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Monday, February 11, 2013

Why Author's Make eBooks Free

You've probably noticed independent authors setting the price on at least one of their books as free from time to time. And if you're traditionally published, or not yet published, you may wonder why in the world they would do such a thing. An indie author friend of mine recently discussed using Kindle Select with me and she couldn't understand why someone would set their book to free. It's contradictory, she said. And she's right, in a way. However, there is a method to this madness.  

When you download a book from Amazon, B&N or any other online retailer~regardless of whether or not it's free or costs money~that novel goes  up in the sales ranks. With each download, it goes farther up the ranks with the optimum rise occurring when there are many sales in one day (the entire system starts over day by day so if a book sells one a day for a month it won't rise in the ranks nearly as high as it would if it sold thirty in one day of that month. VERY important key to remember!). Sales ranks are what determines the order that a book shows up in searches. Let's say you're looking for a YA fantasy novel. On Amazon's book page you click on Teens. Everything that shows up on the next page, and any more specific pages you click on (sub-genres and such) is determined by sales rank. The books that are on the main pages (getting there with the best sales ranks) get noticed and sell even more. 

For each download of a free book, that book goes up in ranks too, getting it farther up the lists and onto the main pages where it will get noticed. When this happens people see not only the free book and are more likely to download it (helping raise it's rank and supporting the whole process) but they also notice an author's name and are more likely to check out there other books. That's one way a free book can get an author more sales. Another is, of course, if the readers enjoyed the book and come back to buy the author's other titles. So, crazy as it sounds, now you know there is a method to the madness. 
That said, all this week for Valentine's Day week (and to help it's sales ranking ;) the eBook of  The Secret of Spruce Knoll is free on Amazon! I hope you'll download it and spread the word. And a huge thank you to each of you that does. :)

14 comments:

  1. That makes a lot of sense, Heather. Another benefit is that if you have more than one book published, a person might try the free book, like you as an author, and buy your other books. Congrats on your new book!

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    1. Thanks Natalie! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. It makes sense - Natalie has it right, I think it's a great temporary strategy when you have more than one title out.

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    1. It definitely is most beneficial with more than one title. Thanks for dropping by Melissa!

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    1. When handled right it definitely can be. Thanks for dropping by Bella!

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  4. As I was typing, I just noticed Bella's comment. It's exactly what I was going to type. LOL

    I agree; good marketing strategy.

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  5. Never thought about that, but I agree. That is a good strategy.

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    1. It has worked for many of the indie authors I know.

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  6. I didn't know that about how the counting starts over again each day. That's very interesting! Great post, Heather!

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    1. A lot of people don't realize that and it's one of the things that can be a decent selling book off the online radar unfortunately.

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  7. Hi Heather. Loved the article and thought I would pass it and the freebie on. I made a quick post, the link is:

    http://wp.me/p2uiv4-VZ

    Thanks for the freebie and have a good night.

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    1. That's so sweet of you, thank you!!!

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