Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Gifting vs. Giveaways

I've spent most of my life as a writer learning how to take readers by surprise. But I've done something totally different with the launch of APRIL YULE: I've finally taken myself by surprise.

Did I hear someone ask: How'd you do that? Thank you, friend, for asking.

To celebrate my first anny as an ebook author, I did the exact opposite of what I'd done for the previous four ebooks. For each of those I'd staged repeated Free Events, sometimes for just one book and sometimes for two or three. I'd succeeded in giving away about 50 copies for #1, The Vanishing Magic of Snow. Numbers improved a bit with each event until, last December, thousands of downloads resulted. A groundswell of interest had started to build.

Then again, I hadn't made a penny from the books. I'd experimented, for a couple of months, with lowering the price point: from 2.99 to .99. Impact: none at all. Undaunted, I rewrote my Amazon product descriptions, paying far more attention to keywords. Too soon to say yet if that tactic will work. While I waited to see, it made sense to ponder if consistent giveaways might have been costing me sales.

If readers had grown accustomed to getting free giveaways of all my work, why would they bother to pay?

April Yule had special importance for me--and I chose to not give it away. What if I paid for the privilege of getting this book into the hands of writers whose work I had come to admire? What if I did this without any strings--no requests that they review the book, no sense that they owed me a favor? I wanted the gifting to have a sense of purity about it. And I could accomplish this more easily if I paid to send it as an ebook, not Word doc.

I have a clean feeling about this. Rather than giving away the store, I staged a sort of open house for as many groovy writers as I can afford to feed.

Drinks on me. Enjoy the book. I'm glad I got to know you.

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