It’s no secret that the internet likes free things. Selling an e-book at even a modest price when countless volumes of free reading material are out there can be a tough sell, even more so for authors who are still relatively unknown. But like all good marketers, a savvy author knows to take advantage of their potential audience’s preferences. If an e-book with a price tag isn’t gaining interest, sales and download patterns on sites like Amazon and Smashwords suggest the next step to take off that price tag and offer it up for free.
It seems counterintuitive to give away something for free, especially for authors hoping to make some money off their hard work, but as Publisher’s Weekly explains, free-sample books can be a surprisingly effective way to draw reader attention and raise sales for future books.
The key to this marketing tactic is trust; by getting a reader invested in one book, the author earns their trust that the next book will be equally engrossing, making it more likely the reader will be willing to spend money on another e-book. It’s also a great way to turn heads; a free book gets as much as 41 times more downloads than a book with a price, and all that translates to more eyes on the author and a greater chance of becoming known.
It goes without saying that the success of the marketing will only carry a book as far as the quality of the book allows. While free e-books undeniably get more views, return readers are not a guarantee. To ensure people will buy future books, authors will need to bring their absolute best, sharing a book that offers something new, memorable, and of the highest quality to get reader attention and keep it. A decent book may get downloads, but a great book gets fans. Even for authors who only have one book, having an exceptional free e-book available is an excellent way to stir up interest for future projects—and the power of word-of-mouth is no mere trifle. Readers love to share works they particularly enjoy with others. Positive reviews and discussion goes a long way toward amassing fans looking forward to seeing the next book’s debut.
Free marketing takes time, skill, and a great deal of patience, and the competition for an audience is tougher than ever. No single marketing technique is a guaranteed success, but any marketing is better than none. For the author struggling to turn heads, this could be a valuable first step out of obscurity, opening up more opportunities for future works.
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