Friday, June 10, 2011

No More Freebies from Sam! #:0)

I made a decision last night that I'm feeling pretty good about. There's long been a discussion going on about whether providing free reads helps an author's sales/reputation or hurts it. I've been kind of teetering in the center of that discussion for a while. Last night, as I looked at my Goodreads ratings and realized that the ratings for my free reads were tanking my overall ratings for two series that have done pretty well with readers, I fell over, finally, onto the 'hurting the author' side.

When I decided to provide some short, free reads it was for two reasons, first, I won't lie, it was to try to entice new readers into my web! #:0) There's certainly nothing wrong with that. In a tough environment with lots of talented competition, an author has to find ways to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. It's all good. The second reason was to give my existing fan base some fun little extras to read in between my new releases.

What I realized last night, is that I can still give my fans fun, little freebies. In fact, those freebies will mean much more to them if they are exclusive to my fans. So I've decided to pull all my free stories from the market. Starting today, I will write and offer my Astra Q Phelps, Cupid, and Honeybun freebies only to my fan base, most likely in my newsletters and occasionally on my blog.

I've been noticing for a while that readers judge free reads much more harshly than they judge stuff they have to pay for. This seems counter intuitive, but it does seem to be the case. When something you are trying to provide as a gift or a service starts to reflect badly on you as an author, it no longer makes sense to provide that gift or service.

So, no more freebies from Sam. #:0) Of course there will still be contests and giveaways, but no more stories written and published as free reads. I just don't see the business sense in doing it anymore.

Has anyone else been struggling with this decision? Does this post reflect your experience too, or have you had the opposite experience? Or, as a reader, do you have some insight into this subject you'd like to offer? I'd love to hear from you if you do.


Becky said...

As a reader, I like getting the free stories so I can decide if I want to buy any books from that author. I have never been dissatisfied with any of the free stories that I have read. I find a lot of new authors by reading their free stories. I can see your point though where free stories can hurt an author too. Sorry to see you stop offering your free reads, but I will look forward to catching them on your blog and through your newsletter. I love your stories.

Sam Cheever said...

Hi Becky!

I'm glad you understand my plight. I always thought they were a great way for people to try new authors too, but I think it's hard for some readers to look beyond the necessary limitations in a very short, free story. So they kind of defeat their purpose. Or maybe I just suck at writing short! Har!

Anyway, those of you who want to read my stories will still be able to get them. That's the important thing!

zohra said...

I agree with Sam,
As an advertising/ marketing professional I can tell you people never appreciate the freebie handout to its fullest extent. Consumers may buy a product because of a freebie, but do they develop loyalty to a brand like that? Rarely.

So Sam, I think what you're doing is the right way to go. Reward your loyal fans with fun little freebies, but a whole book... maybe not.

Sam Cheever said...

Thanks for the verification, Zohra! I learned that with my kids! #:0) They never really appreciated anything we gave them, or that they got too easily. It's human nature, I think.