Every now and then I undergo an existentialist crisis and question everything I've done up to that point. I'm a cat sitting before an open doorway, unable to determine whether I should go in...stay out...go in...
Not so long ago, I took a hard look at the way my Loki's Wolves series is branded. I brooded on the subject for a few months before determining what I needed and commissioning new covers.Another thing I've looked at are my blurbs, categories, key words, reviews, and, of course, pricing.
FREE is a hot button topic among authors and publishers nowadays. Thanks to a deluge of free books, including the success of KDP Select, readers seem to have grown accustomed to books that are free or near free. Barriers to publishing are flat so there are many titles that aren't properly edited. Downward pressure on prices is making it harder and harder to make a living. Authors make less money, as do publishers, making it more likely some authors and publishers will be forced out of the market.
So FREE? Ultimate evil or useful marketing tool?
Honestly, I have no idea. And it's not really a question I can answer. I'm not outright opposed to free in all instances but I believe there are too many authors willing to give away their work. I've never engaged in a KDP Select free day. But I have two permafree titles. One is a 2,500 word short erotic piece called Cuffed. The other is a 13,000 word short story that serves as the prequel to Hunger Moon and my Loki's wolves series.
For a while, I've debated what to do with The Child Thief. I get lots of downloads and it has many positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It's on 3 Amazon Best Seller lists. (Yeah, everyone says that but it's still an accomplishment worth mentioning.)
Common wisdom is that making a short story free is a great way to push a series. Yet, I've largely felt like I failed at the implementation. Part of the reason is attributable to the fact that the third book in my series hasn't released yet. (Yes, I'm impatient). However, I think part of the problem is the novella's packaging.
During my rebranding, I decided to change the title to something more appropriate to Norse fantasy fiction, have my cover artist, Farah Evers, redo the cover. Amazon's publishing platform will accommodate the cover and title change without a loss of market position or reviews.
Sometime soon, you'll see The Child Thief undergoing a facelift. The new cover and title will look like this:
I also intend to expand the story from 13K to 25K to provide the reader with a higher quality experience. My readers on Amazon will be able to update their story files and new readers will still be able to obtain the novella for free. (At least in those markets where Amazon performs price matching.)
Free? Not free? For the time being, I'm sticking with free for this particular story and purpose. Hopefully, I've learned enough about promotion and publishing in the last couple years to reinvent my story so I'll be doing it right. Only time well tell.