Not long after I posted an article about Google Play, the airwaves were abuzz with horror stories about GP’s pricing policies. As noted in my article (and many others), GP reserves the right to discount books without notice or permission. Note: Many authors know to increase their usual book prices on GP to avoid triggering Amazon’s price-matching policy. If you missed it, Author Ruth Harris added a GP pricing strategy in her comment on my post.
Now we’re hearing that GP is also making books FREE without notice or permission, and it’s creating bad blood, with some authors removing their books from the platform completely. Read the KindleBoards thread. Note: My understanding is that when GP discounts a book to free, they still pay the author any commission they would have earned if the book was sold at full price. It’s understandable that authors resent GP’s pricing manipulations, but if you can live with it and you’re into free, that’s not a bad deal.
I believe the real missed opportunity here is that GP is NOT notifying the author of these forced free days – they don’t understand how aggressively we market our cheap-and-free book promos. Maybe they’ll smarten up, maybe they won’t. But before you run screaming for the exits, make a decision that’s right for you. If you hate anyone messing with your stuff, give GP the boot. If you like living on the edge and consider the whole thing an adventure, stay put or climb on board the GP crazy train.
It’s clear that authors who are successful and earning well from their titles do not need to deal with Google Play, but for those of us grappling with discoverability – and who are not anti-free book promos, GP is still an option. But be aware that if your books are available on GP, you’ll need to monitor pricing carefully. If GP puts your title up free and you don’t want it to continue, you can simply delete the title.
Note: Amazon MAY email you when they become aware that one of your titles is offered at a lower price on another platform and before they move to price match, but they may not. I’ve been “warned” about lower pricing on B&N, but never about a lower price on Kobo.
So. If you’re on the fence about free book promos, low-cost pricing, and selling on multiple platforms, I’ve included blurbs and links to three excellent posts – hope these help!
Why Free Is Your Best Marketing Tool And How To Harness It
One of the best articles I’ve ever read about the real power of free. Per Penny Sansevieri, “I had an author who did a freebie last year who gave away 37,000 copies of her book over 2 days. The day after the promotion ended she sold 1,300 books. Now, you may gasp at that 37,000 number but consider this: the old way of thinking is viewing these as lost sales. The new way is to view this as a conversion number. The higher the number, the better the conversion
Now, we all know that some people just love downloading free. They’ll never read it and probably never become a fan. Then you have the folks who downloaded it thinking it was something it wasn’t. They open the book, thinking it’s X when it’s really Y. You don’t want those people, either. But then there’s the core readership.
Out of a big number like 37,000, that may only be 1,000 readers. Again you may gasp, but stay with me for a minute because what I’m going to show you will blow away several outdated marketing theories. You only care about that sliver of readers. The 1,000 who will open the book, read the book and (if you’re lucky) write a review. Why? Because that’s how you start building those Super Fans I mentioned previously.” Read the rest of this article on HuffPo.
Who’s Afraid of Very Cheap Books?
I love the points David Gaughran makes about low book pricing. Per David, “A common meme in publishing is that cheap books are destroying the world or literature, and that low prices are undermining the viability of publishing or writers’ ability to make a living. I’ve long thought this position is nonsense – a narrative which plays on misplaced fears of change and a confusion of price and value, which is also based on flawed assumptions and analog, zero-sum thinking. And, if anything, the opposite is true …” Read the rest of this article on David’s blog.
Breaking Free – What Happened when I left KDP Select
This article is a stellar example of the power of book sales on multiple platforms. Per Nick Stephenson, “I talk to a lot of authors who have a strong opinion on the relative merits of signing up for 90 days of exclusivity with Amazon, and the words “shackled” and “dungeon” come up a lot. It’s the same for free days – half of authors think they’re a God-send, the other half would rather cut off their own limbs with a rusty spatula than offer their work gratis. And that’s cool, I don’t have anything against people having wildly different opinions – and there are plenty of authors making a decent income without touching free promotions, and there are plenty who swear by them. But I like to look at the cold, hard numbers before coming to a conclusion, as everybody’s mileage seems to vary.
The two main strategies for free books I see most often are:
- A variety of titles signed up to KDP Select, with rotating free promotions on each book. This is pretty easy to do with the 5 free days you get to play with under the KDP Select contract.
- Titles NOT in KDP select, and up on other vendors, with the first book in the series permanently free. This is also pretty easy to do.
There are pros and cons for both approaches, but last month was the first time I’d tried option number (2). I’ve had a bunch of emails and comments asking for me to report back on the results, so here’s the skinny …” Read the rest of this article on Nick’s blog.
Readers, what do you think about free book giveaways, low pricing, or making your books available on multiple platforms? Please leave a comment and share!
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