Home > Featured Author/Interviews > Blog Book Fair Guest Post: The Joys of Freebie Titles by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Blog Book Fair Guest Post: The Joys of Freebie Titles by Natasha Duncan-Drake

I’d just like to say thanks to Drako for hosting my guest post today. I hope you enjoy my choice of topic.

So, about eBook freebies. I’m a self-published author and the hardest thing about publishing a book is getting it noticed. It’s like dropping a pebble in a huge lake and expecting the person standing on the other side to realise you did it.

There are, of course, the obvious things in making your book look attractive to potential readers:

  • A decent cover that doesn’t look like you just put comic sans on a free photo.
  • Blurb that will make them want to read the book. If I find a book it doesn’t matter if it’s free or expensive, if there is a mistake in the blurb I am very unlikely to take a closer look.

My sister and I also started our own press (Wittegen Press) so we had a brand. It also means we have a website that gives us a central, professional looking place to point our readers, from which they can choose their buying platform.

However, this doesn’t help when it comes to trying to make readers see your book above the flood of other titles out there. You need to get your book onto the page their surfing or they’re never going to have a chance to like the cover or the blurb.
Before Amazon started KDP Select (something I have issues with because it seems very anti-competitive) it was much easier. You needed a heap of friends to keep telling Amazon your book was free elsewhere so they would price match it and once you managed to make them listen your book dropped into a much smaller pool. Now you’re competing with all the ‘free for 5 days books’, but I still think price matching is the way to go.
This post isn’t going to go into all the ways you can promote a free eBook, just Google ‘how to promote free eBooks’ and it will give you lots of ideas. What I want to discus is how I have used free eBooks to increase sales and how I think they work best.
I have used KDP select once and the five free days out of three months was definitely not worth the exclusive tie-in. For all the difference it made I could have sold more books on the other eBook sites. Because of how many people are using KDP select now I really don’t think the five free days are much use to anyone.
The way I use free books is to have permanently free books in series that also contain for sale books.
I have a set of books called the Soul Reader Series which, at the moment, contains three books. The first book (Forgotten Soul) is a novelette at 10K wds, the second book (Forbidden Soul) is a novella at 22.5K wds and the third book (Fortunate Soul) is a short story at 6.5K wds. When I published the first book I made it very clear that this would be a series where the shorter books were free and the novella books would be reasonably priced. Each book also contains information and links to the others on the main company website so that they are all easy to find.
The first book went really well as a free book, reaching the top ten in erotica and gay categories for free books on Amazon. When the second book was released it sold comparatively well thanks to people finding it via the first book. However, when the third book was released for free as well the sales improved even more. I’m hoping when the fourth book is published it will also sell well.
I sell more of Forbidden Soul each month on Amazon than all my other books combined.
I’m also a big supporter of the short story. With the rise of electronic devices and low priced eBooks we are seeing the rise of the short story. People do not always want to leap into a novel. If they sit down for coffee or lunch or on the train home, they might want something quick.
The Soul Reader Series could easily have been a novel (or a couple of novels as it grows), but dividing it up, making each instalment a story in its own right, seems to appeal to modern readers and it lets me give parts away easily. I make less money per copy on Amazon because of their 35%/75% rule (they only give 35% royalties on book below $2.99 and 75% above that), but I shift a hell of a lot more and I plan to have many books in the series.
I don’t think free books work so well with novels (other people may have had a different experience) and I suspect that’s to do with simple human nature. I know it makes no sense, but I’d much rather read a free short story than a free novel because if it’s crap I won’t have wasted that much time on it. I’d probably actually give up on reading either in the same time frame if they turned out to be bad, but that is logical thinking and not what my brain says when I’m looking through free books on my kindle and trying to figure out what to read.
Another way I have used freebies is to encourage people to tweet and review. First things first, I definitely don’t expect five star reviews to receive the freebies and I make this very clear, because I’m not into bribing people to be nice about my book. What I want is honest reviews and I’m bribing people to be bothered to click that button and write a few words. For my series The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman I have a set of short stories for which you have to do various things. If you tweet you get one, if you Facebook like you get another, if you review you get a third etc. and if you do three or more of these things you get all of them (so they do actually have an option not to review at all).
It worked for getting feedback and tweets and basically a bit of free publicity. However, it’s a lot of work that I have not repeated for any of my other books because it really hasn’t helped much on sales. I think it might have done in the very beginning, but Amazon keep changing the rules and the goal posts on how they deal with KDP books and it doesn’t seem to help much anymore.

So there you have it, my experience with using free eBooks to sell my other books. I would say they are a great way to get noticed, but they work much better as a permanent feature as part of a series in my experience.

Have you used free eBooks to sell your other work? Do you read free books? Do you have any questions about using free eBooks?

The Soul Reader Series by Tasha D-Drake (aka Natasha Duncan-Drake):

John McElroy knows that at best he can be called a male escort and at worst a whore. He sells his blood to vampire clients and it’s a full service industry; what the client wants the clients gets whether it be sex or just a meal. John survives using the acting skills he picked up in his old life before he knew some people came with fangs. He keeps his emotions remote, but then he meets Michael Cooper, a vampire who changes everything.

Forgotten Soul
Forbidden Soul
Fortunate Soul

Me, Myself and I by Tasha D-Drake

Me, Myself and I

Tristan is an actor and he plays a supervillain in the movies. At least he thought he did, but then he has an accident and he wakes up surrounded by the world of the films. Now he has to figure out if he’s hallucinating, if somehow the movies are real and he’s been transplanted to another world or if he is actually Devon, a supervillain having a psychotic break. Whatever the answer: it’s frighteningly crazy.

“Me, Myself and I” is a sci-fi novelette (~15.5Kwds), with a heavy side of male/male romance.

This is the first story in the Dark Reflections Series, the second title will follow soon.

The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman by Natasha Duncan-Drake

When Charlie has the powers of the Cat Spirit forced upon him, he gains the ability to change shape into a cat and travel between worlds, but he has no idea how it all works.  Unless he wants to be stuck with a tail his only choice is to go to the magical dimension of Between to meet and train with the six chosen of the other great spirits, all but one of whom are just teenagers like him.

With the help of Akari, his mentor; the Seer, a girl who is actually older than Charlie can fathom and, as the name suggests, has visions; and his new comrades, he has to learn to control himself, take on a quest to stop an evil warlord from gaining some very power magical artefacts, and figure out who is attacking Between. If he fails existence might just fail with him.

Cat’s Call
Cat’s Creation
Cat’s Confidence
coming soon

Natasha Duncan-Drake
Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Livejournal | G+ | Wittegen Press Author Page

About the Author: Tasha started writing as a pre-teen and has never stopped. She used to be a software engineer and database designer before she decided to follow her dream to be a writer full time. With her twin sister she created Wittegen Press, a small e-Book press for publishing genre fiction. Her books include novels in the contemporary fantasy, crime and horror genres as well as many short stories and novelettes in every genre from sci-fi to romance. When she’s not writing she’s usually reading, watching vampire movies, baking or polishing her Photoshop skills.


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