Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thursday Themes

The beauty of the blogosphere lies in part in the fact that it's a rich field of opinions on a wide range of subjects. You never know when you're going to trip over a thread that can lead to insight. Such was the case the other day when I read a post by BJ in her blog The Dark Side of the Covers on the subject of free prequels. I posted a comment on her blog at the time but it's been percolating in the back of my mind ever since, so I've decided to take it up where she left off.

You can read BJ's post here.

To summarize, she noted that the e-book phenomenon has bred free spinoffs, often of the prequel variety, that authors will publish in order to publicize an upcoming book. Effective freebies are self-contained and whet our appetite for more, while poor freebies seem truncated or stagnant and can be sloppily edited.

As followers of this blog will know, I've used this technique to spread the word about Blood Passage, the first Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel. I've published six free short stories featuring Donaghue and Stainer so far that can be found here. Others will follow this fall and winter until the collection is complete. The idea is to eliminate cost barriers and give readers a chance to become familiar with the characters and my writing style. Hopefully those who enjoy police procedurals and like the stories will take a shot at the novel, which is now only $0.99. (End commercial.)

Here's the thing: I'd like your opinion on the effectiveness of this approach as a marketing technique. Each story tends to attract the same number of downloaders. I'm assuming/guessing/hoping that people are collecting all the stories as they appear. At the same time, I'm aware that Smashwords has a reputation for being a place to trawl for freebies but not a place where people tend to spend money. So here are a couple of questions:

  • do readers of e-books who download free offerings tend to be willing to pay a buck or two for the primary product if they like the freebie, or do they tend just to graze on the freebies?
  • if you're a downloader of freebies, how long do they tend to sit in your reader before you get around to reading them (ie, how long should I wait before I decide this strategy doesn't work)?
I look forward to your comments on this subject. Fire away!


  1. I'm a big believer in prequels being used to market a novel. But only if it's done right. I'm not a frequent user of smashwords but if I read a prequel that I enjoy there's nothing stopping me from spending .99 or a bit more on an e-book. Having said that, you're right that it takes people a while to read books even if they're very interested. I think you should keep at it. Time isn't necessarily an indication of interest. I have heaps of books I want to read that have been offered for review but it's taking me a while because I am so busy!

  2. I hear you, Lan. Patience is a virtue! Hence the tongue in cheek name of this blog, I might add....