Article by Vicki Lucas
It’s hard to give away something valuable. This is especially true when you are a self-published author. You believe you have created something out of sweat and tears that is going to bring you money. So, you boldly upload it to Kindle and wait for the whole world to buy.
But the book doesn’t “take off.” No one buys it. You’re happy for the $3.00 a month you’re making, but you need actual money to make a career out of it. You ask others for advice. The main thing people say is… “Give it away for free.” If you’re anything like me, you’ll resist the advice for several months. I have two words for you based on my experience.
Giving your book away for free goes against the grain. It’s difficult. There are all sorts of reasons not to give it away for free. Do any of these sound familiar? I spent two years working on Toxic. I deserve the money. It’s worth a whole more than I’m selling it for already. You’ve heard the excuses. You might have even made them.
On a whim, I decided to put it on Kindle for free for two days. Since it was a quick decision, I didn’t advertize it too much. I tweeted it. I put it on different places in Facebook. I contacted a handful of web pages that have sections for free e-books. That’s it. Looking back, I see so much more I could have done, but honestly I wasn’t expecting too much to happen with it. I thought I’d get about a thousand downloads and probably no sales.
No one was more surprised than I was when the tally rushed past 100 in the first hour! In fact, by the end of day two, I had 1,455 downloads! Yes, they are all free so that means I don’t get a penny (until they want the sequel, that is!). But something amazing happened after that. My sales have skyrocketed. I’ve gone from a very small trickle to a medium trickle. I am by no means rich, but I have enough earnings to buy a large pizza, and let me tell you, that pizza is going to taste awfully good. I’ve recently read that for every three you give away, you sell one. So be generous.
It’s been weeks since I offered Toxic for free, and the sales continue. They’ve slowed somewhat, but at least they are steady.
So, thank you so much to those who have supported Toxic and given it a try! I cannot say how much it means to me to see those numbers going up. God is good! I truly hope that you enjoy reading it. I’ll be watching the reviews to see what you have to say.
Oh, and another cool thing. I noticed that fifty-four of those copies went to people in the United Kingdom and four went to people in Germany. I am now an international author! And I’m dying to go for a book tour. If you’re interested in hosting me, email me and let’s chat!
Thanks again for the support. You guys are the best!
Have you given away an e-book? What was your experience with the give-away? How are sales now?
I have always struggled with the question “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology…only to find myself with no desire to work in that field. I switched careers to Teaching English as a Second Language and obtained a Master’s from Seattle Pacific University. Thankfully, I found joy in the classroom. Teaching at universities and community colleges gave me eleven years of incredible experiences, remarkable coworkers, and unforgettable friends from many different countries. However, the distant mountains began to call, and I responded, not knowing where I was going or what my purpose was. After a year and a half of traveling through the quiet places that are left in the world, I settled in Montana with my husband and my dog. I have begun to write the stories I heard on the wind.
Connect with Vicki on her webpage, Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.
Opening photo by Murray Conrad.
13 responses to “E-book Sales – Up and Up! By Vicki Lucas”
TG was put on a free promo by my publishers before the free and paid lists in amazon were separated, a few years ago – there were over 60,000 downloads of TG — and although most were free, some of those I was paid for, receiving the biggest royalty check I have yet to receive–one that made me gasp — I say “yet” because there’ s hope it’ll happen again of course *laugh* I only wish I had known what was what then – I was a debut author and didn’t know squat about ebooks or how I should tell people about them – I sort of hid it! Yup, I didn’t tell but a handful of people . . . omg! stupid me! I should have ridden that wave! I mean, TG was No 1 over The Help for at least two days — and even when it went off free and onto paid, it hovered in the top five — yeah, I should have could have would have, would not have ignored it had I understood.
Wow, Kat! That’s big. And over The Help! Come to think of it, your TG (and sequels) would make a good movie – you should look into that!
That’s an amazing story, Kat! Congratulations! I love how you used the word “yet” because now that you know what’s going on, you can do even better! Good luck in the future!
one can always dream of doing better (without spamming my friends, family, and readers -now, aye, that’s the rub!) 😀
Giving my book away is great: 1) Not only does the “getter” feel good about a free book, but the “giver” is rewarded as well, just in the joy of giving. 2) Gets my book more exposure. 3) Creates a buzz, is good karma and boosts sales as well. What’s not to like?
I agree, Robbi! I think that’s why I like it so much. Everyone ends up happy. We need more of this in our world.
My friend who has gone Indie told me a similar story just last week. She released the third book in her series, and it was slow going. Then her ex-publisher released the others on e-book, the first in the series for free. She said it was amazing the change it made. Congrats on the increases sales and enjoy your pizza!
Thanks, Lara! Congrats to your friend, too. We’ll all have to share a piece of pizza in celebration sometime!
I would love a “free” pizza. I don’t expect to make a stellar living from my writing (like S.K.), but I am looking at the Big Picture. If I give away one collection for a bit, then maybe the next collection might just jump off the e-shelves. And honestly, I give away a lot as it is – free advice, free blog, free mentoring, etc. If a few days of freebies boosts book sales overall, then it’s a win.
This is totally in synch with what I’m hearing from various digital publishing experts lately. The power of a free ebook to increase your visibility, add to your mailing list, etc., is apparently enormous.
How long did you offer it for free? Was that part of the Kindle Select program?
Elizabeth, I offered it free for two days. I’ve read a lot saying that you should only offer it for one or two days at a time. And, yes, I use the Kindle Select Program. It’s important to contact sites that promote free books and let them know about your promotion as well. Have you ever tried it before?
No, I haven’t yet, but I’m going to get my feet wet soon with a short e-book just to get the technical stuff down. I don’t write fiction, so it will be interesting to see if the free offering holds true in both genres. I suspect it does.
I would think non-fiction might do better than fiction. I think it sells better overall, but I can’t remember at this time. I’d love to hear how it goes for you!