It’s time for my May contribution to the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop where dozens of authors post their thoughts on subjects of writing. This month I discuss the pluses and minuses of book giveaways. Are they a good idea or a fool’s paradise?
Last weekend I ran a Kindle Direct Publishing giveaway for MELTING SAND, the first book in my Miles Stevens, CIA suspense series. Hundreds of copies of the e-book were shot into cyberspace, moving it handsomely up the Amazon ranking, if only for a short period. This was my second Kindle Direct giveaway in the past eight years, each lasting two days.
I’ve provided limited copies of my books to advance reviewers, friends, and family. I’ve also run promos on Amazon and Goodreads where I’ve offered a small number of books via a lottery system. But pricing my e-book at $0.00 is not something I easily do, even for two days.
So, why do it?
Authors are divided on the benefits of offering free books. Researching the subject, I found as many writers are against giveaways as there are favor. Some of their opinions are based on empirical evidence; others on gut feel. Here’s a brief summary of what I found along with my experiences:
Reasons supporting giveaways:
- Authors need to generate interest in their work. With an estimated 600K to 1 million book titles published each year in the U.S., half being self-published, it is difficult to rise above the crowd. What better way to get your book in the hands of readers than to give them a copy? With the Kindle Direct giveaway program, it costs the author nothing, other than lost revenue, and can get hundreds, if not thousands, of copies to readers.
- Giving away one of your books may generate sales of your other titles. My hope in giving away the first book in the Miles Stevens series was it would generate interest in the others in the series, including the recent release of GONE VIRAL. I saw evidence this occurred, but not what I’d consider a “swell in sales.”
- You can build a following by asking recipients of your free book to agree to receive your newsletter or to follow your blog. My recent Kindle giveaway didn’t require additional action, but I’ve tried to gain email followers by offering free e-books in the past. Results were minimal.
- Giveaways can generate book reviews. It’s true, but to get just a handful of reviews may require giving away hundreds of books. It’s too early to assess results from last week’s Kindle giveaway, but I have received reviews from Amazon and Goodreads giveaways. A small percentage of those getting copies did review my book(s), particularly on Goodreads. (Note: Goodreads recently changed its giveaway program. My experience was with the old program.)
Reasons against giveaways:
- Giveaways cheapen your product. Why would anyone pay for your e-book if they know you will eventually offer it for nothing? If an author gets a reputation for offering free books, it could make it hard to demand a sufficient price for his/her other titles.
- Few of those receiving free books read them. We all know readers with Kindles and iPads filled with free titles that they’ve downloaded from BookBub and dozens of other sites. They will read very few of them and write reviews on even fewer.
- It’s hard to make a living giving away your time and your product. Authors spend months (maybe years) writing and editing each novel. At some point, writers need to demand a fair price for their work, or writing just becomes a time-consuming hobby.
My conclusion–When the time is right, I will offer Kindle giveaways of my older titles, particularly those that might stimulate sales of my new releases, but it is not a marketing program that I will use regularly.
To enjoy other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click HERE. Happy blogging!