Devaluing Books to Gain Exposure~An Author’s Musing.

A friend just told me she loved my books and thought I had some serious talent, but I needed to stop giving them away. She said my books were too good for that. That I should stop devaluing them. I told her that it’s the best way to get exposure for indie authors. No one knows or cares who I am unless I give them a sample of my work. She said that was bullshit. That I should keep writing them and let them speak for themselves. If I’m patient, a handful of readers will turn into many, many more. It would take time, but my hard work would be more appreciated in the long run, which is what I deserve.

Well, patience is not my strongest quality, neither is counting on others to help spread the word. I tend to be more…aggressive. BUT I agree that in theory, I would publish my books, let people know they are published, then sit back and let them decide whether to buy them. Then wait for them to read them. Then see if they liked them. And pray that they told somebody else about them. In theory, that’s how it would work. It just doesn’t.

This is how it really works:

Dicey: “Hey, friend. I just published such-n-such book.”

Friend: “That’s awesome. Congratulations.”

The end.

Repeat to Friend B. And C. And so forth.

Sometimes it works likes this:

Dicey: “Hey, friend. I just published such-n-such book.”

Friend: “That’s awesome. Congratulations. Because I think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, I have to buy that.”

Dicey: “Aw, shucks. Thanks! Let me know what you think.”

Friend buys it. Six months later…

Dicey: “Hey, friend. What did you think?”

Friend: “Of what?”

Dicey: “My book.”

Friend: “Oh, sorry. I haven’t read it yet.”

Dicey: 😦 Nobody loves me.

I ask again in another six months. Same answer.

The end.

Sometimes it goes like this:

Dicey: “Hey, friend. I just published a book.”

Friend: “That’s awesome. Congratulations. What is it about?”

Dicey: “It’s about Ca-RAZY stuff. There’s some explicit sex, some violence, some really racy themes. It’s not for the squeamish or easily offended.”

Friend: “Oh, wow! That sounds like something I would love to read. Where can I find it?”

Dicey: “Here’s a paperback copy. They’re also on Amazon Kindle.”

Friend: “I’m going to buy it ASAP.”

Friend buys the book.

Dicey: “Wonderful! THANKS! Let me know what you think, tell your friends, and post an honest review on Amazon when you’re done.”

Friend: “Okay.”

A few days later…

Friend: “Oh, my God! Dicey, you are the bomb. I always knew you were, but WOW! You are really the bomb. That book was awesome. It was very vivid. It had hot sex scenes. It had a great, surprising plot. You’re my favorite author in the whole wide world.” (Okay, so I’m embellishing here, but it’s my blog.)

Dicey: “Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Did you write a review?”

Friend: “No.”

Dicey: “Did you tell anybody?”

Friend: “No.”

Dicey: “Okay.”

Six months later…

Dicey: “Hey, Friend. Did you post an honest review or tell anybody about my book yet?”

Friend: “No.”

Dicey: “Okay.”

The end.

So, you see? I’ll be 101 years old before reaping the benefits of reaching out to my friends or letting word of mouth gain exposure for my books. That doesn’t mean I’m not eternally grateful for those who DO buy and/or read my books. Do not be mistaken! That’s better than nothing, trust me! I’m happy when that happens. I’m just making a point about exposure.

When I have a free promotion period on Amazon, I increase my chances of spreading the word about my books. My husband likes to call it “Playing The Numbers Game”. The more people who have access to it, the more to actually read it. The more to actually read it, the more reviews and chitchat about it. The more reviews and chitchat, the more sales. The more sales, the more readers, the more awesome I feel as an author, the more books I write…and the cycle continues.

When I do a free promotion, it goes like this:

Dicey: “Hey, Everybody. My book is free. Leave a review when you’re done.”

Everybody: “Oh, shiznit! Thanks.”

Two thousand downloads from every country and state later…

More sales, more reviews, more fans on FB, more followers on Twitter, more hits to my website, and more friendships formed with people who share common interests. Mostly, copies are just stored on Kindles and other reading devices along with the millions of other free ebooks BUT I just made a few more fans than I had before the free promotion downloads.

When I give a free copy of my book to Friend, it’s a wild card that could go either way. They may not ever read it or write a review or tell another soul about it OR they may do all of the above. It’s a gamble I take. I’m out of long, sleepless nights writing something entertaining and the cost to publish my book then give it away for free if they do neither. BUT if they happen to spread the love, it was an investment with a favorable return. That’s golden. I have to take that chance sometimes, and sometimes I have to give it to thousands to increase my chances.

That being said, I make Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul, book 1 of The Narcoleptic Vampire Series free every now and then, but I do not EVER, nor do I intend to make any other book in the series free. My rationale is that once you read book 1, you know whether you like my writing style, whether you can handle the risque’ content, and whether you want to continue. At that point, you can buy the other books in the series. You can treat book 1 as a sample. If you don’t like it, you’ve only wasted a little time. If I make all the other books in the series free, I’ve wasted ALL my time.

I’ve made Shameful (Taboo Fiction) free in the past too. There were fifteen hundred downloads, with no reviews and a handful of sales later. Within recent weeks, I’ve had an increase in sales for it, but I attributed it to some of the other promotional things I’ve done recently. I’m still hopeful that those who downloaded the book when it was free will read it one day and let me know what they think. I will not make that one free again.

I’ve recently released a dark comedy novelette, How To Have A Perfect Marriage, that I will make free one day soon, so keep an eye out for that. It’s only $.99 now, which isn’t much, but for some reason FREE screams a totally different tune. Yes, it screams Cheap-Because-This-May-Be-Another-Crappy-Book, but at least it screams it to potential readers I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to promote to. Once it’s free, there will be thousands of downloads, I’m sure. Hopefully, there will be thousands of readers too, who will also want to buy some of my other books. I will probably write more short works like this and make them free periodically as samples of my writing.–>Playing The Numbers game.

To the friend who said I was devaluing my books by giving them away–Yes, you are right. One day, I hope to be in a position where I can actually let the quality of my books speak for themselves. I hope friends like you will continue to spread the word about them. I hope they will find other readers who love them as much as you do. And I hope that they will eventually be appreciated. We’ll be able to look back on these days and say, “Wow. Can you believe I gave them away for free?” And you’ll smile at me and say, “No, I can’t. But at least you don’t have to do that anymore.” Friend, thanks for the verbal bitch-slapping. I love that you love me and my books enough to tell me to stop doing that. One day, I’ll be in a position to follow your advice.

*hugs and kisses*

Big, emotional THANK YOU! to those of you who buy, read, and/or share information about my books. ❤