Free Books versus Cappuccino (and #giveaway)

There are a couple of “book marketing gurus” who are all the rage these days, urging authors to offer free books to those who sign up for their newsletters or who want to simply download them from Amazon or another website. The idea is that the reader will love the freebie so much that he or she will rush out and buy the rest of the series or other books by the author, boosting overall sales.

Do you think that’s true? Do you download a lot of free books? Let me rephrase that: do you download free books that you actually READ, and then go looking for more of the author’s work? Read on to weigh in and get a chance to get, yeah, a free book!

I remember when a friend gave me my first Kindle for Christmas way back when it was still a novelty, and I’d insisted that I only wanted to read print books. Now, I’m older and have worse vision and think digital books are pretty nifty and convenient. Whip out my phone, open my Kindle app, and I have the world of books at my fingertips.

Still. When I first got that Kindle, I was agog at the free and almost-free books out there. I downloaded anything that looked interesting. How many of those have I actually read? Maybe 1 percent…maybe. Some are buried deep in the heart of my Kindle library; others I’ve removed altogether. There are always books–books I paid for–that I wanted to read more. So, obviously, that marketing tactic doesn’t work on me as a reader.

There’s also the idea that I have spent months working on a novel and all that entails, from plotting to writing to revision to editing to proofreading, and having four or six months of my hard work valued at…nothing. Or 99 cents. “Less than a cappuccino,” as authors have been fond of saying for a few years as the freebie train has kept chugging along.

So, as I ponder marketing for new releases over which I have pricing control (if the author doesn’t have control over pricing, this is all a moot point), I ask you, my reading friends:

Do you download freebie or 99-cent books?

Do you only download them by authors you like or have been wanting to try, or do you download anything vaguely interesting as long as it’s free?

How many of those downloaded freebies do you actually read? Have any of them prompted you to buy other books by the author?

Leave a comment to be entered for a FREE digital version of any of my books–by Suzanne Johnson or Susannah Sandlin.