?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

The Double-edged Sword of Free

I usually mused about my epublishing business on Packing Heat, but since I won't be updating that content anymore, I figured I could post my mental process about it here and tag it epublishing, and readers can follow or comment as they want to.

Recently I heard a disturbing professional opinion about putting things on sale. Disturbing because I do in fact think it's true, but also because I plan on continuing my sales simply because it's an awesome way to exploit my autonomy.

The theory is this: by putting things on sale, you devalue your product, and you train your readers to wait for sales rather than to buy your things full-price. On the flip-side, I've been happy with the performance of my weekly sales, because it gives me the chance to send my subscribers an email that says, "Hello, I may not be able to produce a book a month, but I am still alive, see?" Also, it encourages readers to buy from me directly rather than having half the price on an ebook go to a middleman.

The best answer I can come up with is that I'm hopefully doing my sales in a mindful enough way, for specific enough thought-out reasons, that I'm not ending up devaluing my own product.

But what about free? Free is a double-edged sword that can cut both ways. People either totally over-value "free" by standing in line half an hour for a free ice cream cone that would normally cost three bucks, or they entirely devalue something that's free and make an extra effort to go put a lousy review on a free read from an author on the web so that everyone can see how delightfully jaded they are.

I got some numbers today that tell me that my PsyCop freebie Thaw was downloaded 5613 times at Barnes and Noble! That's a lot of downloads. How about the reviews? Well, when I try to open the review page, I see it for a quarter of a second and then it snaps shut. I see the average rating is a shitty 2.5 stars, so that probably gives me a good indication of what the reviews might be like.

How many sales has this resulted in? Among the Living sold three copies in that time. About what I'd expect it to sell from over five thousand people tripping and falling on their Nooks while looking at the page.

In this particular case, "free" is clearly not my friend. Does that mean I spaz out over the crappy ratings and run and unpublish my story from B&N's site? No. There are probably some intangibles I'll never know. Maybe a handful of those 5000 people never knew m/m existed and now they do, and they'll come back and find me again someday when they're ready. It certainly hasn't cost me anything.

And these people who are basking in how few stars they can give my free offering are incidental to me, regardless. My first intent when writing a freebie is always to hook a new reader who already loves m/m, maybe a reader who's heard of me but never cared to try my writing for whatever reason. This would happen at a venue where more m/m readers hang out, like a specifically romance-themed or GLBT-themed ebook seller. In tandem with this, equally important, is the urge to make stuff for my current readers and be able to give it to them as a gift with no strings attached, just because I can. I quit my day job because I want to be independent, and being able to give stuff away if I choose to is one way my free spirit can manifest. And finally, by having the freebies available at JCP Books, I convince a few readers it might not be so scary to buy from me direct.

Resources:
Posts tagged "free" on Dan Ariely's Blog. Dan is a behavioral economist, and the author of one of my favorite books, Predictably Irrational
Sarah Petty interviewed on Duct Tape Marketing on Creating a Boutique Business - here's where the comments about devaluing your product came from--a great interview
Sign up for my weekly sales and specials for JCP Books

P.S.
Speaking of sales and freebies, this weekend I will be a featured author at Rainbow eBooks. Among the Living will be free 10/16-10/17, and my other stories there will be 20% off. I suspect it will be a more receptive crowd there than at B&N.

Comments

jordan_c_price
Oct. 15th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
That's nice to hear! Were you already reading m/m when you got your ereader? I think many of the snarky comments come from non-m/m readers who get a free m/m short only because it's free, go "WTF??" and feel the need to berate it.
egret17
Oct. 15th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
Nope. I hadn't read m/m before I got my ereader. I need to poke around in my LibraryThing and see if I can spot the progression. :)
jordan_c_price
Oct. 15th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
WHOA...I'd be totally enraptured to hear about your journey to m/m! That's a very interesting thing, the idea that an ereader can lead someone to saying, "Wow, that's totally my thing!"

I remember my exact moment where I went, "OMG, hot." I was in 8th grade on a field trip to Washington, DC. "The girls" (all 6 of us) were watching Saturday Night Live and the Rolling Stones were playing, and Mick went up to Ron Wood and starting tonguing his cheek.

That was that for me.

I think I've recruited other people over the course of my life, too.
egret17
Oct. 15th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Well, I was completely into David Bowie and the Rocky Horror Picture Show in junior high, when everyone else in my rural MN high school was listening to country and heavy metal... :)
jordan_c_price
Oct. 15th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC)
It must totally start in Junior High. That's when all our weird hormones are surging.

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com