After you’ve written your book and poured your time, heart, and soul into it, it is natural to balk at the idea of giving your book away for free. There are many instances, however, in which you should give your book away.
Reviewers and Media Contacts
The first and most obvious instance in which you should give your book away for free is when you are trying to get reviewers to review your book and secure publicity through media contacts. Just remember, the more books that you are asked to give away, the more reviews, interviews, and requests for published excerpts that will come your way.
Building Your Email Marketing Database
When you are trying to build your email marketing database, getting people to supply their email address can be tough. A good way to get them to give you their address is to give them a sample chapter for doing so or, if you have a series, you might even give them the first book for signing up (assuming that they will purchase the remaining books in your collection). This will help you build a relationship with your readers and build a following for marketing purposes—an email marketing list is worth its weight in gold.
Some authors have had great success in giving away ebooks for free and finding this increases the sales of their print book. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough you should give it some thought. Here is a recent study on the effect of giving away free ebooks: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0013.101%3Frgn%3Dmain%3Bview%3Dfulltext
Amazon’s KDP program allows you to give your book away for five days and have your book in the Amazon library to loan out. While it may seem counterintuitive to give your book to readers (who aren’t supplying any valuable information to you), it is important to remember that these days, everyone is a reviewer. By giving away your book, you increase your views and reviews from people who would otherwise skip your book. Although you are forced to be generous at the outset, reviews are well-worth it, because you increase the likelihood that your book will be purchased in the future, having been vetted by other readers.
If you’re starting to feel like you’re never going to be able to charge for your book, don’t worry: it gets better. All of the free copies that you gave away will increase your book’s visibility, build your credibility, and, in the long-run, lead to more sales of your book to paying customers.