Permafree Books - How and Why Books are PermafreeWhat does permafree mean? Why do authors put their books permafree? Why give away content for free?
In the old, ancient days of 1980, books cost money. That's all there was to it. A few major publishing houses controlled most of the inventory, you went to a book store, and you chose from what was offered. Your money went to the paper costs, the printing costs, the publishing house's staff ... and a tiny portion went to the author.
Fast forward to modern times. Things have changed drastically. Now there are millions and millions of books vying for attention on the web. A mystery author isn't just up against the twenty or thirty new mystery books out on the bookstore shelves this month. They're vying against thousands of books flooding in daily. How can a book get found? How can it draw in fans?
Permafree is a time-tested solution.
Here's what permafree is. You have a series and the first book of that series is ALWAYS FREE. PERMA-free. It simply is free. Its purpose is to funnel in as many readers to learn about you and your series.
But surely, you say, I can do that with advertising?
Here's the challenge.
When your first book costs something - even 99 cents! - that is a hurdle to trying it. Readers are flooded with thousands of free books every day. They have plenty to read. They have little incentive to try yours to see if "maybe" it might be nice to read, when their Kindle or iPad or whatever is already stuffed with thousands of other options. Yes, if you market it heavily, a portion of readers will plunk down the money to try it. But it's a simple fact of life that not all of them will like it. Some will think it's too gory, or too tame, or too sexy, or too boring, or whatever. We all have different tastes and that's ok! But the point is that you're naturally going to lose a portion of those readers due to lack of interest. So by only having a small number of people enter that chute, you're tourniqueting your potential fan base. There are tens of thousands of other fans who WOULD have loved you but they never gave you a try. They're off reading all those other books on their Kindle.
This is why you want to permafree your first book. You want to open up that funnel as huge as possible.
When you open the floodgates, you get swarms and swarms of people reading that first book. Sure, some won't like it - and that's fine! Because now you have TONS of other readers who will like it. It's simply the law of percentages. As long as you wrote the book well, had a decent editor make sure it was typo-free and issue-free, and have a professional cover so people click on it, you'll get a portion of the readers who enjoy your style. Those readers are now hooked. They like you! They trust you. They'll go on to read the rest. And they'll do that in a volume that easily makes up for the fact that they got book #1 for free. And those fans will tell other readers, and so on.
I have tested non-perma-free and permafree series and absolutely the permafree series bring in more readers and more income.
Here's my sci-fi romance novella series with the first book free, the second at 99 cents, and books three and four at $2.99.
In this Scottish regency time travel romance novella series book one is free, book two is 99 cents, and book three is $2.99. I'm contemplating a book four.
This dystopian series has the first one free, the second at 99 cents, and the third at $2.99.
And, naturally, my Black Cat mini mystery series :). The first is free and the rest are all 99 cents each.
You can certainly do this with non-fiction as well. For my journaling books the journaling basics book is free. Then I have a series of prompts books which are all available for 99 cents. The back of the journaling basics book encourages readers to buy the rest.
Most systems like Kobo, SmashWords, Lulu, and so on will let you set a book's price to zero. Nook will NOT let you directly set it to zero, but if you load your book via Lulu (or other systems) you can set it to zero in that other admin interface. Kindle won't let you set the book directly to zero either - there you have to "price match." That is, you load the book on Amazon at a regular price (say, 99 cents). Then you load the book elsewhere for the zero price. Once that's done, you use the "found this book at a lower price" button on the book's listing on Amazon to tell them about the free prices elsewhere. They'll end up price matching your Amazon price to zero.
So the key is to create a first, free book to draw in those readers. Even if it's a short, summary "top 10 tips for ..." type of book if you have a non-fiction book you're promoting. That then creates a massive funnel to draw in potential readers for your series. Sure, a portion won't buy through, and that's normal! Readers have all sorts of different interests and some simply won't match what you wrote. But a portion of people WILL love your writing style and they'll be hooked!
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