I just have to say....

Here is a blog post worth mentioning; Compared to perfect: the price/value mismatch in content

To cut to the chase here is the bit that grabbed me;

In fact, I do think it's probably true that a low price increases the negative feedback. That's because a low price exposes the work to individuals that might not be raving fans.

Free is a valid marketing strategy. In fact it's almost impossible for an idea to have mass impact without some sort of free (TV, radio, webpages, online videos... they're all free).  At the same time, it's not clear to me that cheaper content outperforms expensive in many areas. As the marginal cost of delivering content drops to zero (all digital content meets this definition), I think there are valid marketing reasons to do the opposite of what economists expect.

Free gets you mass. Free, though, isn't always the price that will help you achieve your goals.

Price is often a signalling mechanism, and perhaps nowhere more than in the area of content. Free enables your idea to spread, price, on the other hand, signals individuals and often ends up putting your idea in the right place. Mass shouldn't always be the goal. Impact may matter more.

This post was common (business) sense. However my view is if you write stand alone novels, don't offer free content/books unless you have an established backlist to rival Nora Roberts. It wont work otherwise (resists urge to roll eyes to make grandmother proud of manners). If you are a series writer, I am of the opinion free for xyz time is better than cheap forever.

Seriously, there is a key difference between free and cheap. He's mixed the two up; low price and free are not interchangeable in this context. With free you do get mass, and with the masses comes dead weight - people simply surfing for a free read, and ready to vomit thoughtless reviews all over the place. But ... there is a strong likeliness you will reach your target audience who you can (who has the answer ready?) ... upsell to. Here is where your backlist, or second, and third books, yada blah, comes in.

Cheap *shudder*. I dislike seeing Indie Authors marketing books using this word. Your work is NOT cheap. You are forced to undervalue it for a number of reasons, but it is not cheap. 

Anyway, this was a bloody good post. Unbalanced in evaluating the free marketing model, but good, yes?


  1. Anonymous1.4.11

    A very thought-provoking blog post! This is something that's playing heavily on my mind as I start to think about launching my first novel. I've always been part of the school that thinks giving your self-published book away for free is tantamount to saying "my work is worthless" but giving the first book in a series away for free, for a limited time, makes business sense to me...

  2. Hm, see, I think undervaluing (a full length novel) is more of a indicator you think your work is worthless than posting it free. But cheaply priced books have worked well for a few individuals, Hocking always springs to mind, but there are many others.

    The word I want to underscore here is 'few'.

    Considering Indie's hold strong to the belief reviews drive sales, offering a book free for X time gives you a better chance of getting reviews on multiple platforms to use when promoting at a decent price point.

    You just have to have a strong stomach, as with greater volume, comes a greater chance a handful of people are not going to like your book at all.

    I have sold TDG at free, .99, and 2.99 (I'm not just preaching, I've tried it). The worst price point (for me) was .99. I think the only place it's still at that price is Kindle, but that's because KTP is slow at making changes :)

    So ... does this mean you may go Indie with Body of Water?!

  3. Anonymous4.4.11

    I've convinced myself that I have no choice *but* to go Indie with Body of Water. As a paranormal fantasy I think it sits OK, but with a gay lead... I'm not so sure.

    Interestingly, I've had little-to-no feedback via wattpad.com but youwriteon.com is a whole different ball game. I think that the YA community aren't that interested in my story but the more mature audiences are OK with my material - I'm just guessing though.

    I was going to go for the 0.99 price point but I think I might plump for the 2.99 and see what happens. The beauty of it, as you've illustrated, is that you can tweak the price and see what happens.

    My instinct tells me that, for Amanda Hocking at least, having a series of books priced at 0.99 encourages people to buy more than one. Maybe if I had a library of books on sale that might work but I'm leaning towards the slightly higher price point right now.