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So...my idea is that I'll take a short story that I wrote some time ago, polish it up, and offer it free, or as cheap as possible (Amazon doesn't  allow free, apparently.)

 

Along with it I'd have the first chapter of my next novel, which I'm planning to publish later this summer. That way, people will read the story, read Chapter One and (maybe, hopefully) be more interested in buying the novel when it does come out.

 

What do you all think of this idea? Anybody done something like this?

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A free ebook is a common sign up incentive among authors, so I'd say you're on the right track. Also, quite a few bestselling authors have the first chapters of other works at the end of some of their books to garner interest. 

 

Best advice I can give is try it out and see! 

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Can't hurt. We'll see how it goes. Unfortunately, I can't make it cheaper than .99, at least on Amazon. Other places it could be free.

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Posted (edited)

Zee, I hate to buck the trend, but I say don't give anything away for free.  Writers have a right to be paid, and I think first off that no one reads short stories given away for free, honestly I don't.  People that read for free, just go from free story to free story.  They don't buy books from you. 

 

I say pay for advertising on Bookbub or Amazon or Facebook or something else, seriously.  You've got to get away from the mindset that giving away for free will encourage people to pay for your work.  Anyway, that's just my opinion, so I'll leave it set.  But think about paid advertising. 

 

Besides, there are already thousands, if not tens of thousands, of authors offering stuff for free.  The number of people giving away stuff for free is overwhelming.

Edited by suspensewriter
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2 hours ago, Zee said:

What do you all think of this idea? Anybody done something like this?

Using a loss-leader is a practice that a lot of indies are currently using with great success to either attract readers into a longer series or build their mailing lists. Some authors swear by making one book free, while others (like me!) make their first book 99 cents. The idea is to make the barrier as low as possible while you're attracting new readers.

 

You can use free content:

 

1. As the first book in your series. Make it amazing and be sure to leave a good hook so readers can go on to the next book. Joanna Penn has an excellent article which explains the strategy behind this.

 

2. As an incentive for people to sign up to your mailing list, as @Regina Walker says.

 

However, a loss-leader only works if certain things are in place. First of all, you must have a plan. If you only have one or two books, it doesn't make much sense to make one of them free. This is why my first book is currently 99 cents: I only have two. I'll probably drop it to free when I complete my series. The idea is to whet the reader's appetite and lead them to buy more and more.

 

Secondly, the product you're offering for free has to be really good. Because although you're not asking readers to spend their money, you're asking them to spend their time, which is a much more valuable commodity. Your product needs to stand out among all the other books clamouring for attention.

 

Third, and related to the first point, the free book needs to have a strong hook to the thing you want the readers to pay for (e.g. next book in series).

 

Finally, you don't need to use Amazon. If you join a service like StoryOrigin, which is free at the moment, there are often promotions organised by other authors. Authors within the same genre work together to promote their books to all their readers, which can expose your work to a wider audience. The only caveat is you need to be very selective about which promotions you join.

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6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Zee, I hate to buck the trend, but I say don't give anything away for free.  Writers have a right to paid, and I think first off that no one reads short stories given away for free, honestly I don't.  People that read for free, just go from free story to free story.  They don't buy books from you. 

 

 

I’ve heard from other writers (more successful than me) that people who sign up for lists for free giveaways often convert at a far lower level than those who sign up from the back matter of a book they just finished reading. But, to be honest, I’d love to have some sign ups one way or another!

 

So, you’ll probably get some people on your list, but they’ll be a lot less likely to actually buy stuff from you.

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Well, the story/preview is not actually free—you can’t offer free stuff on Amazon, and if you want to offer it on Amazon, it can’t be free anywhere else. But it’s only .99, so less of a commitment than, say, a 2.99 novel.

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