Free Reviewed

A year ago I wrote a blog saying “Too Much Free is Bad.” In it I claimed free ebooks would increase supply, thus lower demand for non-free titles, thus book prices in general. I think this has happened. But now, I also think free, bad or not, is here to stay. And, I also believe free is the only way an indie author can attract a few initial readers. Being so, I’m running some trials to assess the factors that cause readers to select a free ebook. In my first test I ran three of my ebooks on Amazon.com to assess the importance of reviews in attracting an audience. I offered each ebook free for 2 days. I did no marketing, not even a single tweet. The first ebook was a 7,000 word short story called THE JESUS TWIN. It had no reviews. It attracted 1 download over a 2 day period. Awesome! Next was THE GENERAL STORE. It is a 50,000 word novel. It also had no reviews, (probably because folks are being kind). It received 110 downloads. I then offered my novel, THE WALKING MAN. It has 18 reviews, mostly five stars. It has 10 hours to go. It has received 550 downloads…

This is a small sample, but it would seem to indicate reviews are a lead factor in a free download decision. I think this means readers are not just stuffing their kindles with free ebooks just because they’re free. It appears readers are being selective, which would indicate many “buyers” intend to read their free downloads, or at least check them out. I think this is a good sign. Of course, there is Jan at Goodreads.com. She is downloading free ebooks at an amazing rate. With 7000 books on her “to-read” shelf, if Jan was welded to her reading chair today (and fed intravenously) she’d have to live to be 130 to clear out her library. God speed Jan.