Does Leveraging “Free” Give-Aways Increase Royalties?
The Short Answer: Yes.
The Long Answer: Only if you know what you are doing.
I am not going to wade into the esoteric debate of whether or not you should give a book you have worked on for months and months (sometimes years and years) away for free. I’m just not that kind of esoteric girl.
To me, “free” is simply one more price point available, especially through KDP Select, to help increase my royalties.
So now the only question we must answer is…Does free work? Does it generate more royalties?
For me and everyone else I work with, yes.
Since I love math and real numbers so much, let me give you some examples.
This month I participated in a Free Par-Tay where several dozen authors banded together and pooled resources. I gave away (across eight books) 100,000 copies.
I am now on target to sell well over 10,000 copies this month. If we add in international sales, I am looking at over 13,000.
The event as a whole gave away over 1,000,000 books, and is on target to sell over 100,000 copies post-free.
Will I give away ten copies to get a sale? You betcha.
Notice, though, that I said you had to know what you are doing to really leverage free into paid royalties.
Gone are those halcyon days of yore, you know, back in December 2011, when you could just throw a book up for free and rack up the downloads—and then sales.
The Amazon matrix has changed. You are no longer getting credited one sale for every download (in relation to the internal recommendation queue). This equal exchange rate is what helped push so many sales post-free when KDP Select first came out.
From external measures, it now appears that you need three free downloads to count as a “sale.” Which means you need to give away three times as many books to sell the same amount in your immediate post-free window as you did in December. Therefore, your transition from free to paid is a bit more rocky and unpredictable.
Another downside of a solo “free” is that coming out of your free run, your recommendation queue is a hot mess, meaning titles that have nothing to do with your book fill your queue, and you are out in some pretty odd queues as well.
So if you plan to use free, do so intelligently.
Research the market (which days currently are best to start your free run, how many days seem to be working best, etc.), figure out your paid ad options (Kindle Nation Daily, Pixel of Ink, Digital Book Today), and either join a group event or make one of your own.
If you are a small press, find a consultant who knows how to create, organize, and execute a successful event.
The power of “free” can either be harnessed for higher royalties, or it can blow up in your face, leaving your book stranded out in the boondocks of rankings with an internal recommendation queue that appears to have been cobbled together by chimpanzees.