Are Free Books Obsolete?
Kicking a series off with a free book used to be the way to go, but times have changed. Amazon’s policies have changed even more. The only way to post a permafree book onto Amazon is to get Amazon to price match with a competing site, and that involves a lot of back-work and has no guarantee of happening at all in the end. Not only that, but subscription services like Kindle Unlimited give readers a chance to binge while still paying the author.
With the hassles that permafree now presents for writers, is it still a worthwhile strategy, or has it become obsolete?
The answer is: a little of both.
Most of your readers will come from Amazon, even if you publish wide. With today’s inflation, 99¢ is a good deal and an effective sales price—meaning that you might choose not to factor in free books as a part of your sales strategy at all.
However, free books can go beyond the Amazon storefront. Reader magnets are still one of the most effective and reliable strategies for getting readers to sign up onto your list. The reader magnet strategy has been unchanged in the world of priced vs. free books and is still overwhelmingly worthwhile.
Free Book Guidelines
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Kindle Unlimited does allow you to list your book for free for several days every cycle. Tracking these days and using them as they come up is a great way to get new readers on board and try the “free book” publishing approach without selling everything for free. You can regularly make the first book in a series free on routine or make each of your books free for only a few days near release to celebrate or allow reviewers to become verified purchasers—meaning your ARC reviews will carry more weight without their having to spend money.
Again, the reader magnet strategy still works as well as ever. Instead of listing your reader magnet as a book on Amazon or any other store, make it exclusive for people who sign onto your list. You can include links in the back of your book and on your social media pages for readers to find.
At the end of the day, the best advice you can get is the advice from your competition. If you see a lot of free books and reader magnets for your genre, you’ll probably want to pursue that and claim your piece of the pie. Otherwise, stick to the prices you see listed to make sure your book fits in.
As always, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. You can also click the blue button below to join Pen and Glory’s group of self-publishing fiction writers for more discussion and tips.