Should you discount your book or give it away free? 1

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image by Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos

image by Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos

Should you discount your book or give it away free?


Derek Halpern is a bit of a social marketing guru. I love his videos. They are so informative and helpful.


Which is why I had to share the one I watched this morning.


Now while this particular video is aimed at product marketing, the principles of why you should never discount are just as important for Indie authors who set their own prices.


One of the quotes that really stood out: “Discounts erode brand value immensely. When people get something at a discount, they’re no longer willing to pay as much money for the same product. Is that how you want people to treat your products?”


Since publishing my books, I have noticed a growing trend on Amazon that is cause for concern. Far too many beginning authors start out giving their book away for free, or price it at  99c.


Why? Because they believe a lower price will help get them more notice. They believe that thousands of downloads will magically make their name known in the publishing world.


But does it have a long term cost?


Well for starters, there’s the lack of earning part. Sure, you may have 100,000 downloads, but if they are 100,000 free downloads, you’ve still made nothing.


As for pricing your book at 99c, not only will you condition consumers to believe books are worth little, you also have to sell more than 10 times the number of books to make the same profit margin as a book that is priced at $3.99.


If you’re getting 100,000 downloads at 99c, it makes fiscal sense. You’re actually making money. But if you’re selling less than 1,000 books a year, you’re making less than $300.


In my experience, most people who download books for free rarely pay for books. Most of them are members of dozens of freebie sites, and only download books that are free or heavily discounted.


Like Derek Halpern says in the video, you end up falling into the trap of having to price all your books free or 99c to keep your fans happy. That’s a lot of hard work and effort for no income.


So what do you think? What has been your experience with pricing books? Do you tend to price at the lower or higher end of the price scale?


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About Riley Banks

Riley Banks is the author of Vampire Origins, and The William S Club. She blogs about books, entertainment, and writing. For more information on Riley Banks and her books, go to

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