The debate rages all over the internet. Should indie writers give away their work in order to gain more readers?
I tried it last week. I did a 5-day promotion, setting my literary short story This Thing with Henry to give away for free as a Kindle download. (It’s now back to 99-cents, but still free to borrow for Prime members.) I thought about doing an all-out marketing push, but I only have one other story published digitally under my name. (I have others under a pen name). Before I start marketing, I’d like to have something for readers to look for once they’ve finished the free story.
Some indie publishers argue that you should never give anything away for free. They think it’s bad business. But for those of us who don’t yet have a following, it may be a good way to to begin to build a readership.
My story reached the top 20’s for free kindle books in two sub-categories. That’s not so impressive, but there are now over 400 people who have the story on their kindle. Those 400 people had never heard of me before the promotion. If Henry is to their liking, perhaps some of them will click on the link to purchase The Morning Man. Perhaps they’ll look for more of my work in the future.
I can’t pretend to have the marketing side of indie publishing figured out. I know how to write and craft a solid story. I’m fortunate enough to have access to a great cover designer. Formatting for digital publishing is fairly easy now that I’ve done it a few times. Given the choice, I’d focus exclusively on writing, and let marketing take care of itself. But I’m afraid that would mean writing for an audience of one.
I’ve published several stories under my pen name (more on that later), so for my next experiment in late April, I’ll set one of those to the $0.00 and spread the word a little more. Here’s hoping it finds the right readers and they come back for more.
Go write something!