I have been absent for a spell...house buying is some intensive stuff. Did you miss me...or are you scratching your head and asking yourself, "Was he gone for a week?" Well, I will be in and out these next couple of weeks (now is a good time to send a guest post if you have one) as the whole moving to the new house thing comes on full tilt. But today I wanted to swat a few pinatas. So join me...won't you.
First off, this is not directed at any single individual. I am making generalizations and using a mish-mash of examples. A few trends in some of the social media conversations catch my eye every so often and I feel the need to post a rebuttal. One is the concept that free e-books are destroying the world. Now I can personally attest to the fact that, if used properly, they can be an effective marketing tool. The first time I ran Zomblog on one of those promo deals, it gave 10,000-plus people a chance to decide if the series was one they would like to continue. They did...and three months later I quit my "day" job. It helped that DEAD: The Ugly Beginning did fair two weeks later with a respectable 5,000-plus free downloads.
Having been in the entertainment business before (club DJ and sports talk radio) I am versed in a few aspects of how things operate in the world of marketing to an audience. According to the folks that worked down the hall where the offices are plush, it is a 10:1 ratio of people who will complain about something versus extend a compliment. (Just another reason to ignore negative reviews if you still trend positive.) If you give something out for free, you have about a 5% net of the people that you will hook and bring back for more. Now these are all just numbers, but they do help with my point that I am about to make.
First, let me tell you that my "free" days are over. I have no problem with putting my stuff at 99 cents, but by the same token, I would not be where I am now without those freebies. For the up and coming writers trying to slice off a piece, if you think giving your stuff away for free will put you over the top, think carefully. First, if you already have a few books in the series, then giving away book one can be a good marketing tool. I will warn you that the landscape has changed in the past three years and many free books remain unread. So if you have great numbers on that promo event, don't think ALL of those people will grab your next book. And if this is your ONLY book to date...then you are wasting time and energy.
The free book should be used as a marketing tool for your series. That is really the only use for such things now. The new trend is to get together with some folks in your genre and put together an e-compendium for a buck. Ditch egos and the idea of riches here, but if you can bring six full length stories under one set, then each author promote the box set, you can cross-pollinate each other's fan base and everybody wins. Here is an example...I am currently part of one of those compendiums (find it HERE) with some VERY talented authors. The set is selling nicely, but each of us has a responsibility to push it up that hill. To that end, we have this to offer...click on the link and see how to get free signed copies from some really talented guys (and me too!).
The bottom line here is that every tool in your belt has its place. Some will work better than others, but don't disregard something based on a few nay-sayers. If you can only see every problem as a nail, then all you know how to do is hammer. Marketing is a multi-layered concept that takes all of your tools being used in effective and efficient ways. Used wisely, the free book is a way that you can lure people in to your series as long as you realize that many books remain unread and you have to hope that yours is one of the lucky titles to stand out and make a reader dive in. (COVER ART!!!) And one final word...it will be YOUR TALENT that puts you over the top.