Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Sure Fire Way to Get More Readers

In this world where $ rules, there is one simple trick that will get you more readers. 

But before I tell you what it is, I need to make sure we are on the same page; otherwise none of this will apply.

Page 1: I'm assuming you have a great book and that you have had it professionally edited. I'm also assuming that your writing is fresh and interesting and your plot is to die for.

Page 2: I'm assuming you have a brilliant cover, because if a reader doesn't like the art, he or she ain't gonna buy your book. (And do not give me crap about sayin' ain't... this is just a freakin' blog. Get off your high horse)

Page 3: I'm assuming you have written an eye catching and interesting blurb on your book page. If the reader isn't hooked by your "hook" (or lack thereof), why would he or she spend money on something that is not interesting?

Okay, so we're on the same page. Your book is awesome. I get that. Mine is too. Good. Now what's the secret? Simple. One word. Free. Yes, free.

Free is the new word for sales. Don't believe me? Ask any one who signed up for the KDP Select program. Ask anyone who has given away 1,000 copies of their book. Ask anyone who has received a gift that they didn't deserve. Free is good. Free is nice. Free is better. Free is word of mouth. Free is your friend.

So what's the big deal? Why even bring it up?

I'm posting this because we are embarking upon a season when we give and receive gifts. It's a time when we can all relate to how good it feels when someone gives you something you don't deserve. In fact, getting almost feels as good as giving something away.

If you've ever thought, I'm not giving away my book that I spent months and even years working on. My time and talent is far too valuable to throw my labor away like that, I'm here to tell you that you are DEAD wrong. Everyone loves a cheerful giver. Everyone loves a gift. And everyone remembers the one who gave them something for free.

So the secret to more sales is...give your book away.

Workin' the world of freebies is something that's hard for authors to understand because they're ready to recoup their publishing expenses. But as I've said in the past, indie publishing is not for the one-trick pony. It is a life-long journey; one that you cannot help to traverse once you have strapped on your boots.

Bottom line: We all want to sell our books. But remember to give your ebooks away, at random, from your blog, in contests, as gifts, to help promote your other titles and just because you like doing it. If you don't love the smiles, you'll love the boomeranging sales.

HINT: Amazon has this really cool algorithm that has a funny way of putting your book on A LOT of book pages every time you make your book free. When that happens, more eyes see your book. When that happens, if you've done everything right (i.e., we're on the same page) you will sell more books. Wink. Wink. BOOM!

Incidentally, REUNION, my #1 best selling suspense thriller is FREE today and tomorrow in the Kindle Store. If you have a Nook and would like a copy, leave your email address. I'll get you a copy asap. 

~ Jeff Bennington is the author of Twisted Vengeance, Reunion and Creepy
5 - Stars
4.4 - Stars
5.0 - Stars

Like my book covers? I designed them and I can make one for U2. See my Author Services Page.


  1. I didn't see a way to make the book free at Amazon. Am I missing something?

  2. I was wondering how you made it Free as well, didn't look like Prime.

    My only thought against FREE books is that you may "sell" more books, not make any money, and it may help your ranking, but will they be read?

    I think getting your book read is the key, because the reader will share their experience with other readers, post reviews, etc. A free book sitting unread on a kindle only helps from the initial download.

    I think more readers are apt to read what they paid for and free books may tend to sit unread on the kindle TBR shelf.

    Interested to see how your free offer goes! Good luck!

  3. This is another interesting post. I'm torn between whether free really works or not - I've done some giveaways on Goodreads but it's too early to tell the outcome. And I'm curious as the others are about how you made the book free. The only thing I've seen work is if you get a book free elsewhere and then petition Amazon, they will price match - but it's hard to get Amazon to buckle under. How do you list for free for just a day or two?
    Many thanks! Renee

  4. I agree that free should get you more readers, but surely you must have limits on how many copies to give away.

    Two problems with free are...

    1. It cheapens the value of all books, hurting everyone.

    2. You need to make money as an author so you can give up your day job and have the time to write the next book.

  5. Thank you for writing this,

    I've been wondering about doing this for THIS season. As you mentioned, it is December. And everybody likes a gift :) I think I'll do this for a limited time because I need reviews on my new e-book that just got listed a couple weeks ago.

    Cheers & grand writing to you, @Uva_Be
    author of 'Code of the Fates'

  6. @Marie ~ Hi Marie. Yes, you are missing something. There are three ways to make your books free on Amazon. The first way is be a big-6 publisher. The second way to make your book free on Amazon is to make it free elsewhere and then request Amazon to price match. This can take 2-3 weeks or more, if Amazon decides to do it. Even then, you might be sitting on a free book for months. The third way is to join the Amazon select program. This program allows you to make your kindle book free, on demand from 1 to 5 days every 90 days.

    @Doug ~ The free, on demand posting is compliments of The KDP Prime program. When your book is free, Amazon removes the "Select" logo. Also, I disagree that just because a book is free, means it won't be read. No book sold on Amazon is guaranteed to be read. I do agree that readers might move higher priced books to the top of their tbr list. But what you need to understand is that making your book free, is about making money.


    When readers "buy" your free book, your title will show up as a "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought." book. I hope you understand how significant that is. When no one knows Jeff Bennington, and then suddenly one or more of Jeff Bennington's books is in the Amazon free top 100, Jeff Bennington not only gets noticed, but his book is sitting right next to James Patterson's books in the Amazon Top 100 Selling List.

    To sum this up, making a book for free on Amazon will not only give you greater exposure (resulting in future book sales), but it will also give your book(s) publicity on an international level.

    Here's the results of day 1 from my 2 day listing: In 24 hours (as of 1:44 am), Reunion hit #11 in the Amazon free store. I "sold" over 9,000 copies. Reunion is sitting next to Stephen King, James Patterson and Michael Connelly. Every book that my "buyers" have read will now include my book as a "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" title. The residual effect is where the sales come in, and I plan to raise my price to $2.99 after the IBC Indie Book Blowout is over. My other books have spiked in sales as well.

    I hope that makes sense.

    @Renee ~ See my reply to Doug's questions. And, I think Goodreads is a decent way to promote, but if readers buy from Amazon it's hard to measure. Doing giveaways at GR is more like PR. When readers "add" your book, it's likely they will read it later.

    @Glen ~ I do have a limit. 2 days. Then the book will go back to regular pricing. Book pricing in the digital world is just as subjective as literature itself. Some authors make books free to encourage reading a series, or to get reviews, or to get noticed. An unknown author like myself would be foolish to try to sell his or her ebook for more than $5. To me, that would be pure arrogance and a poor business decision. In my opinion, ebook pricing IS related to the authors value, but not the quality of his writing. The value of an author's ebooks are proportional to the size of his or her audience.

    Don't be afraid to give your book(s) away, for a limited time and to generate buzz. This is a common business practice in publishing and in most other businesses.

    Making my book free for a limited time is not devaluing it. In fact it has the opposite effect. Giving my book away for a limited time is the same as a big 6 publishing company giving out FREE books to reviewers on a international level. The point is not to devalue, but rather, to create awareness and generate interest. It's a business decision. A promotional tool.

    @Uva ~ Hi Uva. Thank you. Good luck with getting reviews. I hope you've submitted to The Kindle Book review.

  7. I am not an author, just an avid reader who checks the free ebooks from amazon daily. Until today I never heard of Jeff Bennington but his free book, Reunion sounded interesting. So much so that I clicked on his name to see what else he wrote (which is how I came across this blog!). I found four titles that interested me. And I just bought all four of these titles at .99 each. Without the free book I never would have found this author and I now I can't wait to read my new books!

  8. @Donna ~ Thank you. I'm so glad you came by and commented. You rock. That's all I'm sayin'

  9. Jeff, I agree with everything you said. I've considered it and am still trying to decide if I want to go "all in" with Amazon or not.

    I just don't want people to think that Free is the silver bullet.

    Best of luck and I look forward to watching the results of this. Keep us posted!

  10. @Doug ~ As always, there is a greater success rate on average with more titles, but so far I am AMAZED at what select is doing for me and other authors. Can't wait until the next 90 days and the next book release. Bottom line, it's all about shelf space. And that is exactly what the Indie book guru's have been telling us. But it is even more than the # of books you publish. The key is getting your book on more book pages on similar titles/genres, because Amazon's algorithms basically find your audience for you. No one else is doing that for you; not B&N, not Apple, not Smashwords, not one. For me, it's a no brainer. 97%. That's the sales ratio. 97%. Why waste my time on 1.8% of Nook when they do nothing to help my sales. I'll give away 1.8% to any B&N reader who wants my book if I can profit from 97%.

    Looking forward to hearing about your success when YOU JOIN ADP Select. It's going to happen. I know it. You won't be able to resist success. It's contagious!

  11. I can feel the pull, especially since 98% of my sales are on kindle! I may see how holiday goes and results of the few/many early adopters and get in after the holiday. Will it be too late? Planning to publish book two spring/summer and may use it then.

    And the 90 day option gives you an out if you want to expand back to the other markets.

    I'm almost there...

  12. I prefer to give lots of free copies away through giveaways, that way I know the people who win the books really wanted them since they put the effort into entering the giveaway.

  13. I see that you're talking e-books here. What about print books where an author has to shell out money for each "free" book he gives away?

  14. @Doug-Looking forward to you joining the team.

    @VelvetRose-Looks like you've got the right idea.

    @Suzanne-I do make print copies for family, friends, local fans and the few who actually buy print later on. I also create print copies for reviewers who require print (although those are becoming less and less) and for Goodreads giveaways. Does it cost $? Yes. But this is a cost of doing business and is a tax write off.

    You have brought up a valid point that extends beyond print copies and that is the fact that indie publishing is a business. As a business owner you have a responsibilty to operate with the same professionalism as a solid company. When indies operate as if they are writing for a hobby, you end up with poor quality and an unprofessional stain on the industry. I'd compare this to the full time home-maintenance professional vs. The part-time handyman who does shotty work. Plan to spend money. It costs to be a pro. Going cheap, will come back in low sales. Always spend on editing, cover and marketing. The rest is skill and talent.

  15. Excellent post, and I must agree I've noticed a lot of successful indies doing this lately and it has got me into authors I'd not have read before.

    Have yourself and great Christmas and New Year X

  16. I know it's a bit late for a comment, but I just found this post through twitter and the discussion hit on something that has been bugging me for some time now. Regarding the "customers who bought this item also bought..." section--simply put, I have clicked through and looked at every "also bought" book on my book's page on multiple occasions and my book does not appear on a single one of THEIR pages, even though their book appears on mine. The lack of reciprocation is as puzzling as it is disappointing. Any ideas why this could be--or, better yet, how I can "fix" it? Thanks for the informative post. I enjoy your insights and appreciate the time you spend in posting them!

  17. Thanks for you insight and candor, Jeff. Always great to hear from someone who's been doing the indie thing for awhile and found success. I must say I've had quite the atypical experience in that, although I'm selling ebooks, curiously I get just as many requests for print books. It's made me change my marketing tactic a bit, although I still push the ebook just as heavily for all the reasons you've mentioned. So until print books go away (which I hope they never do) I've made the decision to always have print books readily available. And I agree that it's okay to give (a few) books away, which I do--for reviews, for PR, and sometimes just because!

    Best of luck to everyone -- may you all find indie success!

  18. Dear Jeff- I have read several articles on the KDP select program and in fine print there is a problem about your exclusive rights to your own book. Its something not to be given away lightly! Maybe we should all look into the fine print and see what it actually says. PK Harrington


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