Book Publishing Specialists
Give Away My Book for Free?April 16, 2012 by Sam Henrie, President
Way back in 2000, bestselling author Seth Godin released the digital version of his book Unleashing the Ideavirus for free, giving readers permission, even encouraging them, to post, email, print, and pass the book along to others. At the time Godin had a small but devoted group of fans and followers, what he would call a tribe. With evangelical zeal Godin’s tribe did as encouraged and posted, emailed, and passed along the digital version of the book (just a PDF file) to anyone and everyone who might be interested. Unleashing the Ideavirus quickly became one of the most widely read books on marketing in the world. Within four weeks of the release of the free digital version, the $40 hardcover version of the book hit #4 on The New York Times bestsellers list. Offering the digital version for free was the key to turning the not-free print version of Unleashing the Ideavirus into a bestseller. Eleven bestsellers later Godin has one of the largest tribes of any marketing guru on the planet.
I love this story, because it contains so many amazing marketing lessons. I’m going to focus on just one of them here: To grow your tribe—and sell lots of books—you have to have something free to give away to those not yet ready to buy.
You too have a tribe, even if it currently consists only of you and your spouse, a relative, or a friend who is interested in what you’re writing about. The good news is that the members of your tribe will buy your book when it’s released. The bad news is that the members of your tribe are the only people who will buy your book when it’s released.
How do you get people outside of your tribe to buy your book? You and your spouse, relative, or friend could stand behind a table at a bookstore and ask random passersby to take $30 out of their wallets in exchange for a book that hasn’t been recommended to them, may not be on a subject they’re interested in, by an author they’ve never heard of before … but you won’t get far.
Or … you could you put yourself in front of the right crowd—your target market—and offer to give them a free PDF containing some of your most compelling content on a subject they’re very interested in. Somewhere in this free PDF you could convince the readers to engage with you further: You could tell them where to find your blog, how to get on your mailing list, where to buy your book, and how to get more free stuff. Maybe then they’ll be inclined to join your tribe, buy your book, and start emailing your free PDF to other potential tribe members.
You, of course, aren’t limited to written content, and you’re not limited to having just one freebie, but you must have some free stuff. Free stuff is an essential component of the sales funnel you need build, to grow your tribe and sell more books.
Granted, Seth Godin already had an established (though small) platform when he started giving away digital copies for free. So, if you feel you can’t identify with his example, how about … Mark A. Hollingworth? He recently released his autobiography, Embracing the Gray, through Wheatmark. Mark tells us that he “decided to take the Seth Godin mantra that scarcity is not your friend” and set his Kindle price as low as possible and let his readers download a PDF copy of his book on his website for free. He put a video book trailer on YouTube with an offer to get the book for free, and invited all his contacts to watch it. He ended up giving away 400 PDFs, and as a result, his Kindle shot up to #15 in religious biographies in a short period of time, with the paperback not far behind. (See more about him on the opposite page.) Giving away content for free often creates momentum for book sales.
For more information about Seth Godin and his books, visit sethgodin.com. To see how Mark A. Hollingsworth gives away his book on his website, visit markahollingsworth.com, go through the process, and score a free copy.
By the way, if you know someone who’s shopping for publishing services, please tell them about The Author’s Guide to Choosing a Publishing Service available as a PDF for free at authorsguide.info.
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