Fancy A Freebie?

Hi All

Right-e-o here I go as promised, or threatened, on my last post (I’m sure I can hear a trumpet as I write that?) the reason/reasons why I won’t give freebies. Freebies meaning books, you understand?

If I go back to the beginning – sometime last year – when I put my first book on Amazon, I have to confess to being ignorant to the workings and wonders of self-publishing.  Mulligan’s Reach was kindly formatted and uploaded to Amazon for me by a newly acquired writer friend. I then hid for a week or two, terrified of someone actually buying it. Don’t ask me why, I’m just weird that way. It turned out to be a pointless worry because no one bought it anyway. Why would they? No one knew it was there.

So, the next plan was suggested to me. Get another book published. This I did, and again I was lucky to have the same lovely person format and upload to Amazon, Starfish. I hope you are still with me? Simply, I now had two books on Amazon, neither of which were selling because no one knew that either of them existed.

Just to give the nail a final wallop into the coffin, my friend uploaded a third book for me, Eternal, a collection of short stories.

So there I was, three books on Amazon. Three books that no one knew, or cared, existed.

This is where the dastardly plan rears its pretty head. All that was required was ‘to be seen.’ Make Starfish visible and people would see it, buy it, like it (?) and look for other works by the same enchanting author. Simples! And the way to be seen? Freebies! Lots and lots and lots of freebies. My magic fingers and my stupid brain joined forces long enough for me to go through the Amazon system and put Starfish ‘up for free,’ for the weekend. I had received all my instructions and apparently all I had to do was to sit at the computer from Friday to Sunday night and spam, spam, spam. This I did.

Because I was a newbie to the scene, and pretty stupid to boot, I think my twitter friends took me to their generous bosoms and they retweeted like their little hearts depended on it. As I reluctantly, half dying from key pad fatigue, dragged myself away from the computer on the Sunday evening, around midnight, Starfish was sitting at no 2 on Amazon!

Monday morning, 5am, and Starfish was on the no 1 spot, with Miranda Hart’s book at no 2. It had received 7,500 downloads. It didn’t stay there long and afterwards it probably ‘sold’ another 250 copies before once again dropping from sight.

Sometime later I put Eternal up as a freebie. Around 100 copies were downloaded – short stories never, in my opinion, do very well. This did nothing for sales.

Now the autopsy… I will never put a book of mine up as a freebie again because, well, frankly, why should I? Why should I give my book away? Do readers actually have any idea how much time and effort goes into writing a novel? Is it to be expected that all that effort should cost nothing? Would they seriously expect to walk into a supermarket and fall over a display with a sign saying, ‘Tuna in brine – FREE today?’ Would they take their poodle to the vet and be told at reception, ‘No charge. Today all consultations and treatments are FREE!’ Bugger off. No they would not.

My books may not be War and Peace and they may never be best sellers (well, actually Starfish was), but I have read (until approximately page 4 or 5 – I have a very short crap-level tolerance) far more boring books than mine and if I don’t value my work why should anyone else?

Often, the giving away of books is to produce reviews. Reviews help to sell books. Do they? Consider this, of those 7,500 books given away I probably received a handful of reviews. This is because most people (often other writers/authors) download your book to be helpful (which is lovely) but they never read the book. It will sit on their kindle, along with the other hundreds of helpful downloads. Even I have to confess to having downloaded books that I haven’t yet glanced at.

In a way, in my opinion, Amazon self-publishing has fallen on its own sword. Thousands, it could be millions, of authors (myself included) have jumped on the Amazon self-publishing band wagon and now the wheel has fallen off.  A massive tsunami of books have swamped the market and it’s any wonder that anyone’s book can be seen. But, like the agent/trad’ publishing market, something will have to give, somewhere, sometime.

I now have little desire to chase sales. I have a life outside of this. Don’t get me wrong, EVERY single book sale is valued, cherished and appreciated. If you knew HOW much you would actually feel sorry for me! But, for as long as books are free, and web sites, giving away free books are springing up everywhere, we may as well whistle in the wind, because there’s little chance of being heard.

I’m sure there will be many who disagree with my comments – and you know you are perfectly free to do that, (bugger! There’s that other f word again!), but these are my opinions based on facts and experiences over the last year. I’m thinking that a year is a mere blink, in the eye of time, and that self-publishing is a long haul? I’m not disillusioned at all and I shall stay for the long haul – until the time comes, if it does, when it no longer suits me to do so. After all, we are all in this by choice.

So, later I shall be spamming like a demented monkey and yelling from the tree tops, ‘Oi, go and buy my book!’ JOKE!! I won’t. Well I might? NO I won’t.

Having said all this, I am intending to lower the price of my books, sometime soon. Why? Because I can. I have the power and the control (mwahhhh!!) and it really isn’t about the money. I also like to think that I am annoying Amazon by constantly changing things! Yes, I know, petty, petty, petty. But whatever gets you through the night, hey?

Take care my lovelies xno 4

17 thoughts on “Fancy A Freebie?

  1. Great post Jennie. Like you, I experiment last year, until I realised, like you, that free downloads generally gather dust on virtual TBR lists, and that’s often where they die.

    Something else I tried, which was a resounding failure, was to make a statement with the price of my novel. Instead of charging at the sweet spot of $2.99 or is it $3.99 now? Anyway, I charged $4.99… and achieved nothing because the readers who buy ebooks at $9.99 from mainstream authors aren’t prepared to take a chance on an unknown at $4.99 when there are thousands of choices at a cheaper price.

    Sadly, those mainstream readers still turn their noses up at us because they, or someone they know, read a stinker of a book and won’t touch Indies again with a ten foot pole.

    I have no answers, but like you, I’ll keep writing in the hope that things will eventually change for the better. May the fates smile on both of us. 🙂


    • Nice to hear from you my friend. Yes, we must keep the faith and carry on. I truly think that there is sense in pricing our books at £2.99/£3.99. I believe readers might think, ‘Oh, hold on, this author has the confidence to price her book higher so It might be an OK read.’ But then again, I could be wrong ha ha. Not to worry, we’ll just have to keep smiling xxx


  2. Gail! You do NOT have to justify your actions regarding your books to anyone! Ever! And why should you give them away. You’ve worked long and hard on them and they have value.

    ‘nough said.

    I do hope you manage to work out a successful marketing/sales structure though and I have my fingers and toes crossed for you in that respect xx


  3. Gail strangely enough I rarely download ‘free’ books, although I have done once or twice on BonW, but I do try to read everything and if I like the book I post it on my FB page. I do agree about devaluing yourself by not charging, if you don’t value your work, why would anyone else? I have read all your book except for the short stories, I tend to steer away from them as I like something to get my teeth into. I think your best book is ‘Sleeping Field’, loved that and recommended it to everyone. 🙂


  4. I have thought about ‘freeing’ my books for a short period but that s a far a it got, with all my problems ths year. You ar right, our work is just a important and time-consuming as any wll known writer. I shall keep writing and hopeully publishing as soon a i am able. Maybe sowday, people will see our works and take a punt. Eelyn


  5. Gail, I see your point but if I had to pay for every book I review I couldn’t afford it. Last year I read 172 books in total and published a review about 80% of them. If I was back at full time work I wouldn’t have the time to review all these books and if I don’t work I can’t afford them. Catch-22. I refuse a lot of books for review as they aren’t my thing but still for the volume I read I am ver grateful for advance review copies, which I do actually review. I don’t post the reviews which are less than 2 stars with agreement with author to whom I feedback personally. I still spend a lot of money on books every year but if I paid £3 per book I reviewed (some cost more, some considerably less, so I’ve said average of £3) that would be £516 a year.


    • I consider you to be a totally different case, Babs. Hope you don’t mind being termed as a case? You offer a very valuable service. You receive a book and in return you give a review (unless, as you say, it is 2 stars or less). This is, in my opinion, more than payment for the book. Reviewers should receive books for free. I would happily give a reviewer a free book. The trouble is I haven’t figured out how to do that yet! xx


  6. For me, I have a love hate relationship with Amazon Select. I have used it a few times with varying degrees of success. But I do think that it has been the free days that bring me the regularity of sales that are happening at the moment. As for reviewers, if I want somebody to review my book, or somebody asks to it is always for free.

    I thought about taking my books out of select (which would mean no more free) but instead I have left them there because the last time I put The Loss of Deference up for free for one day at the last minute with no ads, I gave away about 250. I then sold the same amount again which seemed to kick start the sales. Every time I think about walking away, Amazon lures me back. It’s like they know what I am thinking.


  7. I agree that Amazon has given a body blow to the ebook industry by using the lure of free. I know of no other industry where you work on a product for 1 or 2 years and then give it away for free. Amazon is not that interested in book sales – they make very little out of that – they are looking for idiots like us to provide fodder for their Kindles which they are much more intent on selling.


  8. Thanks for the no-holds barred truth about what happens after a big freebie rush – not much of anything. We just have to write and get our stuff out there because we love doing it and leave the hyper-active uber marketing to others who have more talent for manipulating something or other – how else do they get to the top all the time?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s