Should it be free?

Frequently, I see e-books for free for a limited time or longer on Amazon. Some of these books are downloaded enough times to earn a ranking in the top 100 e-books in the Free in Kindle Store category.

Some authors will give away e-books for free in hopes that readers will be interested and perhaps buy one of their other books for money. Or maybe they are just feeling generous or their sales are lagging and they want to promote their work. Or the free e-book may be a new release, which the author hopes will become hot if he offers free downloads. There may be other reasons as well.

Free e-books are great publicity and combined with good reviews can make a book successful. However, if one's book is worthy of a price tag, why undervalue one's work?

For example, if one offers a $3.99 e-book for free, is one not actually giving away $3.99 to each of those people who downloaded the book? If one's book reaches a thousand downloads, has one in fact given away approximately 70% of $3990 in royalties which is $2793? Is that good marketing?

It could be argued that one wouldn't sell a thousand e-books if one kept to the higher price, but then one would have to consider the quality of the work and other reasons the book may not have sold.

One can't go into Chapters or another bookstore and get a book for free. One can borrow books or e-books through the library system, but I'm pretty sure the library paid something to carry that book.

Maybe it's not such a hot idea to offer one's prized work for free.


Malika Bourne said...

You made some interesting observations tha I don't know the answer to. I had read something that I can pass on my take.
The internet has changed so many things. The new technology has put many craftsmen out of business.
No one is going to look for abook that they don't know exists. the bi time reviewers, I hear trhow precious books sent to them for review in the the trash. Some resons I hear is because they don't like the publishing company. There are trciks to get a reviewers attention tho'.
since authors need reviewers to get those entising reviews out they they do give away their e-books in exchange, hopefully, for a good review.
Here is the other thing why I have read they give away ebooks which doe cost printing expence. When an author sends out the highest books in a 24 hour period they give the honor of being a 'best selling author'.
I know this; just because I had a well written book on doesn't mean anyone who buys books is going to even notice it. I recently pulled my novel, for now, becasue it cost me to have it sit there.
I do see your point about under valuing your work. I just had to share what I know others are doing and my take. It is something to think about.

Sandra Yuen MacKay said...

Thanks for your insightful comments, Malika.
I think there is a difference between giveaways of books for reviews and giving one's book free to everyone. However, I do agree to be claimed a best selling author is great.

Jane Robinson said...

Interesting topic. I am an artist (visual) and have so many people, non-profits and the web asking for free artwork. Some are great causes, others scams and most believe all I have to do is "paint anothe one" as if there is no "cost" to me - which translates to the artwork produced has no value. I wonder why people believe artists, musicians, dancers, writers, etc - should give away their work when they won't recipricate. I will tell EVERYONE that your company built my swimming pool if you will donate it.

The web brings another issue into the topic. Getting noticed out there in the web cosmos is a difficult thing. People will not sign up for your newsletter, etc without enticing them with something of perceived value. As mentioned above your creativity is not enough for them.

Sandra Yuen MacKay said...

Thanks for commenting Jane.

I agree! So many things go into creating a work. It's not just the time spent painting or writing but the years of training and experience that go into the work. I like your swimming pool example, well put!