The power of FREE – does it work?

For years, businesses have always offered freebies to lure you in, sample their product, and hopefully buy more. But does it work for authors? Or are we undervaluing our work and our art?

The Indelible authors have proven over and over again that going free works. Some of us have seen tremendous benefits and other just fantastic benefits. But either way, the power of free brought more visibility to our books, which then resulted in more sales for the paid books. And often, going free with the first book in a series, not only brought short term results but long term results too.

And I’m not talking about using Kindle Select but the authors working to go free on Amazon long term.

My short story The Almost Assassin finally went free a couple days ago! Yay! Click through the below picture for Amazon or click on the link to Smashwords on the sidebar.

A teen attempts to follow in the family business but a beautiful “spy” may be be his downfall making him The Almost Assassin.

In this short story, you’ll experience Malcolm’s point of view leading up to his first date with Savvy – the date that ended in disaster! You’ll also find a longer sample of A Spy Like Me.

If you’re looking for some great reads here are some freebies from the Indelible authors:

Short Stories:

Mind Games by Susan Kaye Quinn
Before by Jessie Harrell
Unspeakable by S.R. Johannes


Day Of Sacrifice by S.W. Benefiel (First of a six part series)
Blood and Snow by Rashelle Workman (free for a limited time)


Ethereal by Addison Moore
Bound by C.K. Bryant
Clockwise by Elle Strauss
Anathema by Megg Jensen
Sleepers by Megg Jensen
Into the Shadows by Karly Kirkpatrick
Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak
Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon
Watched by Cindy M. Hogan
Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching
Exiled by Rashelle Workman
How To Date An Alien by Magan Vernon
Loramendi’s Story by Angela Carlie

Grasping at Eternity (Karen Hooper is offering her book free in exchange for honest reviews!)

I’ve seen lots of debate about FREE books. Of course, going free doesn’t always work. It helps to have a network in place to help spread the word through Twitter and Facebook. It helps to have the series completed or near completed. And it helps if you start with a professional product and well written story.

So what do you think about all the free books? 

, , , , , , ,

24 Responses to The power of FREE – does it work?

  1. Stina Lindenblatt June 21, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    I know a lot of people who love the freebies. I’ve downloaded a few, but whether I’ll get around to reading them is another thing. My first priority goes to the trad pubbed books that I’ve a lot of paid more for. And naturally, the only reason I’ve paid that money is because I really wanted to read the book. This means if I don’t get around to reading the free book, I won’t be able to review it on Goodreads and lets others know. Someone else has to do it.

    I know authors who have had great success because of their freebies, so for them it obviously worked. The question is, would they have done just as well if the book hadn’t been free to begin with? Who knows.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      I read the books I’ve spent money on first too!

      And no, the authors wouldn’t have the same reach or the same sales without going free but not because of the quality of their work but because going free helped them become visible. And if readers go on to buy the second and third book, I’d say it’s not just because they went free. Free just kickstarted sales.

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh June 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    As far as does it benefit the author, I’ve heard both good and bad things. Short stories offered for free are a good way to gain an audience.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Yes, short stories are good too. But from what I can tell they don’t have the same power as offering the first book in a series for free. Of course, if an author is already doing well there might not be a need to go free or it might be a way to give back.

  3. Heather Sunseri June 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I know I always like it when there’s a book I’ve been thinking of reading turns up free. Makes the decision to try it that much easier. But lately I’ve seen mixed opinions on whether it’s beneficial to the author. hmmm.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      I’m not in the place to give stats. But with some of my friends that have gone free with their first book – it basically changed their careers and the sales remained steady.

  4. Natalie Aguirre June 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I can see how having a free book, like the first in a series or a short story, can help get a reader to try your book and buy the new one.

    I think when promoting your books through other bloggers or even your own site that a free giveaway contest gets much more comments and interest than if there isn’t a giveaway. This is true even on the popular book review blogs. Something to keep in mind when you can.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      I saw your guest blog about how offering the book up to commenters has helped with interviews. It’s amazing that a lot of authors are still dead set again going free. I understand to a certain point. Thankfully, it’s the author’s choice.

  5. Donna K. Weaver June 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Author Brandon Sanderson said at a presentation once that one of the biggest things authors have to fight against is obscurity. With the huge volume of books being released that’s so true. How can people read your book if they can’t find it. Free really does help with that because it encourages people to give it a try which then moves it up the rankings so people are more likely to find it.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Exactly, Donna. That’s what happens. And in a lot of cases there are thousands of downloads and then that carries over to paid sales for the rest of the series. Do all the people that download freebies read the books? I’m sure some do.

      I download freebies to give it a try. I’ll keep reading if I like it and I always leave reviews on Amazon – for any author now.

  6. Tasha Seegmiller June 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    I understand the point behind it, but in so many ways, it feels like someone is saying they don’t value their own work enough to make someone else value it and that makes me sad. I think running it as a promotion from time to time is appropriate – like TV time for upcoming musicians. If it is a sample, a short story, something like that, I can understand, but the decision to do more than that is one I’m not sure I could make.

    • Laura June 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      I can see your point. And I think just offering a book free without marketing goals behind the choice, does devalue our work a little bit. On the other side, if we go free with the first and it makes our work more visible then…that’s adding value to our work.

  7. Patti June 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I see the pros and cons of both. If your book is a series then it does make sense to offer the first one for free, hoping that you’ll hook the reader for the second one. That’s a hard decision, but I think just like deciding whether to self publish or go the traditional route, it’s all about what you’re goals are.

  8. Kelly Polark June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Interesting discussion! Of course I love when a book is free, and have many downloaded on my Kindle. Some I would have bought eventually though. I like reading the pros and cons of it all!

  9. Lydia K June 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    I remember reading a post by Neil Gaiman about giving away free books and how much it helped with his sales. It really is a brilliant marketing technique.

  10. Elana Johnson June 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Honestly? I would give almost anything to be able to set my short story at free. And my first book too. Almost anything. So yes, I believe it works, especially in today’s marketplace where people will snatch up free things whether they need or want them.

  11. Elle Strauss June 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Free worked for me! I’ll definitely use this strategy again.

  12. angelaackerman June 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    I’m on the fence. I think that it does undervalue our work, and it sets up the expectation for more free. That said, I think giving away something as a tie-in (like a short story, etc) is smart marketing–this goes for traditionally published or self-published.

    We have a free PDF that’s a companion to the Emotion Thesaurus. Would we ever put the ET itself on for free? I don’t think so, at least not for the foreseeable future. I totally understand and respect that some authors need to do this to draw in an audience if there is not one in place already exposed to their work. I think each person should decide if is for them or not. There is no right or wrong, only what works in each individual situation.

    • Laura June 22, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      I agree that it makes absolutely no sense for the ET to be set on free. It’s a resource book and I think that is totally different than fiction. And free doesn’t seem to work as well between novels that are unrelated.Even if you came out with a second thesaurus, I probably wouldn’t put ET for Free.

      But even authors, like Gemma Halliday, who are doing extremely well and have a lot out there have put their first book free and they didn’t need a boost.

      But you are so right in that it’s each person’s decision. I love seeing different takes on it.

  13. Karen Strong June 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    I love it when an author does free short stories based on chars in a novel. Plus I would think it would give an author exposure. If a reader likes it, then they may be willing to buy the author’s next book.

  14. Sherrie Petersen June 22, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    I subscribe to Pixel of Ink and download the free books that look interesting. But I’m also willing to pay for books that look good and if I like the free book, I’ll go download more by that author.

    At the same time, I get irritated when something I paid for goes for free…

    • Laura June 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      I totally understand Sherrie. I hate to say this but when a book is in KDP Select – at some point it will go free. I wait for the free days. I get frustrated too if I pay full price and then it drops significantly or goes free like the next week.

      I’ve taken note of that and have not gone up and down in price but I understand offering sales. If I drop my price on the first book for a limited sale it will either be permanently or after book 2 is out.

  15. Dean K Miller June 25, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    Not having reached the point of selling or offering anything yet, I am still on the fence about “free” works. I think, as Alex C. mentioned, free short stories may be a great way to introduce yourself.

    Undervalue or overvalue of our work? A difficult one to answer. I would find it difficult to give away my first novel (in progress), but know realistically it probably wouldn’t sell for $24.99 anywhere.

    Then again, I’m not dependent on sales to provide food on the table…though I’d certainly be closer to my desired weight!

    I too, will read paid fors before freebies, but thanks for the freebie leads…

  16. Leigh Moore June 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I like the idea of doing these little background novellas for free. I can totally see how that would work as a marketing tool for your other books. I just worry about undercutting or works too much and teaching readers to expect 99 cent books. Anywho, if it works for you, do it!!! :o)

    Yay! Can’t wait to read Malcolm’s story! <3

Leave a Reply