How a Giveaway Ebook Benefits Your Business

How a Giveaway Ebook Benefits Your Business

The unsung heroes of the writing world – first-time authors, business book authors, authors who’ve endured years of struggle, and comeback kids – are all resistant to the idea of giving their work away.

After all, who buys the cow when the milk is free?

Although it seems counter-intuitive, free books actually can boost long-term business potential. In today’s digital age, the best outlet is the eBook, which offers advantages other publishing opportunities can’t.

What “Free” Means for eBooks

Most people want to read bestsellers so they can tell their friends they read the same book everyone else is talking about. But short of appearing on Oprah’s Book Club (you’re a little late for that!), gaining readership can be difficult.

Free eBooks provide some notable benefits:

  • Exposure: While we hear of the unknown author who struck gold with a million Kindle books sold, these stories are few and far between. It’s nearly impossible to convince readers to spend hard-earned cash on an unproven author, even at 99 cents. Think back to the last album you paid for by a band you’d never heard. Draw a blank? Free eBooks get your name out while limiting readers’ risk. It’s a win-win.
  • Feedback: Last year, a discouraged writer published a book with my company. She’d received so many rejections that she considered her free eBook a last-ditch effort. She posted her work and forgot about it; months later, she found the public loved her book and were leaving helpful reviews. She tweaked her book with this feedback, eventually picking up sponsors to back her writing efforts.  This kind of feedback is also helpful for writers lacking in confidence. As people provide comments, writers can refine their material until they have something they believe in enough to pitch to other outlets or offer to clients at a price.
  • Sharing: Most authors aren’t professionals; they own a business, have regular clients and workloads and write as a hobby or as a sideline. These writers aren’t looking for million-dollar deals – they just want people to like what they wrote. Free ebooks can land in the hands of thousands, and that’s inspiring.
  • Authority/Expertise: People are now introduced as “Joe Blow, author of 5-Second Abs You Wish You Could Have.” The public is always impressed when they know someone is an author – they assume that Joe Blow must know everything about fitness. Think most people couldn’t use credibility like that in the business world?
  • Leads: Ebooks can be interactive, and subtle advertising is business gold. Add links to your company website, ask for reviews, and embed social media buttons in your footers or back pages. People who liked your free work are more likely to consider your paying work, so lead them there.

But I Don’t Want to Give It Away for Free!

Some argue that eBook giveaways are wrong. You’re right. If your primary goal is to make money with your book, and you have the right resources to allow you to turn a profit, by all means, give paid publishing a go.

If you’re like most of us and lack millionaire friends who want to help you promote your book to the general public, it’ll be hard. Unknown writers must have backing, get lucky, or work their butts off marketing themselves (which most don’t want to do).

On principle, many say they worked hard to write their book, and they’ll be damned if they’re going to give it away for free. I certainly sympathize with this. But would you rather your work read by few or by many?

If you want just a few readers for the dollars they bring you, then in most cases, you have to put a lot of elbow grease in marketing the book – and yourself.

The Bottom Line

Authors should strive to maintain the same tone and quality in free eBooks as they would if they were charging for them. A writer is trying to “sell” something to readers, whether that’s a follow-up book, a service, or expertise.

Free eBooks only lead to success if a writer makes a great first impression – it’s a lot like a job interview.

So let go of your ego and give the public a taste of what you have to offer. Free samples work for everything from detergent to cheese, and they just might convince people to buy the cow.

Editor’s note: If you’re ready to write your ebook – but you just don’t know HOW – then you’re in luck. Damn Fine Ebooks, the game-changing ebook-writing course that teaches you how to plan, write and finish your ebook in just 12 weeks, is open now to new students. See you there!

Post by Nicolas Gremion

Nicolas Gremion is the CEO of Paradise Publishers, Inc., and founder of Foboko.com, a social publishing network where members get support writing their books from peers and connect directly with readers.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. This is an encouraging article. I’d add as a response to those who say ‘I’ve worked hard for my book and I’ll be damned if I’m giving it away for free’ – you don’t make money by working hard at a book. You make money by working hard at selling it. Using free samples is only giving your work away if you don’t use it in some kind of overall plan for success in the future – if you use a first free novel to drive sales of your second, then what you earn from the second will be the profit of both. It’s important to remember there’s a difference between just giving something away and actively using it as a promotional tool.

    • Well said Phil. I love this “you don’t make money by working hard at a book. You make money by working hard at selling it.” Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation!

    • Think of it like the samples at Costco. If free samples didn’t work to sell the product…

      I’m one of those tech junkies that delayed moving from print media. Won’t you miss the feel of a book?!

      I read so many books, almost all just once, that I hate buying books. They take up space and collect dust. I have boxes of books that I can’t sell for a quarter each – all practically new. Less than a year ago I got my first reader and it’s the best thing since sliced bread. (Better if your avoiding carbs like I do).

      Once I caught up on all of the books by my favorite authors I went on a search for new authors (I’ve downloaded over 200 books this year). I MIGHT pay .99 for an author I have not read. I’m a bit picky about what I like and am looking for. However, once I find an author I like – I read EVERYTHING I can find that they have written. I’ll pay for them too.

      Those free books are my gateway. ;) Please keep them coming so I can find more authors I enjoy reading!!

  2. Great points Nicholas.

    Many of the authors in my writing group are marketing their blogs with free ebooks. They say it helps build their lists, spreads their name, their work, and several have been “found” by editors and publishers.

    There is NOTHING more frustrating for an author than having noone read your work or their blogs.

    Ebooks are a great solution and I think more effective than the popular notion of guest posts. Ebooks put the control in your hands–not someone else’s.

    Ebooks highlight your best ideas and condense your message into one package, in one place. Busy readers don’t have to hunt through three years of past blog posts to find “the good stuff.”

    James’ Damn Fine Ebooks sounds like a dream course.

    James is a talented teacher who gives just the right amount of encouragement and challenge. I’m sure business owners and writers will love all her personal attention.

    Just think, to have a finished ebook by the end of the course!

    Damn Fine Ebooks could be the action step that will finally get “write an ebook” off your list of New Year resolutions. Best wishes to everyone.

  3. Mary and Mark; your comments are music to my ears. I never try to convince authors that free is the way to go. But rather that it can provide a number of benefits which deserve consideration. There’s really no one-size-fits all solution out there so each author needs to evaluate its goals and options to see what makes sense in their situation.

  4. That’s a nice article, Nicolas. It reminded me of a story how one Russian writer, Vadim Zeland, became a best-selling author. After being rejected by every publisher he approached, he began putting his work out for free on various ezines and direct mailing sites, chapter by chapter.

    After a few months, readers started forwarding his chapters to each other. They discussed them in chat rooms, posted links on FaceBook. And bingo – a publisher came knocking on his door.

    We can write “for the hard drive”, or we can push our work out into the open for free. I know the approach I’d choose.

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  1. […] The unsung heroes of the writing world – first-time authors, business book authors, authors who've endured years of struggle, and comeback kids – are all resistant to the idea of giving their work away.  […]

  2. […] How a Giveaway Ebook Benefits Your Business by Nicolas Geromion at Men with Pens […]

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