Reasons your book isn't selling: Fear of free

Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last time I talked about getting too big for your britches.

Today's reason your book isn't selling: Fear of free.
Being an author doesn't mean you have to work for nothing, but if you want people to know who you are, you need to give away some free books.

Let me tell a little story.
Our little town in the middle of nowhere Texas got a new restaurant a few weeks ago. Now, this particular building has been at least three different restaurants since I moved here four years ago. It's a great location, but nothing ever really took off there.

So this new place was having it's opening day on a Monday. But on Sunday, they gave away free food. I'm not talking little sampler bites. They gave away free meals. To everyone who walked through the door.

We decided to go check them out. I can't tell you what the food is like because the line for the free food wrapped outside and around the building so far that we decided to skip it. If I had to guess, I'd say the people at the end of the line had to wait at least an hour to get their food.

I can't imagine what it cost that restaurant to hand out all those free burgers. But I do know that every time I drive by there, the parking lot is filled. I just went past yesterday and the drive through line was backed up almost to the street and there was only one free spot. That was at 5:00 on a Tuesday. Where others have tried and failed, this place looks like they might make it.

They knew something all good marketers know. It doesn't matter how good your product is if no one knows it exists.

Not only did they get a ton of people in the door, they got a ton of free promotion. Everyone I knew in town was talking about getting free food at this place. It was all anyone could talk about.

Now, we all know that free books don't draw folks they way they use to. But free can still be a powerful tool if you use it correctly. And that doesn't mean discounting your book to free and walking away. You have to do the leg work of getting the word out there and letting people know. You have to sell it so people know that book is there. And you need to make it sound so good that they can't wait to get their hands on it.

And while we're talking about free, you need to be giving free review copies to bloggers and reviewers. Lots of free copies. For my first book, I sent copies to over 50 bloggers. I gave free books to teachers, librarians and other influence readers. If someone could help me spread the word about my book, I gave them a copy.

I know this can cost some money, but it's worth it. Even with all those free copies, I have a book that over a year after its release still sells decent numbers and consistently ranks well on Amazon. I promise that handing out hundred free copies of your book, there will still be people out there willing to buy it.

So stop being afraid of free and start using it to sell more books.