A Surprising Way to Create a Fanbase

I just created a new feature for my e-zine:
Author Freebie of the Week.

I’m finding some great ebooks, podcasts, teleseminars and videos that people are giving away. These items are extremely useful for authors, so I’m enjoying passing them on.

There’s always somebody who is suspicious– in one email
I was asked, “You have got to be kidding nothing is free,
what is the bottom line?”

The truth is, because you’re competing with a simple
Google search, if you want to sell anything, you have
to give a decent amount of content for free. Otherwise,
it’s too hard to land a customer.

A lot of the time the free stuff that’s available on the net is behind a “squeeze page”
where a prospective customer is required to give up their
name and email address in order to get the material
they were promised.

But Ryan Deiss has created a new model where
he gives away the first part, which in his case is a
video, without asking for anything. Then, once you like
part one and you want parts 2,3,4, and 5, you’ll
need to *pay* by giving him your contact information,
which  allows him to pitch you
his products.

You can see an example of how he does this on his Million Dollar Napkin page.

Get a Literary Agent by building a fan base by giving away free information.

Get a literary agent by building a fanbase. Start by giving away free information.

Chris Anderson, whose last book, “The Long Tail”
created a phrase that became a standard part of
current business vernacular, has a new book out
called Free: The Future of a Radical Price. In it
he describes how several offline businesses are profiting
from giveaways. Think cell phones– they are being sold
or given away for free in order to get your subscription.
Publishers Weekly mentions  a surprising example in their review of Anderson’s book:

” . . . In China, piracy accounts for about 95% of music consumption—to the delight of
artists and labels, who profit off free publicity through concerts and merchandising.”

Anderson gave away more than 210,000 copies of his book over a 5 week period. You can still get the first fourteen pages.

And Amazon.com has a twenty minute podcast of Anderson.

Of course, in the book business, there are dozens of stories
about people giving away books for free in order
to develop a following. Seth Godin is the most famous
example in the US. He allowed several hundred thousand
people to download his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus
for free, and then offered the book in hardback for $30.
He sold 40,000 copies–and grossed a neat $1.2 million
dollars. (It may have been 30,000 copies at $40 apiece,
I never remember. But the total value was the same.)

Paulo Coelho, a much richer author, was disturbed that
his books weren’t selling in Russia. He used the same
model–and a million copies were downloaded. He ultimately
wound up selling more than 10 million books in Russia–
and we’re talking novels, not non-fiction.

So if you want to build a fanbase, in today’s market, you have to give things away for free. Everybody’s doing it. Why? Because it works.

And if you want access to my Author Freebie of the Week, plus  a list of top literary agents seeking authors, fill out the form to the right.

Hey, I practice what I preach.

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3 Responses to “A Surprising Way to Create a Fanbase”

  1. It’s nice to meet you, Mahesh. The universe was taking care of me today. My husband send me a copy of your e-mail. He did that because I just wrote an article on Free, too, and had just told him I plan to take one of my old books and turn it into a freebie–no strings. So that’s on my to-do list. But YOU made me move it up to my SOON to-do list.
    Very best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging at Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites pick http://www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com

    PS: You may love my blog as much as I like yours. I’ll be tweeting about it. (-:

  2. Sara Marie Hogg/Pairalee Pendleton says:

    This is for Mahesh:
    I enjoy your informative newsletters and this current one is very intriguing. Myself, I am not an agressive go-getter, put yourself out there kind of person. That is not my talent. Like a lot of artists, I am more passive and introverted, thinking it my job to create and not sell. Publishing has changed much since I first began submitting my work over 20 years ago. It is a sad state of affairs, that the creative people are having to hawk their wares instead of spending their time on writing more things. And instead of getting paid for their works they are often having to spend their own money to get their stuff read–by even a small audience. I have taken the ideas YOU have offered in your newsletters that are palatable to me and tried to put them to use to the best of my ability and I think it has made a difference and I thank you.
    Sara

  3. mike costa says:

    hello,
    I just wanted to stop by and say hi,
    I also did something similar with my books – kept on a website for free downloads. Only problem was that most people already know about it from the 1990s, and I can’t seem to convince them to buy it in paper form.

    -Mike

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