Indie book authors need to be marketers. In fact, we need to consider marketing before we even start writing. I’ve studied book marketing for years and, while I’ve acquired new skills, the free books idea surprised me. Why should I buy books and give them away?
You may have the same question. Like me, you may have a limited marketing budget.
“Why Successful Authors are Giving Their Books Away for Free,” an article on the Huffington Post website, explains the free approach. Indie authors typically earn higher royalties, the article notes, and giving away free ebooks doesn’t cost them anything. “Many times, free ebooks actually boost sales of print copies,” the article explains. The article goes on to say that authors who give away free books or sell them at a low price gain the ability to develop a loyal following. And a loyal following can translate into future sales.
“Why You Should Give Away Free Copies of Your Book,” on The Nonfiction Authors Association website, says profits aren’t generated by book sales. “The real money is in the business you generate as a result of your book,” the article explains. In trade parlance, you are generating “buzz.”
I have other reasons for giving books away.
Everyone likes free stuff. People gravitate toward “freebies” and spread the word about them. When they spread the word, more people learn about your book. Word of mouth is excellent advertising.
You gain name recognition. People seem to remember authors who give books away. Your name, and book genre may become the topic of local conversation, and that’s more buzz for you.
Freebies spark interest. After a talk I often a gift bag to an audience member or members who are celebrating their birthdays. The bags contain an autographed book, the publisher’s information sheet, a book mark, and my business card.
Give-aways are low cost ads. Free books are cheaper than magazine, newspaper, and television ads. A small magazine ad can cost thousands of dollars. Free books can cost a few hundred or less.
Almost free books spark interest. An author who sells an ebook for 99 cents can get thousands of orders, which add up to thousands of dollars. According to my publisher, however, you need established online connections (NetGalley, BookBub, etc.) for this to work.
You save time. Instead of creating an ad, or paying a graphic designer to create one, you order books at a discount from your publisher. This takes minutes, whereas creating an ad in the correct format can take hours.
Recently I donated copies of my four-book series for family caregivers to the local Visiting Angels. I received an email from an agency nurse. Visiting Angels is using my books to start a library for its employees. What a marvelous use of my gift!