Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writers' Wednesday: My Experiment with Perma-Free

"A beautifully original story. Loved the characters. I picked it up as a free book. But it would be worth the money. I would love to find a place like Paradise. So well written you can feel yourself standing among the story unfolding. Wonderfully heartwarming love story. Highly recommended."

For indie authors, making a book "perma-free" is one of many marketing options. Basically this means offering a book for free, indefinitely. Ideally it's one in a series, so if readers like the story, they will go out and spend money on the others in the series.

For a while, I wasn't sure what I thought about this concept – I mean, we work hard on our books! I didn't know if I wanted to just give a title away. But The Promise of Paradise has been out for a year now, and done relatively well sales-wise, so I thought I'd give it a try. First off, though, you can't just set a book's price to $0.00 on Amazon (if you participate in the Amazon KDP program, you can offer your book for free for 5 days every 3 months, but I wanted to see what would happen for a longer period of time). So you have to "price match," which basically means making it free in other sales channels (like Smashwords, the popular website for indie authors) and then hope once sites like Barnes and Noble or Sony make it free, Amazon will follow suit.

It took about a week, but Amazon did finally make The Promise of Paradise free. This happened one week ago Tuesday. Within a day, it was climbing some of Amazon's "Top Free" lists, and by Thursday it was #1 in Women's Fiction and Romance. I think it got as high as #45 on the Top Free overall list. Not bad, especially since I didn't do a whole lot of marketing besides tweeting and posting on Facebook about it.

BookBub, a popular email subscription service authors can pay to have their titles listed with, gives a range of 21,000 for Contemporary Romance downloads and 14,000 for Women's Fiction downloads if you advertise with them. In the week it's been free, I've had just over 8000 downloads of The Promise of Paradise, so I'm pretty happy with that (since I've spent $0 on advertising it). Beyond that, I've sold an additional 30 books of Beacon of Love, my other new title, and I attribute those sales to the free downloads, since I do have an excerpt in the back of The Promise of Paradise and tell readers that they'll see a familiar character in Beacon of Love.

Another plus: I've gotten 4 new 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is terrific. That means that The Promise of Paradise is getting to people who have never read anything by me before and will hopefully want to read more.

It turns out the perma-free thing has more benefits than I would have thought. Certainly sales of my other books aren't through the roof, but they've definitely picked up. I'm reaching new readers. And I'm still in the Top 10 of both Free lists in Women's Fiction and Romance, which means many Amazon customers are seeing the title when they're browsing those categories. The fun thing is that I have control over all of this – another plus when it comes to indie publishing! 


Anonymous said...

I just dropped by to congratulate you on your banning from Absolute Write! You're far better off now, though. That place has become a disaster since Jenna G turned it over to that moronic Melodi Sherman. Good luck in whatever you do!

Allie Boniface said...

Hey, thanks! I think I'm better off too :) Thanks for dropping by!