. For me the free promotion at least helped to get sales started. There were 950 “Tissue of Lies” given away during the five day free period. I know most of them will just sit in book readers waiting to be read but maybe a few will remember the title they’ve downloaded (smile).

    • Frank says:

      One day soon the world will come to an abrupt, ignominious end… and it will be all because of a copy/paste error.

      I have to agree that apostrophes are tricky things, though, always getting in the way.

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