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. ❤

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17 Comments

  1. How timely is this! I totally agree, Dicey, as indies we need exposure, and one of the best means was giveaways or “free days.” I’m actually making the first book of my series free to celebrate the release of book #3 which is launching in a month or two. If a reader enjoys it, he or she will move on to the other books.

    • Yep! Let me know when you have the free promotion, Alesha, and I will gladly post it. You’ll be releasing book 3 in your Gray Tower Trilogy series soon–how cool is that! Congrats in advance!

  2. I do agree with you here Dicey. You’re in an awesome position to do this too as you have several books thereby giving people an opportunity to sample one and decide on the others. It is a bit more difficult for me as I have only one published book to date. My free promotions have definitely helped boost sales to something like a few sales from something like no sales. Heh. I’m grateful. Funny thing, one reviewer wrote that she couldn’t understand why my book wasn’t ranked higher. I would agree but my opinion is likely biased. In any case, I believe that free is the friend of the independent author and definitely not devaluing. Besides, shouldn’t everyone get the chance to savor some goodness? At least that is what I tell myself sometimes. On a serious note though, free tends to signal people into thinking that the book must be crap, as you mentioned. I can’t tell you how many of my reviewers expressed surprise that my book was actually a good read.

    • It’s true that the more books you have, the better this free promotion works. I remember how it went when I only had one book. BIG difference now. That’s the way it works period. The more books you have, the more sales and readers. If people like your work, they tend to read everything you write. Keep writing, Khaalidah! If you’re getting that kind of reception with one book, just imagine how it will be when you have a large back list.

      P.S. Please state the title of your book in a comment, love. I’d like for passer-byers to see it.

      • Thanks Dicey! I’m working on more books…How I pray for the day when I can be a full time writer (or even a “more time” writer) as opposed to a when I can scrap up any kind of free time and I’m not also sleeping time writer.
        My book is called An Unproductive Woman and it is available on Kindle at Amazon. Thanks for the chance to say so!

  3. You have so accurately described what usually happens when I tell someone I know I have written a book. I may try a giveaway to boost sales. I cannot believe how difficult it is to market myself. Great post.

    • Thanks, Sheryse. One would think the hard part would be writing the darn book, but noooo. We have to hustle hard. What’s the name of your book?

  4. Thank you for posting this. You have so accurately described what happens when I tell people I’ve published. I may try a giveaway to boost sales and see what happens.

  5. I’m not a writer, I wish I was. But I do sell and make beautiful purses… The thing is, when you first start out its all about promoting. You give it away for free to get more people interested. It’s just the way it works. Now and again I hear the same stuff like ” how can you just give away a $100 bag?” Well for now it’s all about exposure. I can’t just wait around for some one to finally see it. I have to get out there too. I’m glad you threw yourself out there. You’re one of my favorite authors and I’m always looking forward to your new books. So keep up the good work, with you’re writing style you’ll make it to the top. 😉

    • Awww. How ’bout–I’m so emotional right now, Ashlee. “You’re one of my favorite authors and I’m always looking forward to your new books. So keep up the good work, with you’re writing style you’ll make it to the top.” *sobs* THANK YOU! What’s the name of your business and website? I usually carry a briefcase or tiny purse for my keys and IDs, but I’d love to see what you have. I’ll also do what I can to shout it out. If my blog security blocks the link, I should still be able to moderate the comment and approve it. I love supporting others who are making it happen.

      • Oh thank you!!! And you are so welcome! I’m a big reader, I mean big. lol. So it’s hard to remember most books I read because they all end up being the same. So when something stands out, and I get wrapped into the story, It’s awesome!!!

        Most of my bags are made out of recycled fabrics, and no patterns are used. You create your art by writing, I create mine with scissors. 😉 Here’s my facebook link https://www.facebook.com/DesertDandelionDesigns.
        Thank you. Oh and p.s. When’s your next book coming out???

        • Coming up with shocking, unpredictable plots and characters is definitely something I strive for. 😉 I liked your page and peeked at the bags. Very nice. My mother loves bags, so I may need to visit your page again for Mother’s Day. Regarding my next book, I just released Zeek’s Loving Thorn, a novella of The Narcoleptic Vampire Series. It’s about the intersexed vampire we meet in Vol. 3 of the series. I’m probably going to need to hide my face awhile behind some of the stuff I wrote in it. 😀

  6. Author Renee Pawlish discusses Amazon and free books: http://tobecomeawriter.com/indie-authors-bad-news-if-you-use-amazon-select/

  7. […] ride and expect the unexpected. Why would I give my work away for free? Read my answer here. Bottom line–I hope you’ll enjoy it and tell someone else about it. Happy […]


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