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Book News: Free or Not to Free? That is the question!

For those of you who have hung around here a while, you probably know that I have made the first book of each of my two book series free, at least with every outlet I can do so.  Now, the obvious intent of this was to stick my foot in the door, to provide a free sample to entice readers and lure them in to read the rest of each series.  It certainly does seem to have spread interest a fair bit and I’m seeing a slow trickle from the free books to the pay books.

Also, you probably know I am very close to wrapping these initial trilogies (a term I am loathe to use because I fully intend to revisit both of these fictional worlds down the road).  What I wonder is if I should continue to keep those first books free?  At least after perhaps a month or so of the series completion.

Putting a window on the free books might create a rush of activity, a sense of urgency to get a toe in the door, pushed on by the knowledge that, YES, this series IS complete.  At the same time, would the good will generated by that openly free book be crushed by suddenly cutting off the tap?  I admit that I don’t have the marketing skills to really gauge the risk factor here.

So, any of you writers, editors, publishers, literary folk, do you have any insights on this?  Is it better to keep that gateway open for impulse readers to grab a free book and get hooked?  Or decide that it’s time to cut off the free lunch line?