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Does Giving Away Free Books Build Your Audience?

Published by Rick Lite on October 1, 2017

When most authors think about giving away free books, they do so in hopes of increasing their following and reviews. This topic has become an interesting debate within the book community, especially for indie authors. While some authors have experienced success with this strategy, others have suggested it’s a waste of time.

Without long-term research performed on the benefits, authors should be open to trying any strategy that will help them promote and sell their book. Having said this, there is a time and place for using this strategy and hopefully, this article can help you decide if giving away free books is a strategy you want to try.


Here are 6 reasons why authors should be giving away free books

Galley Copies- During the writing process giving away galley copies to reviewers or editors is a common practice.

Book Reviews- one of the first steps in any book marketing campaign should be getting reviews. This process should start while the author is still writing the book and will continue well after the book is released. Using Kindle’s KDP program, for example, allows authors to give away free eBooks. A properly run giveaway will generate activity, give you a reason to communicate with your growing list of followers and should lead to book reviews.

Getting help with marketing- If authors hire anyone to help them with book marketing they should insist on having them read the book. It’s also a good idea for them to understand what the message is, why the book was written and the author’s goals.

Distributors or Resellers- when you are trying to create a relationship with resellers or distributors most will want a copy of the book along with a sell sheet and sales history. Your Genre- If you are releasing a book in a popular genre, you might want to try giving away free books to see if you can build a following, get reviews and spread the word. The more crowded a genre is, the more you will need to stand out.

Your family- getting the emotional support of your family is helpful and goes a long way. Authors should be proud of what they have created and share this journey with those that love them.


Here are 5 reasons why authors should not be giving away free books

• Most people love the idea of getting something for free. Giving away free books does not translate into expanding your audience and getting book reviews. In fact, a high percentage of free books don’t even get read.

• Giveaway programs usually cost money and take time and resources to set up properly. With any promotional opportunity, the author needs to generate a ‘buzz’ with their followers and target audience to get the proper response.

• While Goodreads and Amazon are popular platforms to promote books, both offer giveaways that require the author to mail a free, physical copy of the book. This can be costly and might not result in achieving the goals you set up.

• Giving away free books hurts the industry and dilutes the goal of being an author. Imagine if every author gave away their books for free.

• Having your book priced for free can lower the intrinsic value of the book. For example, if you have a self-help book that helps children control anger and manage stress, keeping the price of the book in line with other popular/strong selling titles makes this book seem more attractive than the one that is for free.

• When marketing a book, the author should be willing to try anything to help them achieve their goals. Giving away free books is just one of many marketing tools authors have at their disposal, however, taking full advantage of these tools is the key to a successful campaign.

If you decide to take advantage of a free giveaway, you should start with a low-cost one, experience what is involved with running a successful campaign and learn how it works. Talk to other authors, read about how to run a successful promotion and go for it! Rick Lite of Stress Free Book Marketing, stands at the forefront of the ever-changing book industry. He is a seasoned book marketing professional with over 13 years of experience in the industry. Rick’s expertise comes from tirelessly working on new and innovative ways to market his own books and CDs with his company and parent company, Stress Free Kids. Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation, and growth, Rick works closely with authors to create custom, robust book marketing programs. His easy-going manner provides “stress-free” support and comfort to authors going through the book marketing process for the first time. Rick is quick to share his knowledge and “insider tips” for a successful marketing campaign that will lead to increased exposure, awareness and most importantly, sales.


The Association of American Publishers StatShot program cites 29.7-percent growth over 2016 in downloaded audiobook revenue, despite overall flat performance in publisher revenue in 2017.

by Porter Anderson for Perspective Publishing May 10, 2018 Edition

Audiobook Revenue Has Nearly Tripled in Five Years

In its release on May 9 of 2017 data from the StatShot tracking program, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is reporting that overall revenue for American publishers was flat at US$14.7 billion in 2017—a rise of $57.5 million, or 0.4 percent, from 2016.

These numbers include sales for all tracked categories:

  • Trade, including fiction, non-fiction, and religious
  • PreK-12 instructional materials
  • Higher education course materials
  • Professional publishing, and university presses

Several categories that had declined in 2016 rebounded in 2017, including adult books, university press books, and professional books.

An increase of $96 million (1.3 percent) is being cited in trade consumer books, bringing that sector to $7.6 billion in 2017. That change is seen as being centered in adult books where there was a 3-percent uptick in revenue. The adult books category accounts, the AAP says, for more than 65 percent of revenue for trade books.

The figures represented in StatShot are described as representing “publishers’ net revenue for the US.” More than 1,5000 publishers reportedly submit their data directly to the AAP. In the summer, the AAP will produce its StatShot annual report, “which includes reporting from additional publishers and data about unit sales and channels,” as an enhanced look at the top lines today.

In terms of trends, the US publishers’ association cites three key observations, starting with a fifth year of audio growth:

  • In growth percentage, downloaded audio dominated with 29.7-percent growth compared to 2016. This is the fifth year of double-digit growth for this format, revenue nearly tripling to what it was in 2012
  • Ebook sales were seen to decline for a third year by 4.7 percent. That’s a much lower rate of decline than has been seen in past years—in 2015 and 2016, the AAP saw double-digit declines for ebooks. And one exception was the reportage from religious presses, which saw a revenue increase in ebooks.
  • Higher education publishers’ revenue is reported to have been flat in 2017 (an increase of only 0.2 percent. This did, however, follow a decline in the previous year.
  • Adult books showed an increase over 2016 of $148.1 million


2017 StatShot Chart: Association of American Publishers

The AAP’s Marisa Bluestone provides several interesting points of observation around educational, professional, and scholarly publishing:

  • The basically flat performance in educational course materials in 2017 (as opposed to previous downturns) was “primarily due to a reduction in returns,” which were seen to be running at a substantial 20.6 percent less than in 2016.
  • PreK-12 instructional materials declined by 3.6 percent in 2017, as compared to 2016. Revenue for PreK-6 books declined by 12.1 percent, while revenue for 6-12 books increased by 10.2 percent, with growth coming from adoption states.
  • After two years of declines, growth was seen in 2017 in both university presses (up 5.3 percent) and professional books (up 8.4 percent), and that includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books.


2017 StatShot Chart: Association of American Publishers

As always, the AAP clarifies that publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the association and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers. AAP also tracks revenue annually with its StatShot annual report, which includes reporting from additional publishers and data about unit sales and channels.


by Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief for Perspective Publishing May 2, 2018

The newly announced Prime Book Box for kids from Amazon was announced on Tuesday (May 1) with images of children’s books from Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and other publishers in age groups of up to 2 years old, 3 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years, and 9 to 12 years. It’s not only interesting to see those Big Five houses working in a subscription program from Amazon, but also to note that for all its digital emphasis in so many parts of its operation, this new program is towing the line of print for kids. The children’s sector, long the leading edge in many markets, has been the slowest to migrate to digital formats as parents and children have preferred to hang onto their print titles.

Subscribers to the new Amazon Prime program get new deliveries at frequencies of one, two, or three months, and each of those shipments contains two hardcover books or four board books at up to 35 percent off list price, according to promotional copy.

The program says it uses consumer reviews as well as its Amazon Book Editors to curate the titles. And Amazon Publishing—the traditional house, not the self-publishing platform—is no stranger to the children’s market, having an imprint of its own for kids, Two Lions, as well as Skyscape for teens and young adults.

Currently listed as being available by invitation only for Prime members in the United States, the program builds in quite a bit of discretion for parents, allowing them to stop and restart the subscription as needed, and to “make changes to this box” up to a certain point on each iteration, before it ships. A standard box offers four alternate titles.

Shipping fees are included in the program, and an FAQ about the program is https://www.amazon.com/b?node=17344731011


Texas Authors, Inc. is an organization designed to help Texas Authors learn how to better market and sell their books.

We work closely with our partners DEAR Texas, Inc., and Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., both nonprofits that have created additional programs and events for Authors.

Texas Authors is a subsidiary of Bourgeois Media & Consulting