Hook, Line, and Sinker: Does ‘free’ bring in readers?

If you’ve read any of this blog, you know that I have a few books already self-published, each the start of a respective book series.  You also know that I will be (cross your fingers) publishing the next books in said series later this month.  This presents a golden opportunity in my eyes: a chance to extend my readership.

You see, I have noticed an intelligent common practice in the self-publishing world to make your first books free or very cheap.  People love free stuff and are likely to pick up a free book on a lark.  If they read that free book and love it, they will have a lot of incentive to pick up the rest of the series, or at least that’s how the theory goes.

As a writer, there’s an understandable reluctance on my part to give away my hard work for nothing.  At the same time, I’m happy for anyone to read it, so why shouldn’t I be willing to take a financial hit to spread my works around?

For those of you who have done this dance before, have you have any good results with this kind of strategy?  If not, is there any sage advice to dole out?  If so, did you make your first books-in-a-series free forever or just for an initial period to drum up interest?  I’m curious to see what people’s experiences are.

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