They say the best things in life are free. Just ask anyone sitting on a beach, petting their dog, or enjoying a romantic

coupling.

 

They also say there is no such thing as a free lunch. Just ask anyone who gets a free hotel night after

taking a two-hour timeshare property tour.

 

Well, when it comes to book publicity, free costs a lot. Make no mistake about it.

Have a look at the true cost of these “free” activities:

 

Book giveaways.

Authors pay to give their books away when they sign up with GoodReads, LibraryThing and other give-away services. Whenever authors give away printed books, the cost of printing and shipping needs to be factored in, as well as the cost of membership to these sites.

 

Website downloads.

Free means it can’t be sold. You are giving away content that you created and could otherwise be compensated for.

 

Social media accounts.

It is free to be on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms, but it costs you time and mindshare. Time is money.

 

Free webinars or workshops.

Spending time to set them up, recruit attendees, crafting your presentation, dress rehearsals, and the execution of the event could be time spent on making money. Plus you are giving away content that could be charged for.

 

Pricing your e-book at zero.

All of these free downloads cost you opportunity to sell that book to those people.

Contacting the news media on your own.

It takes a lot of time and effort — and some book and mailing costs — to reach out to the news media in hopes of getting reviews, interviews, or media coverage.

 

Everything you do — even the free things — can cost money, time, lost opportunity, and mindshare. Is it worth it? 

 

You can do some type of crude cost analysis to measure how many leads were generated from your activities and then attach a dollar amount to the effort and the result. But on instinct, all of this free activity seems to make sense because it is what is available to you. You do it because you can, and because seemingly not enough alternatives are available to you.

 

Free can possibly lead to:

 

* More book reviews being posted.

* Social media posts being made by others about your book.

* Sales for your other books that are not free.

* Media exposure of your book.

* Sales of other items or services that you offer.

* Positive word of mouth.

* Random discovery by publishers, literary agents, and Hollywood.

* Good will from charities.

* The spreading of your book’s message and the impacting of lives that otherwise would go untouched. 

 

Free is a business model employed by many industries. Just look: 

 

* Pro sports teams give something away as s lure for you to come to the arena.

* Streaming services offer free months in a trial period.

* Lawyers and financial advisors give free consults to prospective clients.

* Publications, to get subscribers, allow for some free copies.

* Charities, to inspire larger donations, vow to give you a freebie.

* Many businesses attach something free to a purchase — buy one, get one free.

* Supermarkets, restaurants, and flea markets offer free samples.

* Convention booths readily give swag out. 

 

So, why should the book industry be any different?  

 

Well, the economic scale is very different. Authors don’t make a lot of money on a book sale but they seem to invest a lot to earn that sale. Then again, no one puts a gun to their head to give things away. 

 

Still, it may just be that authors feel they have little choice in the matter. If their options are limited and their competitors are doing it, well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. 

 

There certainly are success stories from all of the free activity. Authors get more reviews, sales, and word of mouth going as a result. But they need to go into this type of marketing knowing that they easily can give away the equivalent of thousands of dollars in books, postage, digital content, and time that could be used to earn a paycheck.

 

For the industry overall, free is a losing proposition. Authors are only training consumers to read for free. Millions of free books and pieces of content being read means people have less time and little desire to read books one has to buy. 

 

However, the author seeking to establish their brand and grow their name could serve themselves well by giving some things away. 

 

Free is a gold mine of opportunity with a cost. You must decide if it is worth it.  

 

Please Contact Me For Help

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at [email protected] He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres.

 

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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a “best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.