Can anyone explain how giving away free ebooks translates into increased sales? Thanks.

J.M. Garlock

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The idea is that most book sales come from personal recommendations. So, the more readers you can get, the more new readers you might add. With ebooks a free offer for a limited period is a very inexpensive way of marketing.

So, why not download my new novel, Leaving Gilead and use discount code QD69V for a 100percent discount.

Rob Crompton

Have you ever walked down the aisle of a supermarket and tasted a free sample of food?  In some ways free e-books are the same idea.  Keep in mind that we are not talking about "always free" or "forever free".  We are talking about free samples.

There are three main way the free books translates into increased sales: 

1) On Amazon by giving away a great number of book you will go up in the search rankings so when the free download is done your book will have a better position for when you start selling. 

2) The people who get your book for free should talk about your book and tell their friends.  Think about how many more people you will reach if you have hundred's of people talking about your book.

3) If you have more than one book for sale the odds are good that if they like your first free book that they will buy your other books.

I hope that helps

Good advice. Thanks.--J.M. Garlock

The word 'free' does catch my attention when scrolling through Smashwords because I'm a blogger/reviewer so always on the look out for new reads and up coming authors. However I generally find myself just downloading the book while it is on offer so I can get the discount as I think it may be of slight interest if I have time to read it.

The chances of me reading the book can be very slim though. The book goes to the bottom of my tbr pile as I downloaded it on impulse rather than genuinely being interested in it and other books take priority. Through my own experiences I have found that people are more likely to read a book if they have paid for it (and therefore are more likely to talk about it/review etc) rather than downloading it for free as it means the description, cover or something else has caught their interest rather than the price.

I have tried this marketing technique myself with my own work and although downloads increase dramatically when on offer they tend to slow down after the promotion. As well as this compared to the amount of sales the amount of reviews I get back is very slim. For me, although 'free' catches my eye I would rather someone bought my book because they were genuinely interested in it rather than because was giving it away.


What Amazon tells you is just a theory. You offer free book, book gets downloaded, then word of mouth makes the rest buy your book. However, the reality looks completely different. This theory doesn't take the market's basic rule of supply and demand into consideration. So what is the answer on your question?

Offering book for free doesn't translate into increased sales unless you advertise your free book. It sounds strange but unless you fork out money to advertise your free book you won't see many downloads and you won't get any sales after the free period ends. To get some, I repeat some sales you must advertise your free days. This is especially true if you write a book that doesn't cater to the mainstream. 

I can't exactly tell you the number (it's out there, you can find it) but there are nearly three thousand free books every day offered on Amazon. If we take this number as average (just for the sake of our argument) that's about 90 000 a month. Out of 3000 daily offered free books only 5-10% get read. The rest, as Sienna pointed out, go to the bottom of the reading lists for overwhelming majority of readers. That means they might read the book sometime in future, they might not. 

This gets even tougher if you're completely unknown author. People tend to go for known products (known authors in the book business.) My assumption is that the new authors will be forced to take a financial loss as a part of the gamble for the future. This means, you'll need to invest a lot (take the word lot in loosest possible sense) of money to get your name out there and if the public likes your work you'll be set. If they don't, you take the loss.  

The reality is, if you don't advertise your book you're just one of the tickets in the lottery. You might hit the jackpot but most probably you won't.

Excellent advice. Thanks.--J.M. Garlock

I have to say I got one Jessica Sorenson book for free, was hooked and then I bought the other 10 or so books she has written

I always wonder about this myself. In seems to me that the fact that prospective buyers can download a sample ought to make the practice of giving away the whole book unnecessary, but I don't know if it actually works that way in practice.

Offering free books can also improve your books ranking in the categories on Amazon, once persons pick up your free offer. Higher rankings will give you greater visibility and in turn increase your sales. It is important to invest time in ensuring that your book is placed in the most appropriate categories.

A good way to promote your free offering is through your social networks, which are free. If your free offer is on for a few days, for example, you might want to tweet about it at least two different times during the day. Encourage your readers to leave a review or even a like on Amazon.

Hi, J.M.


By having free promotions, you get a lot of people to download your book, which in turn, makes it more visible.  When people are browsing, your book might appear as a suggestion and result in a sale.  Also, if you have more than one book and someone downloads your first book and likes it, they might be willing to pay for the other book.  It's exposure in a very over-saturated market. 

Irina Shapiro


Sure, it creates a buzz and a demand.  I remember when I was working at a college radio station and received a free, promotional album - it was Truth by Jeff Beck and his band with Rod Stewart on vocals.  After listening to it, I went out and bought the Rod Stewart solo album and afterward everything released by the Small Faces/Faces.  That's the way it works.

Best,  Joseph

I've never done it before, however we're going to give it a try with my next book which is the first in a series.

I've got a new publisher and it was suggested since going into new genre as this is fiction and prior work has been non-fiction.

We've launched a sign up for random drawing and will be giving 50 Free eBooks out.

We'll see how it goes and let you know!



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