Are you trying to think of ways to jumpstart your book’s visibility so that you increase your sales? If you are, you may be thinking about giving your book away for free either on a temporary basis on a permanent basis. There are lots of reasons authors choose to give their work away, and lots of reasons why authors don’t give their books away. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

1. Your Free Readers Will Talk About Your Book

The hope is that by giving your book away for free, you will attract additional readers for the book via word of mouth who will buy it later. We all want this to be true. We want to be able to create a firestorm over our books and attract thousands of readers so that those readers will tell other book lovers so that, all of a sudden, you’re booming.

The reality is that free books are not valued as highly by readers as books there they plunked down a few dollars. This is like that spiral vegetable slicer you got at the grocery store because you listened to the sales pitch for a $50 manual slicer/dicer/chopper. You’re super happy to get that spiral vegetable slicer because you want spiral French fries and potato chips. You eager run away from the sales counter, complete your grocery shopping, buy a few more potatoes and vegetables than normal, and run home to try out that new free spiral vegetable slicer. You open the small box and find a razorblade on a pole. After realizing just how dangerous that little contraption is, you box it up quick and shove it in a closet. Your free book is going to be viewed a lot like that razorblade on a pole. It’s a neat little thing that is nice to have, but you’re probably never going to use it because the odds of seriously cutting yourself are extremely high. The reader thinks the same thing of your free book. It may be good, but the odds are not in favor of a free book being any good. After all, in order to get it to move, the author had to give it away.

2. Your Free Readers Will Review Your Book

The hope here is that your free readers will go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever they got your free book and post a review, and the more reviews you get, the more likely you are to attract additional readers. This goes hand-in-hand with number one. In order to review your book, the reader has to read your book, and readers are, unfortunately, less likely to read a free book than they are one they purchased. Now, there are people who solely go after free books to read them, and they only acquire free books. Your free book may attract a few of those people, and maybe they’ll review it. However, the odds are not in favor that your free book downloader will place an Amazon review, unless they really really hated or loved the book.

3. Lots of People Will Download It, Increasing Your Rank and Exposure

This is an old advantage. It used to be that free books and paid books were ranked in the same lists. This gave the author the ability to give away a book and permanently increase their book’s ranking, specifically on Amazon, which is about 80% of the book sales market currently. This meant that once the book reverted back to its paid status, it kept its new rank, and this was highly advantageous for indie authors who needed more exposure and could not afford paid advertising or paid anything.

Amazon has since done away with this. There are 2 ranking lists, including paid and free. When you make your book free to readers, it goes on the FREE list, and its rank is increased for every free version downloaded. Once your free promotion ends, the book reverts back to the paid lists and loses every slot it gained.

Now, if you are wondering if you should give your book away for free, that decision is up to you. If you have given your book away or refuse to give it away, let us know your reasons in the comments.



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