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Why Give Content Away for Free?
by award winning author, B.A. Bellec
I have been writing lots for Reader Views lately because I am in the middle of marketing my second novel (Pulse) and I am a sponsor of their Annual Award contest, which is coming soon. I want to keep the marketing going for a few months and these articles are a good tool for me to put the marketing strategy I used in the past into perspective so I can understand what did and didn’t work.
I am always talking about tools. If you were a plumber, you would have all your tools in a nice carrying case and you would bring it with you every day to work. Authors have tools as well and most of them are based around marketing because it is one of the most important tasks for us. Pixabay is one of the tools I use and is where I got that image. Our author tools are not as visible as a wrench or pipe cutter, but because our best tools are digital this means the potential for use is almost limitless.
Speaking of “Limitless”, want to see another digital tool in action?
That song was written and produced by me and is part of my novel. Some of the lyrics appear on my pages. The song is one of my many marketing tools. This article is free. That song is free. My book is free. I want to talk about giving away your work for free. If you are an indie going the self-publishing route, you may want to also think about going one step further and giving away your entire book for free.
FREE TRIAL CONCEPT
Many businesses use the “free trial” concept and it is one of the best ways to quickly grow a company if you are starting from scratch. As an author, you are essentially building a brand around your pen name, and thinking like a start-up company is a great strategy to launch your platform.
The author’s version of the “free trial” would be to give away your entire first and/or second book to anyone who finds you. It’s not an easy decision as you may have put upward of a thousand dollars into the cover and the editing, but if you are on your first or second novel, you probably lack reviews and social media exposure.
Me personally, I don’t want cost to be a barrier that blocks potential fans from discovering my work. If one of my books looks interesting, the reader can grab it. I hope that once a person reads one of my books, I will have converted them to a fan through the storytelling skills on display. When I release that third or fourth book, I should have hundreds of dedicated fans at the ready that may have never found me if I had my novels behind a paywall. Everything I do is about growing my fanbase these first few years. The royalty can come later. Fans are my number one priority. I write to entertain. If people are entertained, they will pay me for something eventually.
So, if your books are free, what is the strategy to market yourself?
I recently wrote an article on BookFunnel. That is the site I use to host my free content. Reader Magnets and Cross-Promotion or What is BookFunnel?
BookFunnel produces Reader Magnet links, which I have on my website. Here is BookFunnel on display as a few simple buttons on my website:
And here they are as raw links:
I have those links sitting in the sticky notes application on my laptop/phone and I would say I copy and paste them to an email or DM almost daily. Those links are the heartbeat of my marketing.
Here is another example of a free link in action:
I have the Pulse link in the body of the post and as part of my Instagram “Links” section on my profile. Recently Instagram updated the platform and added the ability for anyone to share links in their stories. I have used the BookFunnel for Pulse a few times in my stories as well.
To put this idea in perspective. Imagine you have your Amazon book link. You could replace every link above with an Amazon link. How many people would stop once they see the paywall?
The other frustrating thing about using a service like Amazon is you get very little data on clicks. If I share an Amazon link it is harder to see the stats on the clicks and conversions. BookFunnel and my website make it easy for me to see click volumes and some details around where the click came from. I can better monitor marketing campaigns and focus on the things that are working to repeat them. I have found the conversion rate on my free link to be close to 30%. That is amazing and then I focus on shares and try to get that link in front of hundreds of people by using email, newsletters, sharing groups, social media, DMs, and every tool I can think of. Staying true to the name, I am “funneling” readers to those BookFunnel links on every platform I have available, and approximately two years into my author journey I am seeing lots of growth on my website traffic, review counts, and social media.
The cool thing for you as an author is the “free trial” concept can be something you do daily that costs you little to nothing.
Have you ever heard the term sunk-cost fallacy? Some people are reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they spent lots of money/time to get it to the level it is at. Often the abandonment of the old strategy would be more beneficial long term, but the person is blind to this other path because of their own bias toward what they put in.
I think many authors are guilty of this fallacy because they spent years creating their first book and they feel it has value because of the time they invested. The problem with that thinking is until you have proven yourself as an author through publishing a few books and generating reviews, your book does not have much value.
There is more than one way to prove value, and there are always exceptions, but if you are looking to grow your readership and want to make a big splash, the “free trial” method is a great way to counter the sunk-cost fallacy. Use me as the case study and consider doing something like this yourself to get your book in front of hundreds of potential readers almost instantly.
About the Author
Bryan “B.A.” Bellec’s debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award for Young Adult Book of the Year. Someone’s Story is a coming-of-age novel about teen mental health. One of the aspects that makes Bellec’s projects unique is he includes musicians in his novels and then he actually produces the songs as his book goes through the editing stages. You can find that music on his YouTube channel. His second novel, Pulse, just released and has been receiving strong reviews. That novel is a genre flip with dark dystopian sci-fi horror peppering the pages.
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