That is the question, on my mind today. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and articles around the internet about what to charge for our work, working for exposure, and holding giveaways.
The best one this week was from super-blogger Kristen Lamb. It addresses the idea that aggregators want our content, they make money on it, but we are expected to provide it for the exposure it brings. Everyone reads Kristen Lamb, but in case you missed it, this is the link.
I’ve written before about my experiences using Kindle Countdown Deals, and the free days I’m allowed under the KDP program. I was not, and am still not impressed. Once upon a time I held a free day for Panama. It went high enough up the charts to get into the high teens. (the free chart.)
I watched like a hawk. I never received a single review out of the hundreds of copies I moved.(Close to a thousand, actually.) I have a hunch that free was appealing, but actually reading the book wasn’t high on the list. The day after it went back available for purchase, sales were a flat line. Panama still sells to this day, but in drips and drabs.
Yet this is what we’re told to do to gain exposure. So what’s a writer to do?
I won’t do the free days any more. My books are pretty cheap as it is. You can’t buy a coffee in most shops for less than what I charge for a book.
I still give out free copies, but it’s on my terms. I’ve never refused someone who asked. I’m just not likely to give away electronic crates full of them any time soon.
I believe in providing free content, and do it in other ways. All of my writing cabin tales could be looked at as little free stories, even though they contain word metrics and other issues I’m dealing with as a writer. The most recent example was Lisa Burton blasting into space with her rocket-pack. (In celebration of finishing a short story involving that rocket-pack.) I also post some micro-fiction during October every year.
I haven’t gone down the path of creating a newsletter. If I did, I would certainly include some original micro-fiction. I just don’t want to force feed it to anyone. It’s here on the blog sometimes. You can check the categories in my sidebar if you need a fix. There’s even a vignette that led to my current effort, The Yak Guy Project. The Muse category holds all of my writing cabin posts. The Short Stories and Vignettes category has a few items too.
I also have the Lisa Burton paper dolls as a permanent feature. Print as many as you want. They aren’t fiction, but they are free.
As an ebook guy, I can’t do the Goodreads giveaways. I’ve never failed to participate in any RaffleCopter type project I’ve been invited to.
I’ve also written things upon request for other bloggers. This is more one-on-one, like asking for a copy of a book. The other blogger didn’t sell what I provided and offer me exposure. I like to think we both benefited from the shared effort.
Personally, I don’t think skipping the freebies is hurting me. Maybe one of you will convince me otherwise.
Right now, I’m of the mindset that marketing myself is just as important as marketing any single title I have. I have a few crazy ideas that I’m mulling over right now. If nothing else, they will be unique. Watch this space.
Let me hear from you. Have you benefited in any tangible way from making your books free? Did this bread cast upon the waters come back to you? Would you write something, then donate it to a “for profit” operation to gain exposure? (Not the same as donating to a charity.) Did you benefit from doing it in any measurable way?