Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Free IS Future (and Past) of E-Book Promotion

In its Trade E-Book Publishing 2009 Report and Book Publishing Report, Simba Information (SimbaInformation.com) reports that 10% of the adult population has read an e-book but only 10% has bought one. That tells me many are giving away e-books at no cost, that many are sharing e-books the same way that people share other books (which isn’t as kosher), or both.

If it’s the former, there must be some big benefits to giving away an e-book. They are:

~Free e-books can--without guilt or qualm--contain ads for other books by that author or publisher. That practice is exactly the same concept as the one used by movie theaters when they run trailers. By the way, literary journals have for years included ads from their sponsors or supporters and we have seen similar business-card size and other display ads in publications like programs and yearbooks for decades.

~Free e-books are sought after by many with readers and thus an author’s style can easily be exposed to people they would never otherwise reach.

~Free e-books can be used as incentives to buy something else. They must, of course, have a high perceived value in order to work that way. The model for this kind of freebie has been used for years by the likes of Estee Lauder and other cosmetic companies. They’re called gifts-with-purchase, or purchase-with-purchase.

I’ve long advised that writers give away e-books at one time or another. I’ve given away my poetry e-books to subscribers and readers of this blog. And I’m planning to do more of it soon. Books--even novels--that have been around for a long time are good candidates for this kind of promotion. Their sales have slowed but they are still ultimately as readable as ever.

Authors can also write books expressly to give away. If you aren’t quite ready for this freebie step, read Chris Anderson’s FREE: The Future of a Radical Price. You’ll get tons of ideas.

If you’re still not ready, publish something with a very low price as an e-book or booklet and see what you can do with it in terms of furthering your writing career. An example of that model is my $6.95 paperback Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy. (www.budurl.com/WordTripperPB). It will soon be out on Kindle, too.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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