Many authors including traditionally published as well as self-published believe that the only way to sell e-books, is to give their e-books away. They mistakenly believe that if they give away their hard earned work, that this will somehow magically entice people to buy their other e-books. Sadly this is not the case. In most cases, what happens is a reader sees a free e-book and downloads it and it sits on their Kindle with the other thousand or so free e-books and is forgotten. Occasionally, someone will actually read one of the free e-books they’ve downloaded, but in most cases because there are so many free e-books available on Amazon now, they get buried.
Because free e-books have become so readily available, readers do download them, but getting thousands of free downloads does not guarantee book sales, all it does is guarantee thousands of free downloads that could have been sales with the right book marketing. There are other issues with giving away your e-books for free, here are just a few:
1. Your e-book could be pirated. Yes, even a book that is only free on Amazon can be pirated. There are ways to break the encryption and they’re not hard to find. Because we don’t want to encourage e-book piracy, we’re not going to say where to find out how to do this, but suffice it to say the information is not difficult to ferret out. So Amazon’s DRM encryption does not protect you from e-book piracy.
2. There is no guarantee that someone who downloads your free e-book will read or review it. Let’s face it, if you’re going to give away a free e-book, the least that you would want is to get a review posted for it, and there’s no guarantee that will happen.
3. There is no guarantee that someone who downloads your free e-book will buy your other e-books. Many authors believe that all it will take is thousands of free downloads on Amazon of one of their e-books to cause a cascade effect of thousands of sales of their other e-books. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.
These are just a few of the reasons that free isn’t always the best way to sell e-books. We strongly encourage authors to give away other types of freebies, such as hand drawn adult coloring pages or computer generated ones, there are free programs to help you do this, short stories that are permafree, and gift cards, jewelry or candy, to name a few, rather than their e-books. These types of freebies are much more likely to generate book sales and show the author’s generosity towards readers.