Does the offer of a Free Book entice you to join a mailing list?
Once you get your book, what is your most likely action?
Pertaining to the book.
a. I read the book immediately.
b. I read the book in a few days.
c. I add the book to my immense collection of freebies and may someday read it.
Pertaining to the membership.
d. I immediately unsubscribe from the list because I agreed
to sign up, not to stay.
e. I wait a reasonable time (a month) before I unsubscribe.
f. I stay with the membership because I’m interested in the author.
g. I stay with the membership hoping for more freebies.
Pertaining to emails sent from the author.
h. I delete them.
i. I have them tagged by the junk filter so I never see them.
j. I click on some once in a while.
k. I click on each one to see if there are more freebies.
l. I click on them because I truly want to hear from the author.
Most self-published authors will likely be surprised at the number of options. I was when I began asking friends, family, and acquaintances about the topic. Their answers populated the above list.
I seldom join a mailing list in response to a free-book offer because I get my free books from Amazon’s Top 100 Free. I only download a free book if I already like the author or if the blurb and reviews really grab me. I don’t want three thousand books in my library. I prefer one hundred really good ones that I can re-read every couple of years.
However, I’m the exception, not the rule. I do know readers whose digital libraries have thousands of books, most of them unread. They take special pleasure in getting free books. It’s the equivalent of having a digital music library of thousands of songs. Most of us listen only to about 5% of our music.
As an author, I found this information rather unsettling. I have a few offerings on Instafreebie, a service for which I actually pay. Readers do not pay. They get the books for free.
Instafreebie says they have thousands of dedicated, loyal readers who will populate my mailing list and become avid readers of my work! An avid reader is great if he pays for my work. Otherwise, it’s like funding a reader’s welfare system.
I do understand the draw of freebies. I love Rick Mofina’s books and was thrilled to get several of them as free downloads in Amazon’s Top 100 Free. Now, I keep waiting for the next free offering from him. I’d be really irritated if I paid for the next book only to see it offered for free next week. It’s not that I won’t pay for a book; I buy most of my books. It’s that I feel cheated if I pay and everyone else gets if for free.
One author I fell in love with years ago is Monique Martin. Her first book, Out of Time, was a free download. She never offered the others for free, so I bought each one, some on sale. I bought them realizing that I could wait forever and never get another for free. I loved her work, so I spent the money.
As an author, my expectation is that every free book I give away, will quickly (or relatively soon) be read. Hopefully, one in five readers will love my work and actually buy the next book in the series or try another book by me. Another hope is that said readers will write reviews even if they don’t buy the next book.
Expectations are unrealistic where the numbers show otherwise. Several articles I read last year claim that a free book is ten times less likely to be read than a paid one. Also, the more a reader pays for a book, the more likely he or she is to read it. Amazon actually has numbers that support this. Their system keeps page-read counts for every book they sell/download.
Analyzing my mailing list, I learned quite a bit. It’s important to note that I send out very few emails. First, I was surprised by how many members stay on but seldom or never open a message. Those I believe are the ones that set the filters to send mailing lists emails to junk. They probably never see the email.
A small percentage unsubscribe as soon as the first email arrives. Interestingly, some sign up every time I offer a new title and unsubscribe shortly after. These only want the free books and feel no guilt about working the system.
A significant number do stay and open emails once in a while; these are the majority. Many stay as members and open most messages. I appreciate those and try my best never to spam them.
I have author friends who send out constant emails to their members. They do things like ask questions such as “What is your favorite fairy tale?” and “What topic do you want me to write about?” They claim that readers love to be engaged by their authors. Personally, I don’t want to annoy my readers with silly questions.
My lessons learned determine my marketing strategy. I only give away samples (a few chapters) of my books. A reader will know by the end of the 3rd chapter whether the novel is one he can’t put down. I usually know by end of 1st chapter.
I will gift full books to members of my Beta group. A good beta reader is worth his or her weight in gold, and most authors will be very grateful. I have found that offering books in return for fair reviews does not work either. If fifty readers respond and are given the book, maybe three or four actually keep their word and do the review.
What kind of reader are you? Are you likely to be swayed by the offer of a free book? Do you unsubscribe soon after? Are you likely to buy a book by an author who gave you a free one? Do you read the free books, or do you tend to hoard them?
I’d love to read your comments.
NOTE: If you’re interested in joining my Beta group, email me at .
Beta readers get the book before publishing. I ask them to read deeply and give me their thoughts on how to improve the book before the book is finalized. Beta books must be read as soon as possible so that changes can be made before release date.