Loss Leader

A few years ago a person at a gathering I attended laughed at me for having a free promotion of one of my books. “Can’t get anyone to buy it, huh?”

Actually, I’ve heard many people over the years poke fun at free or inexpensive ebooks, but many businesses use the concept of loss leaders to stimulate sales. It’s a fairly common business practice.

For the book world, specifically on Amazon, when you make a book free for a couple of days, you will hopefully give away hundreds of books more than you would normally sell in one day. What does this do? Many things.

  1. New people who haven’t read any of your other books will now discover you as an author.
  2. The new people who come to your Amazon page to purchase your book will see that you have written other books. They may end up buying some of them.
  3. The people who get the free book may leave reviews on Amazon. More reviews help sell books.
  4. The people who get the free book may tell their friends about the book which may lead to new customers for other books, or for future books you publish.
  5. If many people get the free book, your ranking on Amazon will rise for those days it is free. The better your ranking, the more your book is noticed.
  6. If you have a lot of people take advantage of the free book, you may rise to #1 in a category of books. This is ideal because then people can find your book more easily on the Best Seller’s list in that category. Even after the free promotion, you may stay higher in the rankings for a few days.

Ultimately, making a book free for a couple days can make a difference in the future sales of your book.

The thing to remember about books is that Amazon sells millions and millions of books. Your book is competing with not only every major publishing house, but every famous author, plus every book that has been published in the past: Tolstoy to King, Simon & Schuster, to Harper Collins. Even if you have a traditional publisher, your book will struggle to be noticed as publishers tend to push the books that sell well… who can blame them, they make more money that way.

Most of us who write, write because we love doing it and we have stories to tell. We’re often just as interested in having a lot of people read our work as we are in making money. Yet, bills must be paid and our time is valuable. Loss leaders can help in both ways; we get more people to read our work, plus we may end up making more sales of our other books, plus we may get good promotion in reviews and word of mouth for the book we are giving away. Of course, all promotions are built on hope. Sometimes promotions don’t increase sales to the degree we’d like them to, yet sometimes they do.

All businesses have sales. I am an independent author. I’m just like the mom & pop restaurant, or the book store owned by a lady in town, or the artist who sells her paintings, or the man who offers custom harvesting. We all have the same thing in common: we like what we do, we have the ability to do it, and we have the courage to make a go of it on our own because we believe in our work and our abilities. Don’t discourage any small independent business. Encourage them. There are plenty of Targets, Abblebee’s, and Barnes and Nobles. Support the little businesses who are doing that American thing where we are brave and taking advantage of capitalism and working hard to be individuals. Franchises and monster stores don’t need more of your money, and their product isn’t always better, either.