Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Indie life: fishing for readers

Welcome to Indie Life -- the second Wednesday of the month! Time to talk about the realities of self-publishing in the middle of the ongoing sea change that ebooks have wrought.

Back in my very first Indie Life post I offered some thoughts on ebook pricing. Firstly, holy crap I've been doing Indie Life for almost a year now -- and I just found out this is the last Indie Life (more on that later). Secondly, I want to talk about why I made Disciple, Part I available for free. Thirdly, a look at the impact it's had.

First one's free
I was going to call the strategy a "loss leader" but the addiction model is more accurate. It's long been attributed to drug dealers, but I ran into this strategy the first time I walked into a Krispy Kreme shop. After watching that mesmerizing machine and following donuts on their journey through the proofer, the fryer, and the frosting, one of the smiling employees picked up a fresh, hot donut and handed it to me.

Oil. Sugar. Warm as a fresh kill. Every predatory button in my hindbrain got mashed and I was hooked. That was no accident, on Krispy Kreme's part. Hats off to their strategy. (I can only eat them fresh off the machine, though.)

Getting back to Disciple, my purpose in giving away Part I for free is to hook readers. Yes, anybody could download a 20% sample for free when it was selling for 99 cents, but giving them the whole novella gets the hook in deeper. Instead of stopping at a random point in the middle, they reach the open-ended question at the end and the cover of Part II is right there to click on.

Addiction needs reinforcement
What if I'd made Part I free when I first published it? Sure, that probably would have gotten me more downloads, but the readers would not have had something to buy when they got to that open-ended question at the end. They would've had to wait, and that means they could easily have forgotten all about me by the time Part II came out.

Crunchy numbers
Disciple, Part I became free on Amazon somewhere around December 30th. Total free downloads for January, at Amazon, was 1,424. Here's my updated sales chart (its previous incarnation):

Impact? Yes. And Part IV comes out March 1st -- not that far off. Hopefully, readers will remember. Some of them have joined my newsletter list to get a reminder. I put a link to that at the end of each book, too.

Amazon reset Part I to 99 cents at the end of January. I'm working on fixing that. 

Last Indie Life week
I got an email yesterday informing me that Indelibles is pulling the plug and inviting everyone to join the Insecure Writer's Group... which is all well and good, but insecurity is not a topic that particularly interests me. I want to keep talking about the realities of self-publishing, so I think I will. Does anyone want to join me?

Disciple, Part I is FREE at Nook • Smashwords • more!
(Kindle/MOBI format is free at Smashwords)

1 comment:

Liz A. said...

I can't tell you how many free books have hooked me into reading more by the author. (Of course, some free books turn me off of other authors...) It's a good strategy.

I had not heard the drug dealer comparison before, but it is apt. I may have to steal that from you...

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