Writer's Update: Does giving away books do any good?

How goes the battle?
First things first:  what's going on with the writing? Sad reality: making major improvements in a manuscript is... hard work. And I'm not always up for that. I'm really trying, though, and still hope to have some real progress before I leave for the desert at the end of the month. I won't promise to have a finished revision, though. Some days it progresses, some days it doesn't.

The business of writing: promotions
Last week was the Smashwords "Read an ebook week" sale. I put nearly all my books on sale at up to 50% off, and selected three to be free, in addition to the two BookElves anthologies in which I have stories. Here's the result: I gave away 13 books for free. I sold none. Will those 13 free books get me any additional readers? That's the hope, but I have my doubts. How many books are on your ereader, picked up because they were free and it was easy? We do what we can to encourage people to move on to the next book for a modest payment (because my books cost me time and yes, money). But how many of those free books are even read? One? Two? And then the person has to not only like it well enough to pay for another, but actually act on that liking. 

I think about how I am about following up when I've enjoyed a book, and how often the next in the series slips away before I get around to getting hold of it. I think this sales model is asking other people to be, I don't know, more responsible to the writer? than I am.

It doesn't make sense.

I've decided before that I wouldn't give my work away, but I keep going back, in part because my books are already priced so low that for most, the only way to offer any discount is to make them free. And with so many other writers happily (apparently) offering their work for free, no one wants to pay 99 cents for an unknown work. I get that. I'm just not sure what I want to do about that.

I do know that I need to update my author pages at Smashwords and Amazon alike. I don't know if it will help, but it can't hurt. So there's something to do when my brain refuses to wrestle with the plot holes.

By the way: small factoid, but you should know that while my books are priced the same everywhere, I get the highest royalty on sales directly from Smashwords. That would be true for any indy author publishing there. If you are an ebook reader, consider buying at Smashwords--you can get any and every format there.

My Smashwords Page--or click on the collage at the top of the page, which shows all my covers!


©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
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  1. Keep going with the edits, you'll get there :)

    Well done on 13 'sales'! We've discussed it before, and I agree with you entirely. I 'sold' about ten short story volumes and two Princelings #1 (all free). The Princelings was good, since I was at a birthday lunch with some people I was talking to about writing and mentioned the sale! So I have more hope for that being the start of something. Which comes down to word of mouth, of course. I've spent far too much money on online advertising and tours, and it's rarely made much impression.

    You never know, someone might feature your books during the A to Z Challenge!

    1. I know we have talked about it--all the more reason I'm kind of shaking my head at my return to doing it. I think at the year-end sale I only dropped prices, no free books, and I did sell one or two--so maybe there's my answer.


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