Wednesday, April 11, 2018

5 Ways To Use Free As An Author

When I was recording a recent episode of the Stark Reflections on Writing & Publishing podcast, I began reflecting on the various ways that an author can leverage FREE in order to build their author platform.
Below are those points, quickly summarized.

1) To Get Readers Hooked on a New Series

Offering the first book in a series free can bring a large funnel of new readers to your books. And, for authors who perhaps don't have more than a few books in that series, sometimes offering a free short story that is linked to that series is a great way to get people to try out your characters and their unique world/setting.


2) To Get Fans To Sign Up To Your Author Newsletter

It's always best when you have the ability to share, with those who are interested enough in your writing to sign up to receive regular updates from you, an easy way to reach out to them. Creating a newsletter using MailChimp or AWeber or one of many other newsletter services.

Example: Sign up form for my own author newsletter

3) To Get Reviews

Books with reviews are twice as likely to sell as a book with no review. It's just part of the social proof that so many people rely on when they are shopping online.

If you can get a decent volume of people to pick up your book, you increase your odds of getting them to post a review of that book. So, offering a book, perhaps to your dedicated newsletter readers in advance of a public release, or temporarily offering the book for free as part of a special promotion, often tied in with a book promotion booked directly at Kobo via the Kobo Writing Life tool, or using Freebooksy or BookBub or some other online paid promo spot can help increase reader reviews.

Example: My pal Sean Costello and I have gotten almost 4000 reviews on Amazon and 156 reviews on Kobo by offering the novel Squall as perma-free.

4) To Get Feedback or To Engage With Readers

For some authors, it's not about selling, but rather just about getting people to read their writing. While authors can certainly use Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook and Google Play to make their work available for free, they can also choose to publish their work on a Blogger or WordPress blog for free, or use a website like Wattpad.

Wattpad is a great interactive community of readers and writers. Since all the reading there is free, and there are tens of millions of readers.

Example: I have rec'd more than 200,000 reads and almost 5,000 ratings for my thriller Evasion on Wattpad, since making it free there even before I published the ebook, paperback and audiobook.

5) To Drive Traffic, Especially Returning Traffic

Authors such as Kristine Kathryn Rusch, M.L. Buchman and T S Paul use regularly scheduled free content offerings for their fans and readers. They have each cultivated not only a sense of good will (offering up free content, no strings attached), but have seen great increases in returning traffic and a more heightened and engaged community of loyal readers, many of who, in turn, are happy to pay for that free content to show their own return support of an author they admire and enjoy reading.


An example of how FREE "first in series" converts to sales, taken from a 6 week study

If you are interested in listening to the full details of my reflections about these five ways that authors can use free to build their author brand, you can check out Episode 14 of the podcast or listen to it below.

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