Why do indie authors give books away free?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why do self-published authors have free books?

Almost every day I received two separate emails promoting available e-books. Some of these books are available for a reduced price, and others are available free. Well-known authors and the established publishers may run a temporary price promotion, but they rarely, if ever, offer their books for free. Why do so many self-published, indie authors, myself included, offer their books for free?

Self-published authors want to attract new readers.

Well-known authors already have a ready-made audience for their books. Avid readers are waiting for the next release. Lesser-known authors must work harder. And when you’re a brand-new author, such as myself, finding readers for what you write takes a lot of effort. One way authors, even established authors, attract new readers is to offer their book free.

Offering a book for free is a marketing decision. Authors may offer one book free for limited time, or they may have one title in their series that is permanently free. What indie authors collectively shouldn’t be doing is giving away so much free stuff that it’s hard to charge enough to support their writing.

Indie authors need to find “their readers.”

A substantial number of readers have very specific preferences for the kind of books they read. If you like action adventure, you’re not likely to read cozy mysteries or romance. New authors need to put themselves out there so that the readers who might potentially become their fans get exposed to one of their books.

Even authors who have built a group of regular readers need to continue to search for the readers who might be interested in the type of book they write. There are pros and cons to getting “typecast” for an author. Once an author is identified with a particular genre, you’re likely to disappoint their readers if they write something in another style. For an author whose name is closely tied to one category, they are more likely to have a ready-made audience for each subsequent book they write.

Authors need book reviews.

Book reviews help people decide if this is a book they would like to read. There are two types of reviewers. Professional reviewers are likely to receive a lot of books in the competition between authors for their reviews can be fierce. Professional reviews are displayed on the book’s page towards the top with the editorial content.

Reviews from readers and their “star” rating are a form of social proof. If you are writing literary fiction, having a famous book reviewer say good things about your book will help sales. For most genres having a substantial number of readers who have reviewed the book can boost the sales. Even a few negative reviews can help the reader decide whether this book is for them, particularly if the reviewer gives reasons why their review was low. One way to get more reviews is to offer many free copies during the initial book launch.

Free gets a new book noticed.

There are millions of books available right now. Each day that goes by hundreds of thousands maybe millions more get published. When people go looking for a book the search engines will display the book they think that person would want first. The popular book that is selling lots of copies will appear on page 1: the indie authors new book, the one no one is bought a copy of yet maybe ranked 67,000, and it may appear on page 3,350. Offering that book temporarily for free can bring it up in the rankings and get it noticed. Some may booksellers, by the way, separate the free books from the pay books. But even getting seen on the free book page can get an author better known.

Free promotions get the spotlight back on your book.

Once a book has been on the market for a while sales slowdown and the rankings drop. Running a free book promotion is one way to get that book back in the spotlight and arrange for people who hadn’t seen it before to notice it. Free book promotions need to be used carefully otherwise the only time the author “sells” their book is when it’s free. Some platforms limit the author’s ability to offer a book for free. This is one incentive for authors to list their book exclusively on Amazon. Books that are exclusive to Amazon can be offered free for a certain number of days during each listing period.

Perma-free Books interests readers in the series.

Authors who write ongoing series, one with a recurring protagonist, frequently set their first book permanently free or offer it at a low price to encourage new readers to try the series. If you like the characters and the author’s writing style, most readers are willing to buy subsequent books about that same character at the regular price.

Being a new indie author, I continue to experiment with ways to market my books. I think all my books are reasonably priced, but occasionally I offer one of those books free for a period. I run those free promotions on different books and often move the free deal from platform to platform. If you want to hear about new books and promotional prices including free book deals sign up for my mailing list for watch the blog for announcements.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.