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Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's to Gain from Going Free within Amazon's Lending Library?

Short answer:
No royalties on any of those five days used and chosen as "free" by the author, but great marketing of both author and "free" book, plus royalties on any simultaneous sales of your backlist or on any prior or future "lends" of said book within the Lending Library other than the freebie period.
Longer answer:
My debut novel, Good Ole Boys, went free for five straight days in February.  A romance linked to the holiday Valentine's Day.  Good timing for my book.
For any of those five "free" days used in a particular month, you do NOT get a share of the Lending Library's dollars set aside.  Any reader "lends" that take place during your novel's exclusive run with Amazon, aside from the five free days, DO get a share of that month's kitty.
Still, in this newbie's opinion, you get a lot of free marketing and exposure to possible future readers.  See below for more details. 
Yes, you get no royalties with the freebie promo days.  For me, as a new name among the other new names plus the well-known ones, it did get me some free marketing by the biggest e-book dealer in the world.  I write both nonfiction and fiction, but this was my debut novel.  And for a complete unknown quantity, I felt wonderful about the numbers of giveaways I garnered.
Granted, some people want ANY thing marked "free" but I think these people were selecting free books like I do:  a cover that pulls me in, a cute or curiosity-inspiring title, plus a blurb that intrigues.  This was a marketing test for all three parts of my novel too and, IMO, they passed.  Could they be better, tweaked more?  Sure.  At some point, you just say this is pretty perfect, and go with it.

BUT here's what I think:  If you put up one free, have others to sell simultaneously.  I tried to finalize my prequel in time to catch the attention of the people who got the free debut book--although they are standalone stories, generations apart, but do share a family name.  Different, but the same.  I'm doing my cover, which is the hold up.

Another thing to consider.  I have a slew of unread free books on my reader.  And I'm a voracious reader.  When I have only one job, I've been known to read a book a day in lieu of TV time or movie watching.  But I'm at two jobs now, maybe on the cusp of a third, so I have lots of e-books that I'd love to read but no time yet.  By "new" authors that I haven't heard of or read anything by.
I said that to say this, just because two thousand people picked up a "free" book of yours, DOES NOT MEAN they have read it that day (or the next) and then go right out to buy all the other novels you may have available.  There's a lag time.  So you need to remind your readers.
By "remind" I mean that I put links in the back of my books for each of my other books.  That works as a great marketing tool once your buyer has now become a reader and finished your book to reach that particular page.  BUT, like me, if you don't have your second novel up yet, there is nothing to link to the first novel.
Because of the lag time I mentioned above, I'd strongly suggest having at least two novels out.  Put up one for "free," making sure the link to the second book is at the end of the first book (and vice versa).  THEN if you put up a third book in a month, a year, or whatever, you add your link for novel #3 to your existing books.
Yeah, the "free" copy won't have it.  [I understand if you archive and pull back up, any in-between edits to the book done by the author within Amazon are supposed to then be included with any such future reloads.  I have no idea if that is true.  Check it out and see with one of your own creations between an original upload and an oops-correcting-some-errors later upload.]
Remember, I'm talking about one novel leading to another novel purchase.  I'm not factoring in my nonfiction here.  Not that nonfiction won't sell.  But with our reading public and the state of the economy, I believe they want "escape" (a novel) not "change" (a How-To or a self-improvement guide).  Just my opinion here.

Going "free" obviously puts your book on FREE book rankings.  So, for me, I did 5 days straight.  For 5 days, I did pretty well against hundreds of others ON THE FREE RANKINGS.  Months later, I have noticed Good Ole Boys is higher on the search results page of 25 thumbnails when I type in my title on Amazon without choosing any particular department--which shows up among music of the same name too.  Instead of being five or so down, I'm usually second or third.  Maybe because of all the free giveaways. Who knows?

Take this with a dash a salt.  One woman's opinion from her one-time experience (so far) with the free promo opp within Amazon's Lending Library.  Hope some or all of it helps.  Keep writing!

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