Yep, that’s the question.
Picture this. You wrestle your kids into clothes, strap them into the car, and drive to your local supermarket. Park. Drag the kids kicking and screaming into the front door, grab a cart, search the depth of your purse like a braille book for your immense grocery list, which, yes, still sits on your kitchen counter, and then slink your way toward the first isle…where low and behold the day takes an unexpected upswing. Thousands of item are not just on sale. They’re free for the picking. Nope, no need to pay at the register. $0.00 is your total. Have a great day!
Sounds outrageous, right?
In the digital world of books this is reality. Authors give away the manuscripts they (most of us, anyway) spent months, if not years toiling over. The pages we paid editors to smooth. The lines we paid another editor to clean. The cover art masterpiece we paid a professional artist to create. The package we paid a formatter to spin into a final product, ready for market. They give all this away for $0.00.
Why, for the love of all that’s holy, you ask?
In the beginning of the free book it was great way to move thousands of copies, garner attention for your writing, and in the end sell thousands more of your other books. But now? On digital vendor sites on any given day there are over a thousand free books to choose from. Hundreds in the romance category.
As a reader it sounds AHHMAZING. But can you read a hundred books a day? Yeah, me neither.
We have a saturated market of free books, some of which it’s sad to say are less than the prime indie standard. It wasn’t long before, to many readers, free equaled not worth the time. Additionally, some believe the multitude of free books has devalued the ebook market as a whole.
No, not all free books are the result of a newbie’s mother edited NaNo success. In fact, Serval big name, and many more not so well known, independent authors have series loss leaders. What’s a loss leader? It’s a strategic pricing method where you sell a product below its market cost to simulate sales of other products or services. So, an author with a six book series drops the first book to free, while leaving the following books at their retail price.
I have yet to put a single one of my novels on sale, much less erase all those pennies and give it away. You might guess on which side of the line I fall on this topic. I think every author need to look at their business plan and decide what’s right for them. And me? I’m having a huge anniversary sale the month of October, with three books FREE (yes, I said it) and all the rest 25-50% off! So, I may not be as firmly entrenched on the not free side as you thought, but it is a strategic plan for a limited time only.
So, to free or not to free? What are your thoughts? Post them in the comments below.
USA Today Bestselling Author