Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do Free E-books Increase Sales?

Do Free E-books Increase Sales?

I'm trying an experiment. We hear so much about free e-books and $.99 books in the present market climate. Especially for authors e-publishing their backlist, we have to ask the question—How do readers find us? With over 70 books for sale, about a quarter of those in e-book form, how do readers know my backlist from my current titles?

For Easter week, I gave away my re-release LOVE IN BLOOM, now an e-book, with a coupon at Smashwords.com. I've done this before and had about a dozen downloads. This time a blogger who posts free books picked it up and I had over 200 downloads! But I didn't sell any of my other backlist titles there. I sold two on Amazon. My husband, wise man that he is, told me to give those readers a chance to read LOVE IN BLOOM and maybe sales would go up! To give the readers who do return to my backlist a bonus, I lowered the prices on MOM MEETS DAD to $.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. The price cut hasn't reached Barnes and Noble yet. I'm going to allow the price to stay at $.99 for the month.

Something else I did when I decided to put up my backlist was design the covers all similarly. They have an identifying arch with my name as well as my logo. Since I have titles from three different publishers, I used a different color for each publisher but all in the same style.

I'm building a following on Twitter and Facebook and enjoy posting regularly. My e-books are listed on my website and my Facebook author page. If either writers or readers have suggestions on how to help readers find those titles, I'm interested! Please feel free to comment or e-mail me. And remember, MOM MEETS DAD is $.99 for the month of May at Smashwords and on Kindle. Happy reading!



Grace Burrowes said...

I'm pretty sure free ebooks increase sales--of Kindles, Nooks, and other hardware devices. I'm wondering what will happen when the hardware market reaches saturation, and we have a very few entities controlling not only the price of the devices, but the prices of many of the books, and if not the prices of OUR books, then the prices of the books we compete with.
What interesting times we write in...

Donna Caubarreaux said...

Free ebooks will get your work to new readers. I know that I've discovered several authors whose back list I want to read.

If you should happen to break into the top one hundred books, I'd then move to a price point.

John Locke made $125k on his books, all priced at 99 cents. Yes, I've read every one. Kristen Lamb had an interview him recently in which he gave his reasons for that price point.

KRS said...

Grace--I've seen sales go up on MOM MEETS DAD a few books. I'm not sure yet if it's the promo I'm doing or the price. I worry with authors lowering prices to $.99 that we are lowering the value of the work we do. Yes, if we're lucky to hit the right blogs and readers find us, quantity will make up the price difference. But I don't see that happening yet.

KRS said...

Donna--I hope that free ebooks help. I will continue to run specials that way, especially from my newsletter IN TOUCH. On there I have a special every month. I'm trying everything!

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I feel for you KRS. I have an ebook that I was only seeing sales of a few books a day. Today, I offered it for free on Amazon. Almost 400 copies have been downloaded in ONE day. It's kind of encouraging and discouraging at the same time.

KRS said...

Tracey--Since I wrote this blog, I found out what happens when a book goes free. Readers find you! I've enrolled in the KDP Select program for this reason. Those 5 free days can make a difference. The problem is sustaining momentum and looking for the next promotion. Good luck with yours.