The self published writer can sell ebooks for free on online publishing companies to increase downloads. But how can this sales strategy help the writer make more money from ebooks in the long run?
Make Cash from Free Ebooks
Unless you are on Amazon’s KDP Select (explained briefly in a moment and fully in a separate article), you cannot sell your ebook for less than 99c (around 70p) on Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. The only way around this is to price your book for less (or free) on another sales channel. Amazon will then adjust the price of your ebook on their store to match. However, this process can take anything up to a few weeks which can be a clunky process.
Online Marketing Tools for Writers
You can price your novels what you like on other epublishing platforms. However, my personal experience has shown that Amazon cannot be matched when it comes to ebook sales. So if you want to price your books for free to get lots of downloads, KDP Amazon is the place to do it.
Since the launch of KDP Select, the writer can put the price of their ebooks for free on ‘special promo days,’ of up to a maximum of 5 days per 90 – a more straightforward process. Briefly KDP Select is an Amazon programme that enables the writer to earn additional income by including ebooks on Kindle’s Lending Library. Kindle owners who are ‘Prime Members’ (who have paid a small annual fee) can borrow an ebook for free (one at a time) without a return date. However, the writer still earns a lending fee, which amounts to a share of Amazon Kindle’s pot of money.
But how on earth does selling an ebook for free help the writer?
When to Sell your Ebooks for Free
If fact, there are many advantages to putting your book out for free on epublishing platforms. Firstly, free ebooks often results in lots of downloads. Lots of downloads results in higher rankings on the Amazon bookstore, more likely customer reviews, recommendations, tweets and back links to your book. Free promotion days of your ebooks can be the ideal marketing tool to getting your book noticed.
Free Downloads of your Ebook
Before offering your book for free, some factors need to be put into the equation.
If you enroll into KDP Select, you cannot sell your ebook anywhere else; Amazon has exclusivity of your book, so think carefully before enrolling.
Think about the time of year. Are more downloads likely on some times than others? The Christmas period (from my experience) has shown some of the best sales in the year. This might be due to lots of Kindles in Christmas stockings, or the dark, dreary nights. Summer can also be a good time, as beach reads are sought after. If a good time of year is due, plan your free promo days for then. Give plenty of notice on your author blog, Facebook page or Twitter. Make sure everybody who is likely to read your book aware of your book(s) promo date(s).
Think about which book you intend to offer for free. A novel that has failed to yield sales regardless of previous strategies has little to lose by being included in free book offers that could attract a new readership.
Consider offering the first book of a series (or one with a sequel) free. Lots of free downloads are likely to generate sales of the subsequent books in the series. This could entice more readers to read you book series and perhaps even start a fan base.
Selling short stories for free might be a good way of enticing the reader to sample your work. Who knows, it could result in the purchase of a full-length novel? A short story (generally) takes less time and planning than a novel. Including a short story on the free marketplace is a great way of hooking a new readership with less effort.
The 5 free promo days per 90 need not be spent at once. Consider spreading them out. If few downloads materialse after a day or so, pause the promotion and re-launch later that month.
The Best way to Make Ebook Sales
You can still offer your ebooks for free for as long as you like on other epublishing websites, such as Smashwords. This might suit the writer who wishes to extend the free offer. If the book is included with the Premium Catalogue, the free book will seep into other e-pbublishing platforms Smashwords ship to, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple and Itunes. As previously mentioned, Amazon will match this free offer without the writer having to join Amazon Select to do so.
When Not to Offer your Book for Free
Think again about offering your book for free if your book has yielded good sales generally. Make sure the free offer yields returns in some way, such as a promotion tool for a book series; it would seem pointless to offer your book for free if sales of your book are bringing in healthy royalties.
Tips for the Self Published Writer
Simple guide to Amazon's KDP Select
How much should I charge for my novel?
Practical advice on writing a novel
Writing scenes for novels
Organzing your book speech
Saturday, 21 January 2012
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