I was reading Tara Sparling’s interesting post on free books, where she complains about authors pricing their books too low.
Amazon agrees with her. I believe that’s why they only start offering 70% royalties for books priced at $2.99 and above (under that, royalties are only 30%).
However, a common mistake for first-time authors is to price their work too high. Sure, you can ask for the same price as Steven King. But only if you write like him and have an established fan base. Until then, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to fight the obscurity that inevitably befalls us all in a marketplace where 6,500 new books are published daily… and part of that may be a free or 99c book – albeit for a short while and as part of an overall marketing strategy. Or you could do it to gather reviews, as I’ve done with Runaway Smile, which you can read for free on my blog, even though it’s priced at $2.99 on Amazon.
One caveat is that you can’t promote a book that’s already priced too low. In other words, you need to make people feel they’re getting something worthwhile. But you do need to run frequent promotions, or your book will risk entering the dreaded slush pile.
On the other hand, having the first book in a series discounted or even free makes perfect sense, as long as the rest of your series is priced at $2.99 and above.
Free vs. 99c
So, now that I’ve convinced you of the need to run discounted or free promos, you need to answer an age-old question (no, not that age-old question. The Beatles are obviously better than the Stones). No, I’m referring to which ones do better: free or discounted books?
I came across a fascinating post on Bookbub Partners, that offers a rare insight into that. The answer, turns out, is simple enough: Promos of free books lead to ten times as many downloads as those for $0.99 books.
Which Book in a Series?
However, that’s only part of the question. That people love freebies is as obvious as that the Beatles etc. But we’re running the promo to increase sales of the rest of our books, right? So, what happens to the rest of your books?
Thankfully, the post answers that question as well. Turns out that giving away the first book in a series leads to eight times more sales for subsequent books in the series.
Why not the second or third book?
As the post explains, giving away the first book in a series is the best way to build up the entire series. Once readers are hooked on the first book, they’ll be eager to find out what happens next, and they’re often willing to pay full price for the subsequent books. After all, 77% of bargain readers also buy full-priced books.
However, if you drop readers off in the middle or end of your series, they could get confused if they’re not familiar with the plot and character development. True, some of them might go back to purchase book one at full price so they can return to the book they purchased at a discount later.
Most of them, however, might not be fully invested in your story at this point. Which is why giving away a book other than the first generates a mere 3.5 increase in sales of other books in the series.
How to Cross-Sell
“Fine,” I hear you say. “If I only promote the first book in my series, though, how will I get people to hear about the rest of the lovely books in my awesome series?”
The answer is pretty simple: by adding a simple Call to Action at the end of the book:
This is the best way to ensure that readers can continue to read your story as fast as possible, thereby limiting the possibility of losing them to another title or author. In fact, authors see a three times increase in sales of other books in the series if they include links in the back matter of the discounted book!
As to the question of our limited budgets, author Effrosyni Moschoudi has compiled a great guide of places where you can advertise your free days for free! be sure to check out her entire post, as she shares both her process and results, along with a bunch of great tips.