Effect of Free Ebooks

Right after I bought my Kindle last year, I went crazy downloading free ebooks that I found on my buddy Michael Gallagher's blog Free Kindle Books and Tips.

Within a few days I was living proof of the validity of a theory that many ebook authors espouse: offering a book free on actually sells other books. I'd heard this and had read much anecdotal evidence of this, but I proved it to myself that first week.

I'm telling you all this because I've seen this free book conundrum discussed on various Facebook and Linked In groups, several different blogs, and writers' forums. I've been asked via email what I think about it so here's what I think which I'd previously mentioned on the last Ebook Success post about Price.

What Free Does

Free gets you noticed in a big way. That can be good news/bad news all rolled into one. Yes, you get noticed and downloaded, but you also get attention you may not relish from readers who would ordinarily not touch your genre with the proverbial ten foot pole.

You may gain faithful readers, but you also run the risk of getting nasty reviews from the aforementioned crowd with the ten foot poles.

Free can also sell your next book if not your whole book list if readers like what they read.

Free Lead Me To Different Genres

After I started downloading free ebooks last year, I snagged Darkfever: Book 1 of The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. I was hooked from the first sentence. Feverishly, if you'll pardon the pun, I raced through Darkfever, finishing it beyond midnight.

I could not wait for morning, and I couldn't sleep so I turned on the Kindle wireless, went to the Kindle shop, and purchased Bloodfever: Book 2 of The Fever Series. There I was, lying in bed, illuminated only by my Kindle Kandle book light, and I was buying a book!

Surreal! I read a few pages which turned into a few chapters. Only the thought of early morning appointments forced me to turn the Kindle off and lay it on the nightstand.

The next evening, I dived into Bloodfever, finishing it in the wee hours. Did I wait for morning? No, I did not. I went to the Kindle store and purchased each book of the rest of the Fae Series. I finished those and then had to wait until January of this year for the last book in the series. Just writing about all this makes me want to read them again.

Another New Sub-Genre

Fast forward to this year. I just did the same thing again. I downloaded a free ebook by Terri Reid entitled Loose Ends (Book 1: A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery) Great mystery! I'll be posting a review on Amazon for it. Compelling characters, plot, good pacing, and all the other elements that make for a solid mystery. The paranormal was well-done and carefully executed.

What did I do as soon as I finished the first book? I bought the other books in the series.

Free Books Sell Other Books

I don't think we can make a sweeping statement that offering a free book will make readers order your other books. However, I think we can safely say that if a reader downloads the free book and loves the story, the reader will seek out other books by that author.

Since I don't read much paranormal, and I certainly don't read fantasy, I'd never have pulled either of these books I've mentioned off a shelf in a bookstore or sought them out online.

However, a free book with an intriguing description introduced me to two great series of books. From free, I sought; and I bought.

Takeaway Truth

Free is a good way to try something you'd ordinarily not select. Like me, you just may find books that are keepers and authors you will follow to other books where you'll gladly pay the cover price.

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  1. While I like the idea of finding new authors via free books and have done it many times, I've not had a lot of crossover success with my own free reads. Perhaps things are different for the Kindle readers, but you have to hope Amazon will match a free price.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. Terry Odell ... Amazon's policy says they will price match, BUT it takes a long while for that to happen. We had wanted to publish Summer Sizzlers, our book of novel excerpts, and give it away.

    Cindy put it up on Smashwords for free, but, of course, we had to charge at least .99 to get it on Amazon. It took about 3 months for it to go free on Amazon, and that was with us clicking the "found it cheaper at another site" button every week!