All – there are a lot of independent authors who read this blog. While this post is primarily geared toward them, I’m sure some of you will find it a little bit interesting!
By popular request, here is a continuation of the “Is It You?” thread I started two weeks ago. Consistent with the last two in the series, I received a lot of emails about my rambling but (as usual, there is a “but”), while the emails are great, why not share your thoughts here at the bottom of this post and get the dialogue flowing? I’m sure your friends, neighbors, and anonymous strangers would like to see more viewpoints.
If you missed the first thread regarding a sloppy book description, you can read it and comment on that thread if you click here or type in http://wp.me/p2b82w-3Ux into your web browser.
If you missed the second thread regarding judging a book by its cover, you can read it and comment on that thread if you click here or type in http://wp.me/p2b82w-3UA into your web browser.
As background, about two dozen or more independent authors send me notifications each day of their books going free on Amazon wanting me to publish it on my largest blog. I’m more than happy to do it, as I have been called lazy at times in the past and having someone else tell me about a free offer decreases the amount of time I have to run my manual methods of seeing what is free for a particular day. I reject about 75% of the book submissions for about half a dozen reasons – if I’m rejecting them from a promotion standpoint, you can certainly bet potential readers would do the same if they saw most of the books being submitted to me.
Continuing my “Top Something” list of to avoid promoting because either (a) similar promotions tell me it won’t be that successful because few people click on it – despite a book being free, (b) my blog readers tell me what they didn’t like about a certain thing or feature, or the somewhat reliable gauge of (c) my gut tells me not to do it, this time is having a freebie promotion of #2 or #3 in a series of books.
The purpose of this thread is not to debate the positive and negative of having a freebie offer, but putting anything besides book #1 in a series on a free run.
For example, let’s suppose you have a book series that has six volumes in it (or more than one book in a series). Of course, you’re going to do anything you can to promote the series as, after all, you want to hook a new reader into enjoying the series and purchasing the rest of the books so that they can get their fix and you can receive some royalties.
Many authors submit book #2 or #3 in the series for free, and it is clearly stated in the book’s description as “A continuation of the XYZ series” or “the continuing tales of the XXX thriller!” About three years ago I quit promoting books like these. Why? It just seemed to bother the blog readers – heck, it bothered me, also. I don’t know too many people who will take the time investment to start book #3 of a series as they don’t have the background of the characters, plots, themes, etc. developed in Book 1 and Book 2.
As a result, a lot of people skip over it and move on to the next deal – and the independent author doing the promotion is scratching their head wondering why their freebie promotion wasn’t “successful.” When I try to tell that to the author who has asked me my opinion why things didn’t work out like they wanted, a lot of folks don’t believe me. The blog readers have told me what they prefer, and seeing anything but book #1 in a series as a freebie is not what they want to see.
In the majority of cases, Book #1 in a series is the best one of the whole lot: you took your time with character development and plot (among everything else). You have laid the foundation for reader involvement – they feel attached and have a connection with the characters and want more, more, more.
My recommendation is to make the biggest push and best impression you can with Book #1: in addition to a good tale, have an outstanding cover, make sure your book description is a home run, has had the benefit of at least one editor, and, not to be overlooked, every single page of the Kindle version has been proofed for typos.
At the end of the day rather than one successful freebie run with residual sales for a day or two post-free, the name of the game is to create a bit of buzz around your work and have a long runway of book sales that last several months if not longer. If you can hook your prospective readers into the beginning of something – rather than starting in the middle – I’d be willing to bet your overall paid sales over a period of time will increase.
We all need to find a way to get prospective browsers to turn into habitual purchasers: people will look for any excuse to not buy your offering and will move on to something else in their quest to find a new good book or favorite author.
Side Note: authors Toni Dwiggins and Monique Martin are about the only exceptions to my nitpicky “rule” on books in a series. They do everything I have said not to do – for example, they continually run #2 in their series as free and describe them as a continuation of a story in their book descriptions – and they knock it out of the park each time. Part of me says it’s because they have such a good book description it compels people to give it a shot, part of it is probably because they have some book #1 readers who saw #2 as a freebie and grabbed it, book #2 can stand by itself, or maybe it’s because they have a book cover that grabs your attention. There are probably a bunch of other reasons, but what you can boil it all down to is they are pretty darn good writers. Just an example that my hypotheses aren’t 100% reliable!
Thoughts? Comments? Complaints (you certainly won’t hurt my feelings)? Fire away in the comment field below – if you are reading this on your e-Ink Kindle, you can type in http://wp.me/p2b82w-3UG into a web browser and enter your thoughts!
Thanks for listening!
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