SPQ 040: Free Books – Do They Tick Off Paying Customers?

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The Question…

Tom asks via email:

“If people buy your book, and later you give it away for free or discount it, do you get any negative feedback from those who purchased at full price?”

Biggest Takeaway…

The Answer…

This question is from Tom “Big Al” Schreiter, who is a very prolific writer and a great example of someone who takes action. One-third of his sales come from print books, one-third from audiobooks, and one-third from Kindle. He does a great job finding a good balance with all of his different product lines.

Steve believes customers should get the best deal. Some authors make a mistake when they run a free launch and then go back to their lists and try to sell the same book for 99 cents. These are people who know, like, and trust you, so it’s not fair to give other people a better deal. Treat the people who like you with the utmost respect and give them the best possible offer.

Place a lot of value in your email list. Tell your readers that subscribers get the best deals or that subscribers are the first to find out about bulk discounts or special deals. For example, Steve did a fall book sale and a Cyber Monday sale, and the people on his list were the first to find out about them. This makes it worthwhile for someone to sign up for your list.

If someone ever complains about missing out on a free book, let them know you are always running specials and advise them to sign up for your list and check their email regularly. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to check this out. I will be running more discount promotions in the future” goes a long way toward smoothing things over.

If someone is really upset, just send them a free book. Email a PDF or MOBI file, or go to Amazon and buy the book for them. Steve believes in providing the best customer service possible and trying to solve problems for people.

Here’s an example from Steve’s business. Kindle Countdown Deals are only available in the United States and United Kingdom. The program makes it possible to drop your book’s price to 99 cents and still get 70 percent royalties. Steve would love to offer a discount to everyone, but he can’t do that because of Amazon’s rules.

As a workaround, he says, “If this book isn’t 99 cents or the equivalent in your country, email me and I will hook you up with a discount.”

Steve rarely gets negative feedback about this issue, but he has a few rules for his business.

  • Treat your loyal fans with absolute respect. Don’t make them think you are running a scam. If you say a discount ends on a certain date, make sure it ends on that date.
  • Give customers the best possible deals.
  • Encourage new customers to sign up for your list and get discounts.
  • Provide the best possible customer service.

You can’t totally prevent negative reviews related to free or discounted books, but you can eliminate most of them by following the same rules.

Resources and Links

Fortune Now: Tom “Big Al” Schreiter’s website on making money with network marketing

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