A few words of questionable wisdom from author Al W Moe - you can leave questions on each blog or go to my profile for direct email.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sacrificing Your First Born (Book) to the Masses

Want to be a successful self-published author? Consider sacrificing your first born new book to the reading (and buying) masses. Driving future sales with current book giveaways is one of the best aspects of Amazon's Kindle program. The marketing aspects are sound - introduce readers to an author's work and hope there's a land-swell of interest and word of mouth that propels new sales.

Read New Books for Free

Readers can hardly pass up a free book. For instance,  Oct. 29 and 30, readers can download Jessie B Tyson's book, White Heaven Women (a supernatural ghost story), and read from start to finish at their leisure at no cost. That's great.

Unfortunately, even if the idea of a free book is sound (and Jessie is only giving it away free for a short time), it only translates to future sales if the author's book is exceptional. That doesn't mean the writing has to be great (honest, it doesn't), it means the story has to be great. Readers don't care nearly as much as paid critics do about an occasional grammar slip. Readers want a story!

With physical books, a great cover can translate to many new sales. Seeing a book on your friends coffee table with a catchy cover is enough to start a discussion and boom: book sales. Books online via Nook or Kindle (and other readers) don't have that hook, but free books can help.

The Real Key

However, the real key to successful book sales (beyond the obvious STORY, STORY, STORY) when using a free book as a driver, is to have other books for the satisfied masses to buy. New writers can learn a lot from those who have already been successful like M. R. Mathias - he of the Dragon stories.

Mathias figured out his audience, he's prolific (over a dozen books and stories for sale), and he's got a few freebies that are always available. You can read his 77-page novella The First Dragoneer for free and see if you like the style, which many, many people have done. Then, you may be inclined to do what about a zillion other people have done:

Pay for Other Books

Yes, Mr. Mathias gives away a lot of books, but because he has a back-list of titles, he knows many readers will turn to his "for sale" books, and he'll make money from those. I know, because several of his best books, like The Sword and the Dragon, are fun to read and selling great on Amazon and on other eBook devices.

When readers find an author they really like, they'll buy all of their books. Giving away free copies or even 99-cent copies makes a lot of sense when you have other books to sell. If you have but one book, well, free and 99-cent books may not be the way to go! $2.99 is probably where you should be - and I'll explain that next week!

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe


  1. Um.... you're a book marketing expert but you've only just discovered about the Amazon free promotions? We've all been doing them for quite a while now...!

  2. Thanks for the note. You are correct,it is now a time-honored tradition, but not all readers have your experience. All new authors need the exposure a limited free-offering can bring. And (from blog),"Giving away free copies or even 99-cent copies makes a lot of sense when you have other books to sell. If you have but one book, well, free and 99-cent books may not be the way to go!"