Sunday, December 30, 2012

What Happened To Free Pt 2: Change or Die Pt 3

In my last post I told you how tiny Ty, the Beanie Baby company, used scarcity as a tool to distinguish themselves in the marketplace and become a billion dollar business.  Scarcity is the tool the Big 6 publishers have used for years.  By keeping most authors out of the market, and by controlling the number of books being published, the Big 6 had the market on lockdown.  Then along came Amazon with its "anyone can be a published author attitude" and pretty soon the Big 6 monopoly came tumbling down.  No wonder the Big 6 hates Amazon so much.  Amazon has single-handedly altered the way the public views buying books.

As I said in my last post, the KDP program of giving away your book on Amazon to stimulate sales was a good thing, but like all good things its effectiveness is coming to an end.  That doesn't mean it has to be the end of free ebooks.  Free is a great marketing tool... but so is scarcity.  Here's how you can use scarcity to improve your sales, grow your fanbase, and get some awesome reviews in the process.

Most of what I am about to say has been covered in several earlier posts, but today I am going to put it all together for you in one succinct post.  To begin, if you're an author and you're not on Goodreads, you need to sign up now.  Goodreads is an indie authors second most important marketing tool and it's free.  The reason you need to be on Goodreads is it's the best place to host a giveaway.  Goodreads is like Facebook for avid readers.  All you need to do is post your giveaway and they will do all the work to market it for you.  You can't beat that.

To host a giveaway, go to your Goodreads author dashboard, scroll down to giveaways and click.  Then click on "List a giveaway" (it should be on the upper right hand side) and you're in business.  Goodreads walks you through the rest of the process.  You can give away as many books as you like, but I only give away one.  Giving away just one book makes your book seem a lot more valuable--remember, we're working with scarcity here. 

The first day of your giveaway and the last two days Goodreads promotes it on lists: New giveaways the first day,and soon to be ending giveaways the last two days.  If you hold a 5 day giveaway, Goodreads will be promoting your book for you for 3 of the 5 days.  You can't beat that, either.  The only drawback is you have to give away a paper book (Goodreads is currently working to make ebooks part of the program).  If your book is ebook only, you can go to Createspace and print up a few hard copies just for giveaways.  The time and cost to set this up will be well worth it.  I've had as many as 1400 requests for a free book listed for just a few days.

In the end you've not only given away just one book, but now you have a list of readers who not only know about your book (Impressions) but who want to read your book.  I use this list to find qualified reviewers.  You can now message those who didn't win and offer them a free ecopy of your book in exchange for an Amazon review.  I did this with The Zombie Always Knocks Twice and garnered 10 excellent Amazon reviews in just a few weeks.

Finally, if you've given your book a compelling description, some of those who didn't win the giveaway will buy your book as soon as the contest is over.  So there you have it.  Just as Ty used scarcity to grow their business, and the Big 6 used scarcity to control the market, you, too, can use scarcity to grow your fanbase, your sales and your reviews.  And let's face it, you can't beat that with a stick.



  1. Hi,
    Nice blog. I found you on Book Blogs. I am now following.
    Lisa DuVal

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  2. Excellent post. I'll mention it in my weekly newsletter to my readers. Please let me know if you'd like a copy. Cheers,