Why Free Ebooks Don’t Sell.

Why does Free not sell?

That’s a question I have seen a few times around the author blogs. Having recently, okay, not too recently signed up for BookBub.com I have been getting a lot of Free Ebooks. But then again I’ve passed on a lot as well—a whole lot. I subscribe to a broad range of genres, from kids to adults, from romance to even horror.

Why do I pass on getting a Free book?

  • First thing is the cover just doesn’t work for me. Yep, the visual hits me first.
  • But, I can move past that if the title works. But then the Title doesn’t work.
  • Then the blurb doesn’t work.
  • Then there is the pen name of the author. The name chosen doesn’t work because it’s an obvious cheese attempt to grab attention. It grabs attention but for the wrong reasons.

I think we all want to believe we can do it all ourselves and for free. Perhaps you are a great book cover artist, creative book blurb writer, and you already have a great name for an author. But for the rest of us I think we need to come to terms that if we want to stand out from the crowd and catch an eye we need to be willing to either put in the effort to really learn how to do everything professionally, which does mean some money and a lot of time, thus meaning a longer time to get that book out there, or we pay professionals to do things for us.

Really, it all depends on what our idea of success is.

  • Do we want to be a million-seller?
  • Do we want to sell enough to do okay living?
  • Do we want to simply have people read and enjoy our work?
  • Do we want the sense of accomplishment that we wrote a book?

If you want to test out what you’ve done, you could put a selection of book covers on your site, without author names and titles, and see which ones work. Use books already out there and mix yours in. That doesn’t mean to actually use their book cover as your own if people like it better. Then do book titles. Then go for book blurbs. Test out what people like. Look at Amazon and see what those top selling people, that aren’t perhaps big names, doing. Big names can almost put out a blank cover with their name on it and people will buy it knowing what to expect inside. Test, test, test.

Much Respect


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Author: Ronovan

Ronovan Hester is an author/poet/blogger, with a debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. "5.0 out of 5 stars: Now, I want to warn you… this is not your typical pirate tale! It’s BETTER!" "5.0 out of 5 stars: Totally unpredictable and a real gem of a discovery - Highly Recommended" "5.0 out of 5 stars: An action packed journey to piracy and revenge – all in the name of the crown, queen and county – set in 1705." He shares his life of problems, triumphs, and writing through his blog RonovanWrites.com. His love of writing, authors and community through his online world has led to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews and interviews known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

18 thoughts on “Why Free Ebooks Don’t Sell.”

  1. I have a nook with a kindle app, so I pretty much pick up anything free unless it’s in a genre I don’t read. I figure some day I’ll win the lottery and get around to reading them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have only a small portion of my titles that I have/plan to make available for free (in which case they are to be on Smashwords instead of Amazon). It happens when I want them to be free and they all are nonfiction (so far there was the Feminist Blogger one I edited with multiple authors on which we all agreed it should be free and next year I hope to have another free eBook coming from a blogging project).

    Other than these, I prefer making them available at lowest price of 99c if they are really short reads, or more if longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have gotten some great books for free, and paid a high price for some that were horrible. The reader is ultimately the one to decide if a book is worthy of his/her time whether free or not. Read a chapter, read reviews, ask friends that have read the book. No matter what the price, or how well known the author is, some books will disappoint, others will be a surprise. A lot of free books are duds, but there are a lot of sleepers waiting to be discovered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. My purpose with the article is that grab the attention part to get the person to read that first chapter. There is no telling how many classics have fallen through the cracks because of not getting noticed. I have some great free books. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an interesting idea, Ronovan. I spent my life doing research and analyzing data, to this suggestion certainly appeals. Now to figure out how to do it…


  5. If a free book grabbed me,I downloaded it, but that was some time ago. I couldn’t keep up with reading them and decided enough was enough because I also have 3,000 paper books, the majority of which await my attention. I see no point downloading books just because they are free if I can’t read them right away.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In the past I would download free books because they seemed to help authors get higher in the ratings, but with the changes that is not the case any longer (you really need to get many downloads). I have more books than I’ll have time to read but if they sound interesting I still download them. I hope I’ll get around to reading them. And I’ve read very good free books for sure.
    A very interesting topic, Ronovan. I’ll experiment for sure.


  7. I don’t take free stuff ever. If it comes in my mailbox and it is free, I keep it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I will use it.
    A free e-book? No thanks! I know I won’t read it. I spend enough time in front of a computer screen and like reading my books in bed. I haven’t invested in a E-reader yet.
    I figure they are giving it away cuz they can’t sell it.
    Do you know a/b my debut novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador”? A young American woman goes to war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
    My husband made a video for my novel. He wrote the song too:


  8. I use free books as a tool. With a seven book series, I find giving away one of them on BookBub is a way to interest new readers, and it has worked for me. Can’t say a standalone book would be a useful way to get new readers, but for a series? Why not? The folks at Amazon know how to sell books, so I will follow their lead.
    I normally download free books that catch my interest, as well, but have had some pleasant surprises.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Keep putting yours free!!!!!! I keep getting them every time I see them. 🙂 They are the one GUARANTEE book series I do download every time.
      And shhhhh…there are more articles on this topic coming. 🙂 My purpose of this one was people need to put some effort into their product to get the attention of today’s reader who has millions of books to choose from.


  9. If it’s free or not, it’s still got to interest you enough to bother with. If not, everyone would have Kindles filled with free books and no one would be making any money at all.

    Let’s face it: After the allure of a Kindle and the “free” book wears off, I don’t know of anyone who just downloads free books for the sake of being free. Much like paid books, not all are great, not all are bad. Most are mediocre, just like “reg’lar” books.

    For authors, free books are just marketing tools; nothing more, nothing less.

    Oh, and a proper e-reader and a computer screen are two entirely different beasts. Denigrating the medium and trying to hawk a book in selfsame medium in the same post is what they call, at least in my neck of the woods, hypocritical.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I personally miss the days when I was young and my mother and I would take our biweekly trip to the mall and I would head to the Walden Books store. Nothing better.


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