Sell the eBook or give it away?

My eBook short story collection, Kiss Shot, is almost ready for primetime. Over the weekend, I made the corrections suggested by my editor along with a couple of small rewrites. The next step is formatting the manuscript for the various eBook uploads (Amazon's is apparently the easiest, while Smahsword's "meat grinder" program sounds hellish). I've even selected the cover art and written up the "jacket" blurb. I had planned to sell the eBook for 99 cents, but I'm also considering giving it away.

I'm not expecting to make a fortune off an eBook of short stories, so I'm wondering if giving it away might be a good opportunity for exposure for my other work, especially with Remain In Light only seven months old in paperback and the new poetry collection, Render, on the way next April. I know friends who have published short story collections with low price and have seen tiny to modest sales.

There are now tons of blogs, websites an opportunities for publicity for writers giving away their ebooks and Amazon even has a free eBook bestseller list.

The four stories in Kiss Shot are all set in the same town of Cottonwood, Georgia. I have already started envisioning other characters and stories from Cottonwood, so Kiss Shot could be a sampler for a larger, future book.

What say ye fellow authors and readers? All opinions welcome.

Comments

Jeffrey Ricker said…
I think since you have multiple titles on the market,a free short story collection might be a way to drive interest in your other works. However, I also think your work is worth paying for
Nancy Ruggeri said…
Can you do something similar to the music business, where you can decide how much to pay with a free option?

I also think there is a psychological aspect here that you need to consider- some may see it as less "valuable" if it is free...
Richard Fenwick said…
I see both sides, Collin, but your thoughts on giving it away are interesting. If you do, because of the nature of the digital format, you can subtly advertise "Remain in Light" et al somewhere within the digits. Readers will be prone to download the giveaway (why not? It's free), and your audience could go up exponentially - all based on the giveaway. Interesting.
Sheila O'Shea said…
You could do both. Put the stories up on a website for anybody to read and link them to Amazon if they'd like a handy formatted ebook version to keep. This is pretty much what I did with Catbooks and Other Methods, since every chapter in the book had a previous life as a blog post.
Cleo Creech said…
Collin - I agree with Nancy there is a sense that if you're giving something away, well it must not really be worth anything. I like the notion of a pay what you can option. Then you can actually retail the book at a higher price, then let people decide what they're going to pay, then they feel like they're getting a deal. But like Richard suggested too why not promote the novel, but why be subtle about it, would your publisher let you include a chapter? then get people hooked and then close with a "for more of the story...". Maybe the short story collection could even have a code/coupon to get a small discount on pre-ordering the novel?

But I wouldn't just give it away. Use it as a marketing tool. Make people think they're getting something.
Collin Kelley said…
Cleo, unfortunately Amazon, Smashwords and B&N are pretty predatory when it comes to how much the book sells for. You have to sell the ebook for the same price across the platforms or one of them -- usually Amazon -- will drop the price to undercut the competition.

Another idea might be to offer the stories free to read online at my site but if you want to download a copy you have to buy it at one of the retailers. I'm going to keep mulling it over.

Thanks for all the comment so far. Keep 'em coming!
Lisa Allender said…
Hi Collin
Remember about eight years (I believe it was 2004) ago, when I complained about artists constantly having to prove their worth? I said then, and I'll say it now: "For some reason, anytime someone has something special that they want to give to people-- a poem, a book, a performance, it's never seen as 'priceless', but 'valueless'."
We discussed it in our trip to Columbus, GA....A Barnes & Noble Reading for You!
But...given you have a novel you could "tease" folks with, maybe a freebie on the ss collection would work well....
My word veri is "orgyfair"
Diane Lockward said…
Collin--If you do an exclusive with Amazon, you can do both sell and free. Every 90 days you get 5 days for a free promotion. You choose the days. The other days the book sells for whatever price you've chosen. I'd go over $2.99 so you receive 70% instead of 30% rebate. The freebie days have been a good way to say thanks to people who've supported my work. Interestingly, after each of my promo days, I've had immediate sales.

I decided to skip Smashwords for my e-chapbook, not because it was too hard but because I wasn't convinced that anyone ever made purchases there.
Collin Kelley said…
Diane, you're a mindreader. Making it an Amazon exclusive so I can sell and give it away is very high on my option list. I'm still toying with the price. I think $2.99 is too high for four short stories when authors are selling entire novels for 99 cents. But, I am going to keep exploring that as well. Thanks for weighing in!
Diane Lockward said…
How much time did you spend on each of those 4 stories? At 99 cents, you're selling each for less than a quarter.
Collin Kelley said…
Diane, yes, it would be a loss but these four stories (which I wrote about 20 years ago) are going to be part of a larger project. I'm looking at this as a teaser for my current novel, the new poetry collection coming out in the spring and as a taste of what's to come in a much larger book.
Diane Lockward said…
Then it makes sense to offer it at the lower price.
Kate Evans said…
Free! Ala the Grateful Dead. :)
Charlene J said…
I'm learning from you guys. Sometimes, giving out a free ebook opens up a greater opportunity in your next coming releases.

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