Why Free Book Giveaways No Longer Work

Going free is no longer a viable marketing ploy, full stop. Times have changed. Two years ago, it worked, it jumpstarted "word of mouth" and book sales took off on Amazon.

No more. Readers suffer from "free fatigue".

Too much is too much. The evidence free giveaways no longer work is piling in.

That's the gist of a recent discussion between authors on Linked In. I mentioned my own recent experience with a 5-day free giveaway on KDP Select for Part One of my new sci-fi serial novel FOREVER YOUNG.

How did it go? I blogged about it before: it got lots of free downloads but much less than when I went free 2 years ago with another book. More to the point: the resulting bump in sales was small and short-lived. Even Part Two of the same book barely budged. Hard to say why, considering I have a pretty strong presence on Internet, with this blog (for a writer it has an exceptionally high Alexa ranking), a good following on Twitter, on Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads etc etc 

Is there a problem with my book? I don't think so (shy grin). My book cover is (I believe) good. The writing is (I believe) excellent (another grin). It got good reviews as soon as it was published. Yesterday I even got one enthusiatic fan who wrote an email to me saying this: 

"Really got to know what happens next in the Forever Young series. Thoroughly enjoyed the first two. Left 5-star reviews for each on Goodreads. Both volumes moved at a breathtaking pace. Your characters were so vivid I felt like I could take their pulses. Your narrative flows so smooth it's like dipping each bite of pancake in warm maple syrup before popping it in your mouth. Terrific accomplishment, my friend. Can't wait for the third volume."

I love that: a narrative so smooth it's like dipping each bite of pancake in warm maple syrup, the best compliment I ever got!

Now when a book can elicit this kind of response from someone who's never met me, look, that book must have something going for it! Yet the free downloads got the book exactly nowhere.

The problem is not the book: it's reader fatigue. Too many books going free...So yes, I'm totally against free. Possibly 99 cents is the "new free"...

Speaking as an economist (which I happen to be - a Columbia U. graduate), "free" in economic parlance is a sign that something is worth...nothing! That's the logic of it and that's also the danger. I believe we authors should be very careful about how we play around with free books. They make us look...cheap!

To read the full discussion on Linked In, click here 

Please let me have your opinion!