Pondering The Freebie

One of the often lamented aspects of self publishing is that despite the myriad of awesome opportunities we have to publish digitally through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others, we do not have the opportunity to give stuff away for free like the publishing companies do.

Or do we?

Certainly we can’t list work for free via Kindle Direct Publishing or Pubit, but we DO have the option to list things for free through Smashwords and their Premium Distribution Channels, which does currently include Barnes and Noble and will someday include Amazon.  This is, of course, different from the ability to just offer it for free for a short period and then add a price to it easily, but it’s what we’ve got.   So okay, that’s not really a surprise and not exactly what I’m wondering.

Something that I’ve noticed a lot of while prowling around BN looking for free books (I make a weekly sweep), is that the traditional publishers often offer “sneak peeks” of full length ebooks for free.  This is not, as far as I can tell, any different from having the brains to download a sample, except that the sneak peek is probably a bit longer than the natural sample.  But OODLES of people don’t ever download samples before they buy.  So I guess what I’m wondering is if we as indies can go through Smashwords and create our own “sneak peeks” of our longer work to release for free via all these distribution channels?

I don’t see anything in the assorted terms of service that would disallow something like this.  And I see a few potential benefits.

  1. Readers might download the free sample because they were looking specifically for free stuff, when they would not have otherwise found your work.  The hope, of course, being that they’d get hooked and go buy the whole thing.
  2. It gives additional listings under your name, which should, in theory, help with overall visibility.
  3. It gives yet another opportunity for people to try your work for free to see if it’s to their taste or not, and as I’ve said elsewhere, I totally believe in offering readers that chance.

Anybody tried this?  What are your thoughts?  I decided to give it a try and have created Sneak Peeks for both Forsaken By Shadow and Devil’s Eye.  I’ll let you know how the experiment goes.

4 thoughts on “Pondering The Freebie

  1. Hm. Interesting experiment, and you can control the length of the sample more easily. Did you make the freebie longer than the sample?

    I’ll be interested to see how this works for you… 🙂

  2. I am also intruiged by this prospect and while I have not done it for my short story collection I will certainly look into it for the novel I am now putting together.
    I hope it works for you, and you can once again be a shining example of an indie sucess story whose example we can all follow.

  3. It can work for you or against you depending on your product. Personally, I read books from the library simply because I read so much that if I buy every book, it would add to my clutter of mess. However, if I liked what I read, I buy the book. At the very least, I spread the word that I like the book and people should try it out. It’s free advertising that way.

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