Thu 13 June 2013

To Giveaway or Not to Giveaway? That is the question

Posted by. James Jackson This article was posted in Self Publishing, eBook Marketing and tagged with Free Ebooks, marketing, Ebook Giveaways

Free ebooks and your marketing strategy.

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This question not only plagues writers, but all artists, especially those who make a living from selling their creations.  When it comes to eBooks, there are quite a few opinions about 'giveaways' or 'free ebooks'. Some folks swear by the philosophy, stating that by giving away a whole pile of eBooks it can increase readership.


For example; Smashwords runs a yearly 'Read an eBook week' promotion in March. I like this quote from the smashwords blog.

"Each year, the event breaks sales, download and traffic records for our web site. More than a couple times, it crashed the site as thousands of readers overloaded our servers by stocking up on eBooks like there was no tomorrow. Each year, it's a great test of our infrastructure."

Followed by my favorite line.

"Interestingly, although site sales drop off in the weeks after the sale, they always settle in at a higher average rate than before the sale. I think what this means is that the event brings new fans and eyeballs to Smashwords authors."

So there we have it in a nutshell. Many authors who use this promotion have seen an increase in overall sales. Before you ask, no, I have yet to participate in this promotion, and here is the reason why. I quote from the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions.

"You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book"

Thus if at any time any eBook is set at a point lower than Amazon's, they can price match. Please note this is not automatic, they may, or may not do so, at their discretion.

While we are on the subject of Amazon, they do have a great program called KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing", but again it has a catch.

"Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or a book that is substantially similar), in digital format in any territory where you have rights."

Thus by electing KDP the writer can't sell their eBook anywhere else, and don't do any outright giveaways or it may suddenly be free on Amazon as well.

I do plan to enroll my next eBook, 'Colony', into the KDP program when it's ready. This will be more of an experiment than anything else, to see if it really does provide greater exposure for my series.

Have I confused you all yet? OK, now back to tackle the core of this Blog, Giveaways. Be mindful of giving away your work, especially if your efforts are also available on Amazon.

For me the strategy is to price point my works, then leave them be. I occasionally offer coupon codes, but ask folks to perform tasks, such as 'Like and Share' on Facebook, in order to receive them. Thus my eBooks are not given away for free, but rather are a reward for a task performed.

This has the added benefit of not lowering the posted price, thus meeting Amazon's strict guidelines.

Even with all of these steps in place all eBook promotions, no matter what they are, should have an end date. This allows the writer/artist to maintain control over their work.

I performed an experiment with my short story, 'Johnny's Jaunt' at its release. Prior to listing it on Amazon I posted a coupon code on Twitter which gave folks a 100% discount at the Smashwords site. The result was eighty downloads in one day. When it comes to comparing sales to 'Pythos', the second short story of my series, you may be surprised. Both short stories have very similar actual sales, and 'Pythos' has not had any such discount!

I have touched on this before in Why Write a Free Ebook, thus have made this brief.

Another promotions idea I run, is to have a 'secret code' at the end of each main novel. This code will unlock a readable version of the related short story on my website. I am finding though, that many folks are simply paying the 99c price tag instead. Folks thus enjoy the ease and convenience of having the short stories in their libraries without any fuss.

Well folks, I have barely touched the topic, but I am sure we will revisit this volatile question again in the future.

Take it easy mates.

James Jackson