The Benefit of Free

In the past two weeks, I’ve seen the advantage of offering a free sample.

When we were on our trip, my parents and I went on a free tour of a Black Hills Gold jewelry maker.  Before the tour, while we perused the display cases of the store, I noticed several pieces that were quite lovely.  However, as I told my parents, while I appreciate the artistry of jewelry, I just don’t wear it often enough to justify buying any.  Then we went on the tour of their factory (a word which somehow doesn’t seem to fit the work space we were in) and I learned very cool things about the way the pieces are made and the traditions of “Black Hills Gold” jewelry.  Returning to the showroom, I had a new appreciation for the product and ended up splurging a necklace for myself.

I had a similar experience with my new Nook.  When it comes to e-books, the free sample concept is how I’ve been deciding if I want to pay for a book or not.  My first official purchase was Theodore Rex, which I saw in a bookstore but didn’t buy.  It was pricey on my Nook (although cheaper than the hard copy), so I didn’t purchase it right away.  Instead, I downloaded a sample.  After about 50 e-pages, I was hooked, and the price no longer seemed too steep.

If you are going to self-publish as an e-book, you should have the option of providing a sample, typically set as a percentage of the novel.  My advice is to do it.  Even if you aren’t charging a lot for your book, that sample may be how people decide if they want to risk a couple of bucks on a story by a new author.

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