When most authors think about giving away free books, they do so in hopes of increasing their following and reviews. This topic has become an interesting debate within the book community, especially for indie authors. While some authors have experienced success with this strategy, others have suggested it’s a waste of time.

Without long-term research performed on the benefits, authors should be open to try any strategy that will help them promote and sell their book.  Having said this, there is a time and place for using this strategy and hopefully, this article can help you decide if giving away free books is a strategy you want to try.

giving away free books

Here are 6 reasons why authors should be giving away free books

Galley Copies- During the writing process giving away galley copies to reviewers or editors is a common practice.

Book Reviews- one of the first steps in any book marketing campaign should be getting reviews. This process should start while the author is still writing the book and will continue well after the book is released. Using Kindle’s KDP program, for example, allows authors to give away free eBooks. A properly run giveaway will generate activity, give you a reason to communicate with your growing list of followers and should lead to book reviews.

Getting help with marketing- If authors hire anyone to help them with book marketing they should insist on having them read the book. It’s also a good idea for them to understand what the message is, why the book was written and the author’s goals.

Distributors or Resellers- when you are trying to create a relationship with resellers or distributors most will want a copy of the book along with a sell sheet and sales history.

Your Genre- If you are releasing a book in a popular genre, you might want to try giving away free books to see if you can build a following, get reviews and spread the word. The more crowded a genre is, the more you will need to stand out.

Your family- getting the emotional support of your family is helpful and goes a long way. Authors should be proud of what they have created and share this journey with those that love them.

Here are 5 reasons why authors should not be giving away free books

  • Most people love the idea of getting something for free. Giving away free books does not translate into expanding your audience and getting book reviews. In fact, a high percentage of free books don’t even get read.
  • Giveaway programs usually cost money and take time and resources to set up properly. With any promotional opportunity, the author needs to generate a ‘buzz’ with their followers and target audience to get the proper response.
  • While Goodreads and Amazon are popular platforms to promote books, both offer giveaways that require the author to mail a free, physical copy of the book. This can be costly and might not result in achieving the goals you set up.
  • Giving away free books hurts the industry and dilutes the goal of being an author.  Imagine if every author gave away their books for free.
  • Having your book priced for free can lower the intrinsic value of the book. For example, if you have a self-help book that helps children control anger and manage stress, keeping the price of the book in line with other popular/strong selling titles makes this book seem more attractive than the one that is for free.
  • When marketing a book, the author should be willing to try anything to help them achieve their goals. Giving away free books is just one of many marketing tools authors have at their disposal, however taking full advantage of these tools is the key to a successful campaign.

If you decide to take advantage of a free giveaway, you should start with a low-cost one, experience what is involved with running a successful campaign and learn how it works. Talk to other authors, read about how to run a successful promotion and go for it!

Rick Lite of Stress Free Book Marketing, stands at the forefront of the ever-changing book industry. He is a seasoned book marketing professional with over 13 years of experience in the industry. Rick’s expertise comes from tirelessly working on new and innovative ways to market his own books and CDs with his company and parent company, Stress Free Kids. Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation, and growth, Rick works closely with authors to create custom, robust book marketing programs. His easy-going manner provides “stress-free” support and comfort to authors going through the book marketing process for the first time. Rick is quick to share his knowledge and “insider tips” for a successful marketing campaign that will lead to increased exposure, awareness and most importantly, sales.

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