Comprehensive Reader Survey—Authors, Here's Your Chance!


PLEASE FEEL FREE TO FORWARD THIS LINK TO YOUR AUTHOR LOOPS!

This next survey is going to be a big one, and I need everyone's help in spreading the word. This is a two-part request…

We're going to survey READERS this time in what we hope will be a huge, landmark survey that covers everything authors want to know about readers in the digital age, including discoverability, what works (and what doesn't) for getting the word out, where readers are getting their info about books (and where they are not), what matters to them and what doesn't, what attracts them to an author and what turns them off, etc. 

So here's your big chance! What do you want to know? We've got a basic set of questions in mind, but we want this survey to be driven by authors. So send me your burning questions OFF THIS LOOP at marie@marieforce.com. We're making no guarantees that all questions sent in will be included and apologize in advance if yours are not included. We're hoping to ask the most pressing, burning questions, so some may not make the cut. But we'll do our best to accommodate as many as we can. LIMIT: TWO questions per author, so think about what YOU most want to know about reader preferences.

To participate, send your question in THIS format ONLY (anything not submitted in this format will NOT be included):

Sample Question: Where do you get information about new books?
Sample format for Answers:
A. Facebook
B. Twitter
C. Websites
D. Retailer reviews
E. Retailer recommendations
F. Author mailing lists/newsletters
G. All of the above

You may include as many possible answers as necessary to properly address your question. 
Deadline for submission of questions: Wednesday, May 15. 

The second half of my request will be in helping to publicize the survey when it is open for reader input. More to come on that later in May! 

Thanks in advance for your help with this new survey!

List of questions already submitted:

I prefer to read (choose as many as apply)
A. Paperback books
B. Hard cover books
C. E-books
D. Audio Books
E. All of the above

How much attention do you pay to who publishes a book that interests you?
A. Some attention
B. No attention
C. Doesn't matter to me
D. Means everything to me

Are you more or less likely to buy a self-published book from a known-to-you author:
A. More likely
B. Less likely

Are you more or less likely to buy a self-published book from an unknown-to-you author:
A. More likely
B. Less likely

What platform do you use for purchasing e-books (choose as many as apply)
A. Kindle
B. Kobo
C. Nook
D. Ibooks
E. Google Books
F. Author's website
G. Other
H. All of the above

Where do you get the most information about books? (Choose one)
A. Facebook
B. Twitter
C. Author websites
D. Author newsletters
E. Retail sites

Where do you get the most information about your favorite authors? (Choose all that apply)

A. Facebook
B. Twitter
C. Author websites
D. Author newsletters
E. Retail sites
F. Goodreads

How much do reviews in general factor in to you purchasing a book?
A. Very much
B. Somewhat 
C. Not very much
D. Not at all

Which reviews are most important to your decision to purchase a book? (Choose one)
A. Blog reviews
B. Publication reviews (RT Book Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, etc.)
C. Reader reviews posted to retail sites
D. Goodreads reviews

Do you subscribe to any of the following publications (click all that apply)
A. RT Book Reviews
B. Publishers Weekly
C. Kirkus
D. Booklist
E. New York Times Sunday edition
F. USA Today

Please click on each of the following publications if it has recently (in the last month or two) influenced your decision to purchase a book or try a new author:
A. RT Book Reviews
B. Publishers Weekly
C. Kirkus
D. Booklist
E. New York Times Book Review
F. Other (open ended)

How important are "star ratings" on retail sites in your decisions to purchase books?
A. Very Important--I only buy books that meet my star-ratings criteria
B. Somewhat Important--Seeing low star-ratings will make me wait to buy a book
C. Not That Important--I will try a book with low star-ratings if I like the cover/teaser/sample
D. Not At All Important--I don't trust star-ratings

How often has a free book introduced you to a new author you wouldn't have tried without the free offering?
A. More than 20 times
B. More than 15 times
C. More than 10 times
D. More than 5 times
E. Never

How likely were you to buy a second book from an author if you enjoyed his or her free book?
A. Extremely likely
B. Somewhat likely
C. Somewhat unlikely
D. Have never bought a second book because I read only free books

How often do you visit brick and mortar bookstores such as Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller?
A. Twice a month or more
B. Once a month
C. Twice a year
D. Not once in the last year

When thinking about your favorite authors, what is the most important aspect of their books that keeps you coming back for more?
A. Characters
B. Setting
C. Writing
D. Storytelling
E. All of the above

How important is editing to your enjoyment of a book? (Choose the one that best describes your habits)
A. Typos don't bother me all that much
B. Typos drive me mad
C. If the editing isn't good in the first book I try, I'm done with that author forever
D. If the editing isn't good in the first book I try, I might give the author another chance with a second book

Does seeing "New York Times Bestseller" or "USA Today Bestseller" above an author's name make you more likely to purchase a book from an author you may not already know?
Yes
No

How often do you peruse the New York Times bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly
Monthly
Rarely
Never

How often do you peruse the USA Today bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly
Monthly
Rarely
Never

How often do you peruse the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly
Monthly
Rarely
Never

How often do you peruse the Publisher's Weekly bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly
Monthly
Rarely
Never


Do you subscribe to the newsletter of your favorite author(s)? 
Yes
No
Why? (open ended)

What kind of news do you prefer from authors via their newsletter? (check all that apply)
A. New releases
B. Upcoming releases
C. Exciting news, such as awards or bestseller lists
D. News about other authors' books
E. Info about what your favorite author is reading
F. Don't read author newsletters, so this question doesn't apply to me

Do you subscribe to the blog of your favorite author? 
Yes
No
Why? (open ended)

Do you subscribe to any of the following services for information about free or reduced-price books (check all that apply)
A. BookBub
B. Pixels of Ink
C. Kindle Fire Department
D. Other (open ended, please name any others)

Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Twitter?
Yes
No

What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on Twitter?
Open ended

Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Facebook?
Yes
No

What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on Facebook?
Open ended

Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Pinterest?
Yes
No

What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on Pinterest?
Open ended

Do you look for authors on other social media platforms?
Yes
No
If yes, which ones? (open ended)


How price sensitive are you? Check all that apply:
A. I will not pay more than $.99 for an ebook.
B. I will not pay more than $2.99 for an ebook.
C. I will not pay more than $4.99 for an ebook.
D. If I want the book, I don't care what the price is.
E. I do not pay for ebooks. I wait until they are available for free and download them then.
F. I am willing to pay more for an ebook published by a major publisher than for an ebook that is indie-published.

If you are reading a digital novella (for this question, say it has a maximum word count of 25,000), what is the price you would expect to pay for that work?

What is the average price that you would expect to pay for a digital full-length novel (80,000 words and up)?


What kind of bonus material would you be willing to pay extra for?  (Assume that the novel with bonus content would cost a dollar more than the basic novel.  Check all answers that apply.)
a. Author interview
b. Scene by scene commentary by author
c. Bonus short story, related to novel
d. Bonus short story, unrelated to novel
e. Deleted scenes
f.  None of the above
g.  Other _____

What content do you value on an author's mailing list?  Check all that apply.
a.  Special discounts for newsletter subscribers
b.  Announcement of new books
c.  Behind the scenes information about current books
d.  Updates about the author's personal life
e. Book recommendations
f.  Book industry news
g. Other ____

Does an endorsement (cover blurb) from a well-known author influence your decision to buy an unknown author’s book?
Yes
No


If you buy audio books, where do you purchase them:
Amazon
iTunes
Other

If Yes, how many have you purchased in the past year:
1-10
10-20
More than 20


Do video book trailers influence your decision to buy a book?
A) I always watch a book trailer if there is one.
B) I have bought books after watching a book trailer.
C) I watch book trailers but am just as likely not to buy the book.
D) Book trailers don't influence me one way or the other.
E) I don't bother to watch book trailers.


Which elements of a cover design most impact your decision to purchase a book? (select all that apply)
A. Professionalism of the design
B. Appearance of the hero
C. Appearance of the heroine
D. I prefer designs without people
E. Fonts used
F. I prefer illustrated covers
G. Covers rarely influence me

I prefer to read stories that include (select one)
A. The hero's POV only
B. The heroine's POV only
C. Multiple POVs
D. I prefer first-person POV
E. Doesn't matter

Author Know Thy Business: The Power of FREE Books, Survey Results

By: Marie Force, NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

A month or so ago, an author I follow on Facebook made the statement that she would never, ever, EVER offer a book of hers for free. Her feeling was that she works far too hard on her books to ever give them away. People jumped all over her for taking that stand, but like all things in this business, my feeling is to each her own. We all have to operate within our own comfort zones and do what feels right for our careers. This author had very strong feelings on this issue, and should be respected for stating them. I've been assailed on Twitter by authors I don't know, who have told me I'm a fool to give my books away. I disagree.

My dad, who ran a business for years, likes to say that you have to give a little to get a little. I fully agree with that. In today's crowded digital marketplace, how do authors find readers and how do readers find authors? One way that is yielding results for more and more authors is to offer free books for short or extended time periods. Readers perusing the free offerings stumble upon the free book, like what they read and go on to buy an author's entire backlist. To me, that's a huge WIN and it costs us nothing. You can't make the argument that it costs you the profits of the sale you could've made to that reader, because let's be real—95 percent of the time, that reader probably never would've tried you out if the book wasn't free.

Here's an example of how a free offering has worked for me. Jane Q. Reader, who has never heard of Marie Force, sees Maid for Love as a free offering and thinks it sounds like a fun book. She downloads it and a month or two later she gets around to reading it. She loves it! She immediately downloads book 2, Fool for Love. She goes on to read the entire 8-book (and growing) McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, and when she finishes that series, she moves on to the rest of my 25 books. Let's face it, Jane never would've tried my book if it wasn't free, so how am I "losing" anything by giving her one for free and then selling 24 others to her once she discovers she likes my style?

I've experienced this same scenario over and over and over again since I offered Maid for Love for free beginning last June 15. To me, every new reader I hook with my free book is a reader who wouldn't have known about me or tried any of my books were it not for the freebie. The ground swell from the free offering of Maid for Love grew and grew and grew, leading to book 8, Waiting for Love, being the first of my books to hit the NYT list in March of this year. I tie that showing on the besteller lists directly back to book 1 being a freebie. Here is a breakdown of how the numbers came out for me on the free offering of Maid for Love. And then read on to see how free offerings have worked for a variety of other authors.


Marie Force

Primary genre: Contemporary Romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 16

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $4.99

I have offered __3___ books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Maid for Love

And the number of free downloads was: ____470,000________ from June-December 2012 (this number is Amazon only--I didn't track the other retailers as well as I should have, so those results are not as well documented as they could be).

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): The book was free first on Kobo and the iBookstore. Amazon matched the price.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon, Kobo, iBookstore, B&N (via Smashwords)

As a result of the free offering of  Maid for Love, I had 72,698 Amazon purchases of Fool for Love, book 2, in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series and tens of thousands of sales of books 3-8. In addition, Fool for Love posted the following sales totals at other retailers from June-December 2012:
Apple 11,831
B&N 5781 (MFL was free for a much shorter period at B&N)
Kobo 2765

Overall, Fool for Love (originally published in May 2011) sold 111,000 copies last year, most of them due to the free offering of Maid for Love.

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Facebook, Twitter, website, blog.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: Astonishing results! I have no doubt that the fact book 8, Waiting for Love, hit the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists is directly related to the free offering of Maid for Love. In addition, the sales of all my books have taken off since Maid for Love was offered for free.

On the traditional published side, after much begging and pleading from me, Harlequin offered Fatal Affair, book 1 in my Fatal Series, for free in November and December. I’ve only seen numbers for November so far, but there were more than 90,000 downloads in November, which led to more than 180,000 sales of the other four books in the series, which put book 5, Fatal Deception, on the USA Today list in November.

Of all the promotional strategies I’ve tried as an author, FREE has worked best, with nothing else even coming close in terms of tangible results.

Here are the results reported by other indie authors...



Anonymous  

Primary Genre: urban fantasy.  

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 14

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $4.99

I have offered 3 books for free as a self-publisher (1 novel, 2 novelettes)

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Anonymous

And the number of free downloads was: 34,427 over 100 consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): price matching from Apple and Kobo

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon US, Kobo, iTunes

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had a 45% increase in sales of book two and a 30% increase in sales of book three in the series

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Occasional blog or Facebook post

Comments about the impact of your free offering: Released a fourth book at the same time as going perma-free on book #1, so not certain if the new release or the free edition is what is driving the sales increase on books two and three.

Lisa Mondello

Primary genre: Contemporary Romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 10

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $3.99

I have offered __3___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

And the number of free downloads was: _650,000_ over __16 months__consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Price-matching through Smashwords for Kobo and iTunes

The book was free at the following retail outfits: iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon, Sony Ebooks

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had __2___ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*  Subsequent books in the series initially.  Then all my books benefited from the free book for several months so that when my second series was released with book 1 at 99 cents and book 2 and 3 at $3.99, that series took off right from the start.

Promotional efforts for my free book included:  None.  Just the free book

Comments about the impact of your free offering:  As soon as All I Want for Christmas is You went free, book 2 The Marriage Contract and book 3, The Knight and Maggie's Baby took off in sales.  They continued to sell very well and then sales evened out when the next series came out a few months later.  That next series took off in sales and outsold the first.  I have used limited free for the first book in the second series and have had similar results.  Now, every time I make a book free, I get a bump in sales on all the books.  I only have a max of 2 books out of 10 free at any given time. 

Cynthia Woolf  

Historical western romances and sci-fi romance.

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013:  I have 11 books, 2 short stories and 1 boxed set available.

Most of my self-published books are priced at:  2.99

I have offered __3___ number of books for free as a self-publisher, all in the sci-fi romance genre.  My westerns sell well without offering them for free.

The title of the free book with the most downloads was:  The Swords of Gregara - Jenala

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed):  Free via KDP Select

The book was free for how many consecutive days: 3 days

The book was free at the following retail outfits:

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had about a half dozen sales of all my books in that series as a result of the free offerings.  But it has gone up with each subsequent free offering.  From 1 book to the 6 or 7.

Promotional efforts for my free book included:  Twitter, FB and Yahoo loops

Comments about the impact of your free offering:  My free offering had almost no impact on sales.  I sold maybe 6 as a result of the free book.  It could be the genre I was promoting, scifi romance, as it is not as popular as some other genres.

Mary Virginia Munoz   writing as Virginia Carmichael and Mary Jane Hathaway

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 2

Most of my self-published books are priced at: 2.99

I have offered __2___ number of books for free as a self-publisher (total downloads about 10K)

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: All The Blue of Heaven

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): KDP

The book was free for how many consecutive days: 2

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*

Promotional efforts for my free book included: tweeting, blogging, facebook, ebooksy, ereadernewstoday

Comments about the impact of your free offering: It definitely helped! The first month I had a few hundred sales of Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits. After I did the first free promo, the sales were a steady 10-15 a day at 2.99. Free worked the same as dropping the price; it seemed to get the book high enough on the charts to get some notice and then when the promo was over, I had a few weeks of really good sales.

Ginny Baird

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 17

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $2.99
I have offered 14 books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Mistletoe in Maine

And the number of free downloads was: 36,593 over 5 consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): I launched this book through Amazon KDP Select and ran my 5-day promotion over Thanksgiving weekend 2012.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Only at Amazon initially. Since I've taken Mistletoe in Maine to other platforms, I've run short-term free promotions (where allowed) to introduce the book.

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I sold 10,090 copies of Mistletoe in Maine over the next 90 days and saw an increase in sales in all books in the Holiday Brides Series. *

Promotional efforts for my free book included: FB, Twitter, Author Newsletter and Author Web Site

Comments about the impact of your free offering:

* It's hard to attribute a specific number of increased sales of subsequent books in the series to the promotion for Mistletoe in Maine, as I've steadily launched new titles through KDP Select and have published 17 titles in the past fifteen months (3 in a different genre under a pseudonym) since starting indie publishing in December 2011.

So, while I did not (until just recently) have a permanently "free" book, I believe I received a similar benefit of increased visibility by having a free offering at Amazon every four to eight weeks. I've also run free promotions on other platforms and -- while I don't have concrete numbers for each of these -- estimate I gave away roughly 200,000 free copies in 2012 alone (approximately 170,000 of those at Amazon US).

I'd never published before as Ginny Baird, so had no name recognition, back list or track record, and only one previously released romance to reissue under the Ginny Baird brand, so it was pretty much starting from scratch for me. Free promotional opportunities allowed me to get my work out there, so readers could discover me. Many of them have and are continuing to buy my books! I'm so very grateful to have been able to quit the day job and focus exclusively on my writing, thanks to my indie sales. In large part, I owe being "discovered" to my use of the free promotion. It has worked better for some books than others, but overall "free" has certainly worked for me!

Danielle Bourdon

Contemporary romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013:  15 novels.

Most of my self-published books are priced at:  $3.99

I have offered 4 books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was:  Heir Untamed

And the number of free downloads was: 153,950 over 22 consecutive days.

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed):   Heir Untamed went free on iTunes on March 24th.  Amazon price matched 5 days later.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: iTunes, Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had 27,903 subsequent sales of books in the series.

Promotional efforts for my free book included:  Only the free book. No other major advertising at that time.

Comments about the impact of your free offering:  Once Heir Untamed hit #1 free on iTunes, it pulled books 2 and 3 in the series into the top ten. From there, I saw a sudden uptick in sales across all other sites on books 2 and 3. Not only that, but the number of emails, blog hits and facebook 'friending' exploded.

Mara Jacobs

contemporary romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 6 novels and 1 anthology

Most of my self-published books are priced at:  $3.99 now, but I started my contemporary romances at $2.99 because that seemed to be a more competitive price point for self-published contempt romance. They were at $2.99 when they "took off" after book 1 went free. I just recently changed them to $3.99.

I have offered _1____ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Worth The Weight

And the number of free downloads was: 358,000 downloads on perma-free since December 24th to April 15th

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Made free on Kobo and Apple, B&N through Smashwords, and price matched on Amazon.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Kobo, B&N, Amazon, Apple, SW
Apple was the big surprise for me. It doesn't give me Amazon numbers, but is more than twice what B&N is for me, and the Apple folks have been very good to me, featuring Worth The Weight as a Breakout Book and putting it on their cover pages a lot.

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*
Book 2 in the series - Worth the Drive - 29,064
Book 3 in the series  - Worth the Fall - 26,862
again, this is all from 12/24 - 4/15
I did see a small bump in my romantic mystery books, but nowhere near the 2&3 in the series books

Promotional efforts for my free book included: As soon as Amazon price matched I let the bargain book subscription services know. It got picked up in the first week by ebook impresario, ENT, POI, and I ran a BookBub ad. 3 months later, I ran another BookBub ad and POI ran it again, giving it another boost for the free one and books 2  & 3.
The day of the 12/31 BookBub ad I had 23,000 downloads of Worth The Weight
The day of the 3/23 BookBub ad I had 22,000 downloads of Worth The Weight
Each time, about 3-5 days after the free book bump, books 2 and 3 surged.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: I had books 1 & 2 of my series up for 3 months and had sold around 204 units total. Getting the 3rd book up and putting the first one on perms-free has been crazy good! It literally has changed my life in 3 months. (ok, 10 years of writing and 3 months of self-publishing!)

Marie Hall

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 7

Primary genre: Fairytale Romance

Most of my self-published books are priced at: 2.99

I have offered ___2__ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Her Mad Hatter

And the number of free downloads was: __over 80,000 downloads__ over _nine months, this is a perma free title

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): It is free everywhere thanks to price-matching/Smashwords distribution at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Itunes, Smashwords and even All Romance Ebooks

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had __over 21,000 paid downloads of all other books in the series_ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books *

Promotional efforts for my free book included: I didn't do any promo on the free book. It's just been found, I think it helps that there aren't many Mad Hatter romances out there and I happen to fit into a niche with a small, but very ravenous crowd of readers.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: I am a completely unknown author, before I put my book to free I’d only managed to sell 68 copies of books for that month. The same month my book went perma free, I also uploaded the third book to the series. My sales took off. I went from selling 68 a month to over 300 that next month. Each month sales increased until I’m now averaging between 3000-5000 sales a month on all my other books at Amazon alone. Her Mad Hatter helped catapult my Kingdom Series to the point that I’ve been nominated for best series of 2012 at The Romance Reviews and the Indie Convention. I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything with keeping Hatter as a perma-free title since it’s gotten me the visibility I needed to make Kingdom a bestselling series. I’ve since released my first NA Contemporary Romance ‘A Moment’ and believe that the reason why it has sold the way it has is directly because of Hatter’s success. Perma free has been one of the best methods of promotion I’ve found so far.

Lauren Royal

Genre: Historical romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 13 (9 novels, 1 novella, 3 boxed sets)

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $4.99 for novels; $9.99 for 3-novel boxed sets; my novella is currently a perma-freebie everywhere except B&N, where it's 99 cents)

I have offered 1 book for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Forevermore

And the number of free downloads was: 103,009 over 355 consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): The book is/was free at the following retail outfits: Apple from 4/25/12 until now (via simply listing it for free); Amazon from 5/7/12 until now (via price-matching); Kobo from 8/14/12 until now (via simply listing it for free)

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*
Well, it's very difficult to tell what sales were due to the free offering and what might have happened, anyway. And then there's the fact that all of my books are connected, so sales of my other trilogies could be a result of sales from this first series.  That said, in the same series as my freebie, I have sold the following number of paid books since I went free on each store:

Apple: 1181

Amazon: 6794

Kobo: 168

Promotional efforts for my free book included: I mention it nearly every week in my newsletter and on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest. No other promo efforts so far.

Comments about the impact of your free offering:  I look at my free offering as an opportunity for readers to try one of my books without risking any monetary layout. As this novella was priced at only 99 cents to begin with, I feel I make more money (via other sales) by giving it away than I did selling it.

WJ Davies

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 1

Primary genre: Science Fiction - Short Story

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $.99

I have offered __1___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: The Runner (A Silo Story)

And the number of free downloads was: ______1845______ over _____2_______consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon.com/UK/CA etc

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific* (I only have 1 book available, perhaps this question doesn't apply to me)

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Twitter, facebook, blog

Comments about the impact of your free offering: My book may be unique in that it started out very strong (up to #670 paid in kindle store within 2 weeks of release). As soon as my book started slipping in sales rank, falling to the #2000 rank, I made it free for 2 days and had an explosion of free downloads. After that, it returned to consistent sales in the top #2000-#4000 paid, where it has remained for the past several months. If I slip below #5000, I will run a free campaign again, and when I come out with the sequel I will make the first book free for several days.

Elisabeth Naughton

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 12

Primary genre: Romantic Suspense & Paranormal

Most of my self-published books are priced at: Average price for all my titles is $4.99. 

I have offered __4___ books for free as a self-publisher.

Every time I've offered a book for free, I've seen a jump in sales of other books, not only in the series the book is free, but in other series as well.

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: WAIT FOR ME

And the number of free downloads was: _____500,000_______ over _____30_______consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Price matching. WAIT FOR ME was initially free at Apple and Kobo, then Amazon price matched the free price.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Apple, Kobo & Amazon

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*

Sales of all my books shot up because of the free listing. 

Promotional efforts for my free book included: I only ran one BookBub ad for WAIT FOR ME – after three weeks on the USA Today Bestsellers list, and knowing I was outselling most of the books on the NYT List, I ran a BookBub ad hoping to generate more sales at B&N. I had been told by several writers that the reason the NYT was likely ignoring my sales numbers was because the majority of my sales were coming from Amazon, and in order to be recognized, a book has to be selling well at several vendors. While it was selling okay at B&N, it wasn't selling there the way it had been selling at Amazon. The BookBub ad pushed me to #2 at B&N, and as a result, the NYT finally recognized my sales. 

Comments about the impact of your free offering: WAIT FOR ME is not part of a series. I didn't make it free to generate sales of other books, but instead was hoping to garner a little more visibility for a book I love. Of all my books, it had the highest ratings, but was selling the slowest. So, I made it free with the singular goal of generating a more reviews for a book readers and reviewers were enjoying. A week after it went free, it shot to the top of Amazon's free list. Over the next three weeks, I gave away more than 500,000 copies. When I moved it to paid, it shot to the top of the paid Amazon list and hovered between #2-3 for weeks. As a result of the free listing, WAIT FOR ME hit every major bestseller's list – New York Times (#3 on ebook list, #4 on combined list), USA Today (#6), Wall Street Journal (#4), Digital Book World (#2) and IndieReader (#1). It spent 5 weeks on the NYT List and 9 weeks on the USA Today list. If I had not made the book free, none of this would have happened.

As a result of the free sale, I've also sold multiple foreign rights deals, WAIT FOR ME will soon be out in audio, and I've even had Hollywood interest in movie rights. 

Jason Gurley

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 3 novels, 1 serial novel (1 installment complete)

Primary genre: Science fiction

Most of my self-published books are priced at:  $2.99 for full-length novels, $0.99 for serial novel installments

I have offered 4 books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: The Man Who Ended the World

And the number of free downloads was: 11,141 over 3 consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): I used KDP Select for all of my giveaways.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon.

As a result of the free offering of The Man Who Ended the World, I had 272 sales and 108 borrows.

Promotional efforts for my free book included:
- Social media
- Blog
- Listing on e-reader sites

Comments about the impact of your free offering: When I offered The Man Who Ended the World for free, it went through the roof. I expected a hundred downloads, perhaps, and ended up with just over 11,000. It was satisfying to refresh my reports page and see the numbers jump each time. This giveaway drove nearly 300 sales of my novel in February, 2013. The novel, I should add, was my first, and had only been for sale since January.

I have detected a significant slowdown in downloads whenever I run subsequent giveaways (for any title). The largest number of free downloads I've gotten for any other title has been 3,080. It seems like Amazon's change to the terms of affiliate agreements may have resulted in fewer e-reader sites offering links to free books.

Kelly McClymer

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 9 novels, 4 short stories

Primary genre: historical romance

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $4.99 for novels; 99 cents for short stories

I have offered 2 novels and 2 short stories for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: The Fairy Tale Bride

And the number of free downloads was: 75,000 over 120 consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): price-matching (Smashwords free distribution for B&N), direct free price at Kobo

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon, Sony, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had hundreds of sales for the other books in the series (not much sales crossover with non-series)

Promotional efforts for my free book included: POI (amazing!), blogging, virtual book tour (*not* worth it, poor tour host), a few guest posts on other author blogs, Facebook mentions, Twitter mentions

Comments about the impact of your free offering: going free has put me consistently in the Kindle top 100 free historical romance, and has even gotten the book on the Kindle top 100 free storewide three separate times; my B&N ranking is also consistently good, which leads to steady sales of the other books on that venue; not as much impact on iTunes or Kobo (yet); the number of reviews shot up (good and bad reviews)

Stephanie Queen

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013:  4

Primary genre: romantic comedy mystery

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $3.99

I have offered __3___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Playing the Game

And the number of free downloads was: __21,000__________ over ___3_________consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): KDP Select

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _800 sales of the same book sold the following week______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Ereader News Today listing

Comments about the impact of your free offering:  The sudden spike in sales gave my book a boost onto the sports romance category list and now it sells regularly to this day. I'm thrilled because it's a stand-alone book--so far--not part of a series.

Minx Malone/M. Malone

Primary genre: contemporary romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 6 books

Most of my self-published books are priced at: 3.99 or 4.99

I have offered __3___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Teasing Trent

And the number of free downloads was: 235,000 over 180 days (6 months) consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed):  Price matching - I direct uploaded and set to free at Kobo, iBooks and I used Smashwords to push to B&N

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks

As a result of the free prequel offering of "Teasing Trent", I had 59,000 downloads of the sequel "One More Day - The Alexanders, Book 1" and 18,000 downloads of "The Things I Do for You - The Alexanders, Book 2" 

Promotional efforts for my free book included:  I didn't promote it at all other than mentioning it on FB and Twitter. I honestly had no idea how to promote it. 

Comments about the impact of your free offering: 
Just some background
"Teasing Trent" was originally 2.99 and selling 300-400 a month before an unrelated book went free. After that it jumped to selling 2000-3000 copies a month.  I was very surprised that going free with a book in an unrelated series could have this effect.

I also did a free promotion through price-matching for "One More Day - Book 1" in this series for about a week. After it went back to paid, I kept it at 99c and it sold 25,000 copies over the rest of that month. (4k at Amazon, 9k at B&N and 12k at iBooks)

I've seen the power of perma-free for sure but even a short freebie run can help boost a book's earning potential.

My other pen name books

Okay - I also write under another pen name for erotica and this was a more straightforward experiment. I had a prequel novella that went perma-free in December 2011. The related novel went from selling 400/month to selling 4,000/month immediately. The novel sold 70,000+ copies priced at $4.99 in all of 2012 directly related to the perma-free book. Amazon stopped price-matching the perma-free this year for some reason and the related book's sales have suffered drastically since then. It now sells about 1500/month. 

Technically, this is my most successful freebie run because the freebie has been downloaded about 800,000 times since December 2011. Which is just astounding to me since it's super short. Free works!!

CC MacKenzie

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 5

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $2.99

I have offered ___2__ number of books for free as a self-publisher. One is a contemporary romance and one is a paranormal. Both first books in a series.

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Reckless Nights In Rome - over 150,000.

The free book was made free in December 2012 via price-matching distribution with  iTunes/Kobo/Smashwords/All Romance Ebooks. I distribute the book free to B&N via Smashwords.

It's a permanently free book.

The book is free at the following retail outfits: iTunes/Barnes & Noble/Kobo/Smashwords/All Romance Ebooks.

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had over _45,000_____ of  two subsequent book in the series. Readers buy both at once.

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Ebooklister, Kindle free reads & Apps, Ebookbooster.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: There's no doubt offering the free read has made my books visible to readers. This week Reckless hit #7 in contemporary and #34 in the top 100 free reads with Ebookbooster. Since I have book 5 about to launch. I'm using Bookbub on the 10th of May for Reckless, so it will be interesting to see how it does.

Jean Brashear

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 8 (plus 3 boxed sets made of some of these)

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $3.99 Boxed sets are higher: 5.99 for 2-book, 6.99 for 3-book, 9.99 for 5-book.

I have offered 1book for free as a self-publisher. A contemporary western romance, first book in a series

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Texas Secrets - 72,000.

The free book was made free on March 30 at Amazon via price-matching distribution with iTunes/Kobo/Smashwords. I distributed the book free to B&N via Smashwords and took it down from Pubit.

It may become a permanently free book--so far I like what I see, but these are early days.

The book is free at the following retail outfits: iTunes/Barnes & Noble/Kobo/Smashwords/Amazon

As a result of the free offering, in the first two weeks after going free, I had over 5800 paid sales of two subsequent books in a trilogy, without counting sales on two boxed sets that include this book and the subsequent books, given that those are harder to calculate because of a BookBub ad on another related book happening during this period.  Since this book has been a 99 cent loss leader for me for 18 months already, I was surprised (and pleased) that going free with this book still had a noticeable impact on sales.

Promotional efforts for my free book included: only Twitter and Facebook (I had a BookBub ad for another book as referenced above at the same time, so some of these results might be impacted by that, but the BookBub book was not part of this trilogy, so I'm thinking not that much.)

Comments about the impact of your free offering: This was my first try at a free book--this book has always sold well for me as a 99 cent loss leader over the last 15 months and pushed sales of the two succeeding titles plus a couple of boxed sets. Sales had slipped some, though, and friends have really urged me to try free--and now I'm a believer! My results don't cover but two weeks, and I know sales will slow again, but I'm happy! Took for-freaking-ever for Amazon to price-match, but wow, Apple took off fast and helped make the case for me. My sales at Apple had always been a pittance until this, but this book has led the charts both there and at Amazon, even cracking the overall romance top 10 free lists.

Amy Gamet
How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013:2
Primary genre: Romantic suspense
Most of my self-published books are priced at: $2.99
I have offered _____ number of books for free as a self-publisher: 1
The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Meant for Her
And the number of free downloads was: ______22,532______ over _______5_____consecutive days
The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Select
The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon only
As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had ___258____ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific* - the book's in the same series, but it's a Christmas novella, so not quite the same
Promotional efforts for my free book included: Notified all major freebie sites.  The listing was picked up by eReader News Today, which had a big effect on my downloads.
Comments about the impact of your free offering: The free run dramatically improved visibility for my book on Amazon.  Before that I was pretty invisible.  Right now, I don't plan on using the freebie as a promotional tool until I finish writing this series; at that point I may make book one perms-free through Smashwords (if that's still an option).  Without a lot of other books for readers to buy, I feel like I'm just giving something away for nothing.

Sarra Cannon

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 6

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $2.99

I have offered __1___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Beautiful Demons

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Free through price-matching. I placed it at Smashwords, Apple and B&N free, then Amazon followed.

The book was free for how many consecutive days: Has been free since April 2012 and is still free, so more than 365 days.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, B&N, and All Romance Ebooks.

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific* This is so difficult to quantify since my book has been perma-free for over a year. At the time my book went free, I had five books published and had sold 64,666 copies. To date, I have now sold just about 126,000 total and have published one new book.

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Blog posts, FB mentions, Twitter, a few mentions on Pixel of Ink on two separate occasions, and an ad at Free Booksy.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: I feel that being able to offer the first book in my series for free has been extremely beneficial in pulling in new readers. People can try my series and see if they like my writing style and where the story is going before they make any kind of commitment financially. I see that as a huge promotional tool. My book became free just when sales were beginning to lag. The free book was like a shot in the arm, pushing my series back up to the YA bestseller lists. Even a year later, my sales are consistent, and I attribute this to having the first book in the series free.

Suzanna Medeiros

Primary genre: Historical Romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 2

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $3.99

I have offered __1__ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Dancing with the Duke

And the number of free downloads was: ____187,500________ over _____102_______ consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): This book was made free via Amazon price-matching to Smashwords/Kobo.

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords (and several smaller venues as distributed by Smashwords, but I have yet to receive sales figures for those venues.)

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had __23,303____ of *the next book in the series, Loving the Marquess. This is currently my only other self-published release.*

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Tweets, Facebook posts, blog hops.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: Dancing with the Duke did sell 15,858 copies (it was a 0.99c novella) in the one month it was available for sale before the price was lowered to free. That is a respectable amount of sales, but I feel that the increased visibility from having that title available for free - and widely downloaded - is responsible for the success of the full-priced sequel.

Anonymous

Primary genre: Paranormal (technically, time travel) romance

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 8 (they are all reissued backlist)

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $2.99-3.99

I have offered __4___ number of books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: ANOTHER DAWN

And the number of free downloads was: _61,234__ over _3__ consecutive days

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed):  KDP Select

The book was free at the following retail outfits: Amazon

Promotional efforts for my free book included: BookBub ad, RT e-newsletter ad, Twitter, BookDish, Facebook.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: 
I saw an increase in sales on all titles, and linger sales for this one for some weeks following the free offering. The biggest benefit I think is in the number of reviews I collected, which assists in obtaining advertising for future titles at sites like BookBub, etc.

Darcy Burke

Primary genre: Historical

How many self-published books as of April 15, 2013: 4

Most of my self-published books are priced at: $3.99

I have offered __2___ books for free as a self-publisher

The title of the free book with the most downloads was: Her Wicked Ways

And the number of free downloads was: 139,386 over ~60 consecutive days (second offering netted 74,601 over 90 days)

The free book was made free via Amazon's KDP Select OR via price-matching/Smashwords distribution (be specific for each retailer at which the free offering was listed): Price matching with iTunes (note: Amazon took immediate notice when the book ranked in the top 5 free historical romance downloads at iTunes, but sort of ignored the "report a lower price" referrals)

The book was free at the following retail outfits: iTunes, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, ARe 

As a result of the free offering of (same book listed above as most successful free offering), I had _______ of *subsequent book in the series, or all my books--be specific*: Sold 3325 of all titles (two) during first free offering (60 days), Sold over 6000 of all titles (three) during second offering (90 days).

Promotional efforts for my free book included: Blog tour during first offering, Book Bub ad with second offering. Some tweeting and Facebooking.

Comments about the impact of your free offering: My two best months self publishing (the past 12 months) are a direct result of my first book being free. I also received more Facebook likes, more Twitter follows, and doubled the size of my newsletter (I provide a link to my newsletter at the back of all of my books). Free books absolutely work for me. When I took my first book off free the first time, my sales took a nosedive within 30 days. Of note is that I also offered my novella free. It did not achieve the same success as the first book in the series. First book free promos are a total win in my experience.

Tell us how free offerings have worked for you! Have you been thinking about offering a free book? If so, did these results convince you to give it a try or confirm that it's not for you?