Ten reasons to give your romance novel away for free

helena fairfax, story cartel, the silk romanceA while ago I  I conducted an experiment .  I gave away my novel The Antique Love for free, for a limited period, through a website called Story Cartel.  Anyone who downloaded the novel was encouraged to leave a review, and if they did, they were entered into a draw for a prize – one of three $10 Amazon vouchers.

This month I’m giving away my contemporary romance The Silk Romance on the same website.   ( Please note the novel will only be available free until 4th Feb 2014 – so please download now if you’d like a copy!)

So why am I giving my romance novel away for free again?  Well, here are ten reasons:

1.  My first experiment with Story Cartel was a success.  I got 120 downloads, which isn’t a massive amount to some, but it’s 120 new to me readers, and any exposure is good for a new author.

2.  Out of those 120 downloads, I gained twenty five more reviews on Amazon.  (The more reviews you have on Amazon, the more your novel will be favoured by their algorithms.)

3.  Other readers have told me they’ve received emails from Amazon with The Antique Love as a suggested read.  I feel sure Amazon are promoting the novel because of the extra reviews.

4.  Of course I have no control over what readers write about the novel, but I’m thrilled to say that reviews for The Antique Love were overwhelmingly positive.  In fact one reviewer called it “the best romance I’ve read in a long while“, which – apart from making me dance with joy! – made me feel more confident about offering The Silk Romance for free this year.

5.  By offering my novels free to reviewers, I get to find out what readers think.  Readers’ comments are really important to me – more so than those of agents or publishers – and reviews are an excellent way to find out what people are saying.

6.  Reviews influence other readers.  If people see that your book has a lot of reviews – good or bad – they are more likely to buy it to find out what all the fuss is about.

7.  Ditto with agents and publishers.  I have another novel nearing completion, and will be looking for a publisher.  If agents/publishers see that my previous novels have a lot of reviews, and that I have a readership, they are more likely to look at my manuscript.

8.  Reviews have influenced my present writing.  I have read more than one comment on my present novels that suggests the reader liked them so much they wanted them to be longer. (eg “I wanted more!” and “I didn’t want it to end.”)  So now I’ve had a go at writing a longer romance (be warned!)helena fairfax, story cartel, the silk romance

9.  By giving my novel away on Story Cartel, a flurry of reviews came in at once.  From a personal point of view, this was heartening and, again, increased my confidence.

10.  The Silk Romance will be up for a new writers’ award later in 2014.  Whether it wins or not, the award will mean publicity, and more reviews will give the novel more credibility.

So, that’s why I’m offering The Silk Romance for free.  As I mentioned, it’s for a limited period only, so if you’d like a free copy, please download now to avoid disappointment :)

Do you read reviews, and do they influence you to buy a book?  Would you try an unkown author based on other readers’ reviews?  

If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you! 

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11 thoughts on “Ten reasons to give your romance novel away for free

  1. Good luck with the other book, Helena – I already had it on my kindle but still to get round to reading it in the pile! I experimented too by giving my Victorian novella away free before Christmas (it was published the year before) and had a huge response but I organised it through Amazon and hadn’t asked for reviews. So, although it was a success in pushing the book up and gaining more sales, it didn’t add to reviews. Mind you, it still gets recommended by Amazon so perhaps the number of reviews isn’t the most important thing.

    • Hi Ros, I downloaded Mischief at Mulberry Manor and am looking forward to reading it. I will leave a review for you. I’d like to try giving away for free on Amazon. I suppose everything is experimenting,and a lot of it is luck. I heard on the radio that a crime series got picked up and filmed for televison because the producer found one of the books in a second-hand shop and liked it! So, I just keep trying – although, to be honest, like most of us I’d sooner be writing than marketing!

  2. I loved The Antique Love and so happy your Story Cartel experiment worked! Thanks for sharing the result. That spurs me on to try it for my latest mystery/romance. I just posted my TAL review to amazon. Thanks for this post to nudge me into getting that done! I enjoy your romances, but I don’t know if you need to add more when people say they want more. Isn’t there something about entertainers who want to leave their audience wanting more?? Best wishes on your next WIP!

    • Hi JQ, thanks for posting a review – it’s much appreciated! I liked your comment about leaving the audience wanting more. I did think about that a lot when I wrote a longer novel. As you know, my first two were only short contemporary romances, so from a personal point of view I’ve enjoyed developing secondary characters and giving them more depth in my present WIP. Whether readers will enjoy the longer story as well – I’ll just have to hope so – or go back and cut out a lot of words! :(
      Thanks for your great comment!

  3. Hi Helena,
    I read reviews only if its an author I’ve never heard of or if I read a book I didn’t like (I want to see if others felt the same way). If it’s an author that I love or a series that I’m addicted to I never pay attention to them. However, Amazon recommendations are my #1 source for finding authors I’ve never read before. I’ve found quite a few of my favorite authors that way. When I get the recommendation I usually read over the book blurb and a few of the reviews but what makes me purchase the book is an intriguing book blurb and a great book cover.
    I’ve never heard of Story Cartel. Thanks for sharing your experience with them.

    • Hi Darla, that’s very interesting what you say about finding new authors. I don’t often read the Amazon recommendations. I’ll start to pay more attention to them. I’m in a few Goodreads groups, and follow some reviewers on FB, and have found some great authors that way.
      You’re right about the blurb. It’s the most important marketing tool for the book. I’m interested to see how The SIlk Romance does on Story Cartel, as I’ve struggled a lot writing the blurb, and am not sure it’s enticing readers. Another reason to try this experiment!
      Thanks very much for coming by and sharing your views. I’m sure other authors following this blog will be interested to read your comment.

  4. My local writing chapter, NTRWA has a speaker tomorrow talking about Goodreads. I sure hope she helps me. I find it incredibly difficult to get around in. :(
    Love this info, Helena. I’ve failed to give away enough of Vermont Escape. For blogs I’ve given “thingies” that seemed to go with the book, but I’d have done better to do the real thing. :) Live and learn. I think I can do a contest of encouraging people to sign up for the newsletter by offering a couple of free copies. Need to pick up interest before second book comes out. Thanks for sharing you info about this site. I’d not heard of it.

    • Hi Marsha, I’d be interested to know what your writing chapter has to say. I can’t say I’m an expert on Goodreads. I’ve used the site for a year now, and am slowly getting the hang of it, but more as a lurker than an active participant.
      Thanks for your comment – and have a good weekend!

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