eBook pricing: why my first book is free…

It’s simple. I’ve always borrowed books from libraries. From being a child to a cash-stricken student to becoming a fussy adult reader, I have always raided my local library. If I find a book or an author I love, I troop straight off to the nearest bookshop and buy a copy for my bookshelf, and probably everything else they’ve written too. The fact that I borrowed it for free first doesn’t devalue it in the slightest. When I impulse buy a book at full price, usually at the airport five minutes before take off, and it turns out to be not my thing, either in writing style or characters or dialogue or whatever, that’s when I get a tad ticked off.
My first book is listed as an eBook for free so that you can give it a go. Read it with no other investment than a liking for the cover and the blurb, an appreciation for what other people have written about it, maybe a recommendation from a friend and some time. Then if you like it, great, buy the others knowing pretty much what you’re going to get more of.
I talk to business owners, artists and writers included, about how to value your product and work out pricing structures. Creative work is not like any other service or product-based business. If you calculate in the time it takes you to produce your work and then try to bill it per hour, you’ll go potty. It doesn’t add up. Create for the love of it and then find an audience that loves your work – they’ll decide how much they’re prepared to pay for it.
I don’t want to throw my first book into the slush pile of free books on the Internet, but at the same time, it’s great being able to say to people, “It’s free – try it! If you like it, there are two more and a fourth due out next year.” The way I see it is that it’s no different than borrowing a book from the library, or giving someone your copy to try. Some of the best feedback I’ve had has been from people who tried the first one then decided to buy the others because they’ve enjoyed it so much. So I’ll see what happens next year, but for the moment I’m going to be keeping book one free.