Confessions of an Ignorant Book Marketer – Advice Sought!

photo from

Am I making this harder than it should be?

Leave it free or stop the freebie? That is the question.

A detailed recap of the situation so far: a couple days ago, I was surprised to discover that Amazon was offering my ebook, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for free. It turns out this happened because Amazon will not be undersold, and Sony-US (also unbeknownst to me) was offering the book for free … That, in turn, happened because Sony-US did not update its price after a free promotion ended on Smashwords (which distributes to Sony-US). Sony-US  has now  updated its price, so Amazon has no reason to continue the free promotion.

If that recap is confusing and doesn’t seem worth the time to sort out, here is the bottom line: it is now up to me. Do I continue the free promotion on Amazon?  Answer: I dunno. So: anyone with experience or opinion, please weigh in!

Here are my conflicting facts and questions:

  • In a couple days, there have been more than 1000 free downloads (to me that seems like a lot)!
  • Are these downloaders readers? reviewers? Or simply hoarders of free stuff?
  • My first priority as a writer is to have people actually read my novels.
  • My second priority is to get reviews on line.
  • Third priority (yet still a priority!) is to have people purchase my novels.
  • My “sales” ranking among the free ebooks has moved from infinity to measurable.
  • The “sales” rankings seem quite sensitive to minor variations in totals. Mine now  fluctuates between #200 and #400.
  • How long might it take to break the Top 100 Free Ebooks list?
  • Is there value in doing so?

What do you think about maintaining the freebie? I’m inclined to let it ride for a few more days and see what evolves. Is there a downside I’m not seeing?

P.S. To download your own free copy of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, start here.

P.P.S. Photo from


4 thoughts on “Confessions of an Ignorant Book Marketer – Advice Sought!

  1. Not having published a book yet, I can only speak as a reader. I love free books on kindle, because they give me a chance to check out new authors. I’m fairly hesitant to buy a book by a completely unknown-to-me writer (especially if it seems to be self-published; I’ve come across far too many self-published books that are in dire need of an editor) but I have no problem giving anything free a try. I’ve found many of my new favorite writers through free (or very cheap kindle books.) And once I find someone I like, I buy their other books. One example of how this works for some authors is Hugh Howey (Wool). He self published the first part of the series up for free on Amazon, and it grew so much demand after awhile that he not only sold the series to a traditional publisher (making a deal to keep ALL his digital rights!) but now it’s being made into a film. Amazing story.


    • Thanks for those insights. So when you are considering a new writer, a free sample of the first third of the book is not enough? Do too many books go south after that?


      • The first third is enough to tell about the writing, but I guess it comes down to the fact that I’m more likely to read a book if I get the entire thing for free. And if I read it, and I like it, I’m very likely to run to Amazon and buy something else she has written. I’m trying to analyze my reading/buying patterns as I write this – I’ve never really thought about this before! I think the problem with free samples is that there often isn’t enough there to really get me addicted to the story. There are always exceptions, of course, but many samples that I like merely end up on the “to buy sometime” list, whereas a free book that I really like tends to invest me with the writer, and then I feel more of an impetus to go buy more books. I buy a lot of .99 books by unknown authors too. I really think it’s in a writer’s best interest to have at least one of their books free or priced low. I rarely buy anything by an unknown if costs much more, but I’ll happily pay higher prices for authors I’ve read before.


      • Thanks for taking the time to reply in depth, much food for thought there.


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