Free ebooks have always been, well up until now anyway, a fair means of attracting attention to a new book or new author. It is something I have done myself many, many times.
However, in recent months the free ebook frenzy has gone from being a semi-useful marketing tool, to now being a complete and utter waste of time. When your book is offered for free, and is up against over 4,000 other books each and every day that are also free, what is the point?
I read this week of an author who was extremely pleased to have had over 25,000 downloads during a few ‘free’ days. The net result in sales two weeks after this? None, zero, zip, nil, none. When I did the same thing late last year, I gained over 100 sales during the first week after just over 1,000 free copies were downloaded. When I last did it in September, I had 25 sales in the first week after 15,000 free downloads.
It’s no surprise that the effectiveness of ‘free’ ebooks is declining – almost to the point of being totally ineffective and even counter productive. As with many other marketing ‘tricks’, once everyone is doing it, it isn’t a trick anymore. My honest opinion is that free ebook giveaways are in all honestly, a marketing tool to sell e-reading devices and not to sell books. Why does the iPhone sell so well? Free apps in their 10s of 1,000s of course.
So if free ebooks days are ineffective in generating new sales, what can you do?
Consider having one free ebook all the time and make sure you ‘plug’ your other books just after the book credits. Make sure your books are listed at the end with links to where your books can be purchased. If you don’t have a free book, write one! It doesn’t have to be more than 30,000 words. Just something that you can use to show off your writing skills and then to plug yourself. Update it regularly by perhaps adding reviews you receive for other books.
Make it free on all platforms, and Amazon will apply their ‘Price Matching’ to it after a while and make it free there also. Give it away on your blog or website. I have even loaded my free ebook up onto Bittorrent in .mobi and .epub formats and it is being downloaded about 300 times a day now.
So my advice is to stop giving away your ebooks that are only helping to sell e-reading devices, and start giving away an ebook that will help sell your own books.