I think 1,000 is a hearty enough number to start drawing some initial conclusions about this whole experiment that has been A Guide to Gender. I’m pulling these numbers from the only data I have access to: sales via Amazon (the full-price paperback), Gumroad (pay-what-you-want Ebook), and PayWithATweet (free, but you have to spread the word).
My main conclusion: this experiment has been a success! More on that in a bit, but let’s talk about the numbers first.
Above you can see the percentage of sales (I’ll be using this word loosely, as most of the “sales” are really “frees”) broken down by platform. In a commanding lead is Gumroad, and I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve been super impressed with Gumroad — the simplicity, functionality, and user experience are all top notch — and am happy that’s the leading horse. PayWithATweet has proven to be popular, but it’s rather buggy, and I’m not sure how much it’s actually contributing to the reach of the book (I might revisit this in a future post). And in dead last (where I was hoping it would be) is the full-price Amazon paperback.
Let’s look a bit closer at the breakdown of those three platforms, and the types of sales that have come from each.
If you’re having trouble understanding that chart, about 78% of all books have been had for free. Of the had-for-dollars 28%, about a third are via Gumroad (where people elected to donate, instead of taking the book for free) and the rest are Amazon. Of the freebies, it’s about a 50-50 split between Gumroad and PayWithATweet.
It was imperative that I was able to offer a free version of this book when I published it, which led to a lot of hoops and hurdles and headaches, but seeing these numbers makes me smile (about 78 times). The vast majority of people who have read the book so far likely wouldn’t have picked it up if there was a price barrier in the way.
Geographically, the book has really gotten around. I find these stats to be fun to check in on, so I share. Because sharing is caring.
And, of course, it’s not just in the U.S. that people care about gender. People in other countries have genders, too (they do — just google “do people in other countries have genders?” if you don’t believe me).
Hungary! That one was a real surprise to me. Köszönöm, Hungarian Friends!
So, would I recommend you give your book away for free?
If you stand behind the message of your book, and your goal is to get it into people’s eyeballs, then absolutely.
I was told again and again that people don’t respect free books, and that you should at least price it at $__ (some people said $0.99, others said >$2, others said more) or nobody will want it. If you give it away for free, you’re telling people it’s not worth anything. Well, it seems that, at least so far, that’s not the case. Not only are people scooping it up, but they are writing me great emails thanking me for putting it out there. They’ve taken the time to read it, and the time to give me a virtual hug as thanks — that’s worth a lot to me.
If you’re trying to make all the dollars, well, I’m not sure.
The argument could be made that the people who are getting my book for free would have never bought it, and if they read it and like it they might tell their friends, who may end up buying a copy for dollars, which will end up making me more money than I would have made if I just sold it. Now, you’re likely picking up on all the conditionals that need to be satisfied for that argument to be proven true (and there are plenty). Unfortunately, I’ll never know, because I don’t have a control for this experiment.
What I will recommend whole-heartedly is Gumroad as a platform to allow the future readers of your book to decide if they want to get it for free or for dollars. It’s the best of both worlds — a real life have your cake and eat it too situation — and I can’t say enough warm and fuzzy things about it.
Now I’m gonna go eat some cake.
Yours in experimentation (you know what I mean),