Not too long ago we launched Can't Sell, Won't Sell. Today it's had a 7th rating (across all regions) taking the US average to a respectable 4.8 stars.
We wanted to use this to try out a freemium model. That is, it's free on the first of every month but $6.99 the rest of the month. The idea behind this is that those who can't afford to pay (or would rather read it prior to paying to avoid a dud) can give it a whirl. Despite being very niche and non fiction we have had a respectable number of downloads.
That said, we appreciate that as we're not Locke or Hocking our opinion is derived from common sense, academic theory and our own observations. For some, the lack of celebrity glitz is off putting given the price tag.
To try and give everyone a chance at reading this book we're going to move from a freemium model to a completely free model. Our Select 90 days contract tie in runs for another month or so, but at that point we're going to withdraw it from Select, make it free on other distributors and wait for an Amazon price match.
There will be one final 'Select' free day on the 1st of next month within this 90 day period, so this is the next definite freebie date.
Why didn't we just go free from the off?
1. We wanted to test a freemium model. We had hoped the high price point and knowledge of an impending freebie would reduce purchases and increase lends. It probably did. We have some of both (but as ever we can't disclose numbers without breaching Amazon's confidentiality clause). We think there is legroom in such a model, but it's more elegantly done through Smashwords 'Pay what you want feature' as those who buy for free can't rebuy without going through the cumbersome menus to find the 'permanently remove from kindle archive' button.
2. We do like being paid. It's a bit mercenary but it's nice to be able to turn hard work in doing the research into the occasional take away or cinema ticket. We knew it would never be a huge money spinner - our other non fiction is in the 'occasional sale' category.
3. Select gives visibility. By giving away a large number of copies we had a few early reviews, and a small uptick in sales of Dead on Demand. It would be handy to continue this, but on balance giving away Can't Sell, Won't Sell is more useful for the indie community.
So when will it be free?
This is a hard one. Amazon price match as and when they feel like. From the date we upload elsewhere, it will take a few weeks to propagate through from Smashwords and longer still for Amazon to actually notice. We'll probably blog nearer to then to ask for help from you all in the form of clicking the 'Report a cheaper price' button.
Finally, we will be updating the guide. We've covered a number of topics that are useful for self publishers since release, and we're going to assimilate the gist of those posts into the book. For example, the POD posts a few below this one are particularly useful if you are in the 'How do I get into print?' mindset and need to know how much it's likely to cost etc.