- by Cheri Cowell
A battle is raging in the book-pricing world over the strategy of offering books for free or nearly free (.99). Much hang wringing is happening as some declare this pricing strategy is devaluing books and authors. On the other hand, there are success stories, and authors who are making a lot of money and developing a strong fan base using these methods. So how do you know if this is a good strategy for you? Here are some things to consider:
From the Reader's POV:
There are two views on this. First, there are those who view .99 books as substandard. They won't buy them. However, there is a growing number of readers, mainly Kindle owners, who view free and nearly free books as a way to expand their author pool. Like scouring the free book table at the local library book sale, these readers hope to discover a new favorite author and so are willing to take a chance on a book at .99.
From the Author's POV:
As an indie author without a publishing company behind you, and maybe a full-time job taking up your week, it can be difficult to reach beyond your normal areas of influence. So, it may be wise to gamble on finding a few new fans, even if it means seeing zeros in your royalty statements. However, an author must know what they are giving away. Seventy percent of .99, which is Amazon's royalty rate for its KDP published authors, is only .69. You'd need to sell two books a day or sixty a month just to earn enough to take your spouse out to dinner. And if you offer your book for free, you will be eating homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a park bench.
So, what is the answer?
There are good reasons to offer your book for free or deeply discounted. One would be if you have multiple books. Offer the first in a series for free to hook the reader, the second one a .99 or 2.99, and then the third one at full price. By then you've developed a true fan. Another reason would be to garner some exposure. In this scenario, offer the book at this discount for a limited time. Finally, offering the book for free in exchange for those willing to write reviews is always a good decision.
At EABooks, we offer a coupon program that allows our authors to set the normal price of their book and then offer discount coupons that have expiration dates. This eliminates the image in some reader's minds that the book is somehow not valuable, but does the job of encouraging sales.
While the debate continues, let's see this trend as an opportunity if managed well to attract new fans and spread the messages we've been entrusted to share through our gift of writing.
Cheri is an 'Award Winning Author' and her Bible study Parables and Word Pictures (AMG) is available at local Christian bookstores and is also listed at Amazon. Her current book, Living the Story: Reaching Outside the Church Walls, can be purchased through your local Christian bookstore. She can be reached through her website.
www.EABooksOnline.com where Cheri helps authors reach their publishing dreams.