Should you give your book away?

There’s an open secret in the publishing industry…

It’s easier to sell someone a book than to get them to read it.

While in the short term, selling books is helpful — you make some money, your Amazon ranking goes up — if nobody reads the book, it creates a long-term problem.

You can only market so much.

If you do everything on this website and in my paid programs to market your book, you will sell a lot of copies and get it out into the world… but it will only make it so far.

You don’t have the time or money to invest in continuing to push the book to hundreds of thousands or millions of people.

At some point, the readers have to take over.

My friends and business partner, Shawn Coyne, has been in the publishing industry for 30 years. He’s been involved with the publishing of many hundreds of books and even written a New York Times bestseller of his own.

Several years ago he wrote a post titled The 10,000 Reader Rule.

In it he says:

Exposing 10,000 people who care about the arena of your book gives you a chance that enough of them will actually read it and then recommend it to someone else. That word of mouth will keep the book alive from one year to the next.

Word of mouth is the only way a book eventually breaks out and keeps selling.

The Goal: Get 10,000 people to give your book a try.

It’s like a rocket ship.

If you give up on your book after it’s only been read by 5,000 people, your book never makes it out of the atmosphere. It’s going to crash every time.

But if you keep doing the work to get your book in front of 10,000 people, it makes it into orbit. From there you find out if it can fly on its own.

Should you give your book away?

I get this question a lot.

My answer is a question:

“Does it get you more readers?”

If you put book up perm-free on Amazon or download on your website will probably turn into Kindle-stuffing (people loading up their devices with free and cheap books that they never read).

Instead, if you can give your book away in a form that ensures they will actually read it… now that can be something!

Take a look at the promotion I am running for The Sand Sea.

We are getting two things in return for a free copy of the book:

  1. An email address. Building an email list is the most important thing you can do as an author. This allows us to follow up with the reader.
  2. Their agreement to read and review the book. This will greatly increase the likelihood that the person will both read the book and leave a review. I’ve tested it.

Should you give your book away?

Our goal as authors is to get 10,000 people to give our book a try. We want them to read the first page.

You never want to randomly give your book away to strangers.

However, if giving your book away is part of a bigger plan to get people to read the book, then I say YES, do it.

Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the founder of BookLaunch.com. He has worked with authors for a decade to help them build their platform, connect with readers, and sell more books. He has worked 1-on-1 with over a hundred authors including Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, Barbara Corcoran, Chip and Dan Heath, Sally Hogshead and many others. He has also launched dozens of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestsellers.

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