Free Downloads Ending. Wait—What?

It’s true. Driven by my insatiable desire to keep a roof over my head, I’m cutting back on my free-download offerings. Starting this week, I’m shifting my website to samples and purchase links for the Chaos books, and the same with Eternity’s End. I’ve already got my own Starstream Publications editions of the first three Chaos books—with new afterwords—for sale in all of the major stores for a very low price (Eternity’s End coming soon). But even a very low price isn’t competing well with free.

I’ve been running the free-downloads experiment for more than two years now. Here’s my conclusion: The free downloads have significantly expanded my audience, and enabled me to meet some very nice people electronically. But they haven’t done much in terms of pay. Yes, some people have been generous with Paypal donations, and some who liked the books have gone out and bought my other ebooks—and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. But the theory that free downloads drive sales of books, which apparently works for some writers, does not seem to have clicked for me. I don’t regret offering the downloads—not a bit—but now it’s time to try something new.

I’m asking all other sites that host my free downloads to remove all except Neptune Crossing. (I’ll still let them offer that first hit for free, heh-heh.) I’ll provide big enough samples of all the books for new readers to give them a good, fair try—not like those weenie samples you get at a lot of stores, where most of the sample is ^%$@ front-matter, not the actual book.

And I’ll keep the prices low.

With the holidays coming, I’ll be offering some specials. But one thing at a time. I’m posting this right now as last call for alcoh—errr, free books!

(Note: Short stories and Battlestar Galactica will remain free in some ebook formats.)

0 Responses

  1. MrMMatricks
    | Reply

    Hi!

    Some thing i was wondering, how much control do you have about pricing with the stores like amazon, sony or B&N? I just realized how much cheaper the books are on books on board compared to amazon. Is amazon more restrictive than the others?

    Matthias

  2. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Depends on the book. For the books I put up myself, almost complete control. (Except Amazon will sometimes lower the price of a book unilaterally for reasons of their own.)

    For books from the publishers operating under the so-called Agency Model (that's 5 of the 6 major NY publishing conglomerates), the publisher now has total control, and the price is supposed to be the same everywhere.

    For books from other publishers (such as E-reads, which publishes a bunch of my ebooks), the publisher sets the suggested list price, and the store can discount it if they want. I prefer this method in principle, though I wish E-reads would put the price lower.

    As for price-shopping, I find that no one store will be consistently cheaper. When I'm looking for ebooks myself, I shop around. Fictionwise often has some great coupon discounts, but they don't have all books and it seems like the only way to find out about the coupons these days is to check Mobileread's "deals" section.

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