Chris Anderson, author of several books including The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, launched an interesting campaign to promote the release of his new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. He made the book available for free in e-book format and in audio on Audible.com (and last time I looked, it was still available for free download and well worth the listen). What did this radical offer do? Inspire people to talk about it (like I’m doing here), which leads to book sales, consulting gigs, speaking engagements, etc.
Seth Godin is also a fan of free give-aways to promote his books. Whether giving away the ebook version or a bonus with purchase, he is a master of building buzz with the concept of FREE.
If your goal is to generate business with your book, giving away the ebook version costs you nothing, yet can yield big rewards. You can use ebook give-aways to:
- Build buzz and get readers talking about your book
- Get people to sign up for your mailing list
- Impress business prospects
- Send to bloggers
- Send to media professionals
- Conduct a contest and give copies away to winners
- Offer as a bonus with purchase of another product or service
- Offer as a bonus that others can give away with their products and services
- Distribute to the audience at speaking engagements
If you’re thinking that this strategy is going to cut into your revenues, then consider this: the real money in publishing isn’t in the book sales. The real money is in the business you generate as a result of your book.
I would personally rather give my ebooks away like candy, which builds buzz and leads to more sales of the print edition. It’s also been a proven strategy for helping me to land clients, speaking gigs, media interviews and more. So what if I lose a few bucks in ebook sales? I make far more from everything else that happens as a result!
By the way, it’s unlikely a traditional publishing company will allow you to do this unless you manage to negotiate it into your book deal contract (the publisher gets the majority of the rights—a frustrating down side). But if you’re self-published, the control is yours and you give it away as much as you want!