The power of free is a proven Internet marketing technique
Whether it is games, apps or web services, free is the typical launching pad for making money from Internet-based businesses.
Sometimes called ‘freemium’, its foremost aim is to get users to try a product or service, or at least discover that it is available. Such is the level of competition on the Net, gaining attention by this means can be considered a marketing win.
Many authors shudder at the thought of giving away their ebooks, and hard work for free, but thinking in this way misses the point about how gaining traction on the Internet works. Ebooks only exist because they are a digital product. Exactly the same as an app, music track, video or game. So marketing an ebook requires a digital marketing approach and not bookstore shopfront logic. There are no warm and friendly author book signings on the Internet.
Who are you?
If you are new to self-publishing, this is a crucial point to understand. No one knows you, so getting your name and ebook out there to as many readers as possible is far more important in the early months than selling ebooks. You might sell ten copies in your first month and make $20.00. Great! But this means you only have ten readers.
However, if you can give away 1,000 copies in a month, your chances of getting retail reviews or book blogger reviews increase dramatically. If you have more than one book, you also have a better chance of making follow-on sales.
Are your ebooks in a series?
Many successful ebook authors are writing stories in a series because they are tailor made for Internet marketing. If you can get readers interested in the first book, making sales for the remaining books will be a lot easier.
Of course, one of the most effective means of using a free ebook to drive real sales is to make a series starter free.
However, getting ebooks listed for free is not as easy as one would think.
Amazon does not allow an ebook to be listed ebooks for free. The minimum price that can be set is $0.99. To offer an ebook for free, you have to join KDP Select and hand over your ebook exclusivity. And even then, you only get to offer a free ebook for five days every three months.
Making an ebook free
The only way to make a series starter free for an extended period, or permanently, is to open publish with an aggregator such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords, who will publish to Apple, Kobo, B&N and others. You will also need to publish separately on Amazon KDP of course.
Once the ebook is published, its price can then be set to free on your aggregator’s retailers.
Amazon will still have your ebook listed at whatever selling price you chose, but here’s the trick. Look on your book page on Amazon, and look for the link, “Tell us about a better price”. Clicking this link will get Amazon to apply Price Matching, so your ebook should be reduced to free.
My experience with Price Matching is that sometimes Amazon will reduce the price immediately, and then at other times it has taken the help of a few friends to keep clicking on the better price link to make it happen.
Once your series starter is free on all retailers, don’t revert to thinking that you are giving away your hard work when you see (hopefully) hundreds, or even better, thousands of people grabbing your free ebook. Why?
Because now, hundreds, or thousands of people know your name, and that you are an author who writes a great story. Then be patient, and wait for your follow on sales to arrive.