Authors, have you thought about offering some of your work for free?
This guest post by Caroline of Culture Coverage discusses some reasons why authors should consider offering some of their eBooks for free.
Thanks to the rise of e-books, many authors now have the chance to self-publish on Amazon or other online book services. At the same time, this open market has led to an oversaturated marketplace. There are now thousands of authors offering their books to potential readers. For first-time authors, it can be difficult to build an audience. In fact, it’s almost impossible to garner any interest without spending time on promotion and marketing. This is where free e-books come into play.
A free e-book doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality. In fact, authors put just as much time and effort into their freebies as their premium books. So why do they give it away? There are several reasons.
Reach an Audience
E-book authors don’t always have the benefit of a publishing company promoting their work. When they self-publish, they need to handle all of the marketing by themselves. While there are a few writers who are great at self-promotion, most are beginners. For this reason, giving away books is a great option because it requires little effort (aside from actually writing the book) and can reach a large audience. While there are those who never read the free books they download, there are more who do download and read. If they like it, it’s more than likely they will recommend the book to their friends and family, thus increasing the audience exponentially.
Also, free e-books offer greater accessibility across different countries. Anyone who has a smartphone can download and read a book almost immediately. While there are some issues with geo-restrictions with books only available in certain regions, Virtual Private Network services now allow people to work around them. That means greater chances to reach a wider audience.
Reduce Buyer Risk
Most readers are hesitant to try new authors. They’re not sure if they’ll like the writing style or plot. A free e-book significantly reduces that risk as it removes money from the equation. While they still will have to read the book to decide if they like it or not, it isn’t as bad as also spending $15. Readers are more willing to give a new author more of a chance if they know there’s little risk involved.
Authors are conscious of the reader’s hesitation, especially when it comes to trying something new. A free book not only benefits the readers, but it’s also good for authors as they can potentially gain a larger following.
Generate More Sales
Of course, writers don’t intend on giving away all of their books. Most offer the first book or two of a series for free to get readers hooked and interested in buying later books. Others might offer short stories related to their main work to drum up some interest. Either way, the idea is to direct potential readers back to some paid options. Even still, it’s a bargain as they’re able to assess whether or not they want to pay for more books by the author.
Receive Useful Feedback
As much as everyone might not want to believe it, nobody is perfect. The same can be said of books. There are going to be some flaws even writers and editors don’t pick up. That’s what makes reader reviews so convenient. Although not all of them will be constructive, many will offer some insight into why they did or did not like about the book. It can help with future books or even editing the current one for future printing runs.
Deepen Reader Bonds
One of the biggest reason authors offer free e-books is to reward their readers. For an e-book author, it’s all about providing the best experience possible. Even well-known authors have gone the free route with some of their books to thank their fans. Something as simple as this can strengthen reader loyalty. Even better, there’s no reason the book needs to be free forever. It can be a temporary promotion to gain interest and attract new readers. Or it can be a gift to current readers. Either way, it’s an effective way to capture people’s attention.
Most people are familiar with pirated movies, TV shows or music, but there’s just as big of a market for pirated books. As with any creative medium, authors don’t like having their work stolen. They want to earn money for the hard work they’ve poured into their books. Surprisingly, free e-books can help curb piracy.
Most readers choose the path of least resistance. If they can get a book for free or cheap, they’ll go for a more convenient, legal route than a more difficult, illegal one. If they truly like the author’s work, they’re also more likely to support the author and purchase the next one.
While some authors might chafe at the idea of giving away their books, more and more are embracing this free model. With so many books on the market right now, commanding attention is on top of everyone’s list. Free books are a great way for authors to build their community while also seeing people’s reactions to their work. Like it or not, affordable content is here to stay.
What’s your experience with free e-books? Tell us in the comments below!
About the Author:
Caroline is a freelance technology writer who also writes entertainment articles for Culture Coverage. She’s proud to call herself a bibliophile and has filled her physical and digital bookcase with hundreds of free, cheap and premium books from new and established authors.