Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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First book FREE – It works!

It’s a rainy morning in Georgia, which calls for extra coffee. Monday’s are hard, but especially when it starts out rainy and dreary. But, life goes on, so let’s get this day going.

Free books make some authors shudder, but making the first book in a series free can give you that boost that you need. Some authors opt not to offer the first book in a series for free and that’s alright too. Just having a series that readers can fall in love with is good too.

Why is it good to offer the first book for free? I tried this with the first book in the Five Oaks Ranch Series. At first I was skeptical, but then I realized that it was the best decision for this series. The fact is that the rest of the series sells great following the free downloads of Ridge, the first book that is free. And this series has become my best selling series yet.

Here’s the catch. Don’t you just hate a catch. If you offer a book for free, make sure that it is edited well. Why? Because a free book that has a tantalizing cover and blurb will fly off the shelves. People love something for free. And if the book is well written and firmly edited, it will gain you a fan for the rest of the series. Readers love a good series that can draw them into a world created in the series. If they love it, then they’ll buy the rest of the series.

Here’s a look at Ridge. Fall in love with the Cauthen family in this sweet series that follows the lives of the five siblings and their ranch.

Ridge was the first one up the next morning. He needed to check the cattle in the far pasture and make sure the newborns were doing well. When he walked into his office in the stable with his coffee he was surprised to see Mallory walking up from the stalls.

“Good morning.” She said as she stepped into his office. “I didn’t expect to see anyone this early.”

“What are you doing here so early?” He sat down and took a long drink of his hot coffee.

“I’ve got an early meeting with a ranch across the county and needed to check on Chase’s horse. He thought he might have something wrong with his back leg, but it was just a little strain. I’ve iced it up and left Chase a message on what he needs to do when he gets to the barn.”

“That man rides his horses too hard. I’ve always told him to be easier on them.” His younger brother was the wilder one, thinking about nothing but the rodeo.

Mallory laughed, causing his heart to skip a beat. “Chase has his head set on the rodeo. I’ve tried to convince him it’s not a good idea, but he doesn’t listen to me.” Rolling her eyes as she spoke.

Suddenly Ridge was jealous of his brother, but why? Was it because Mallory was having conversations with him? Did they have something together? Ridge’s heart hurt at the thought. He used all his strength to push it out of his head.

“Well, Chase does have a stubborn streak.” He commented as he looked down at his desk.

“Yes, he does. But I hear your stubborn streak is worse.” She said in a quiet voice.

His head snapped up at her comment, causing him to become defensive. “I take it Maggie has been talking more than need be.” He’d have a conversation with his meddlesome little sister.

“I didn’t mean to make you mad, it was just an observation.” Struggling with her better judgment, she continued. “You seem really high strung and tense. Maybe you need to have some fun, get out and live a little.”

Ridge leaned back in his chair as he studied the woman standing in front of his desk. “And what do you suggest I do for fun?” The look he sent her way made her step back a bit.

This man made her squirm with something she’d never felt before and she couldn’t quite put a hand on it. Was it anger, envy, or interest? “I don’t know what you like to do.” She shrugged as she backed up to the doorway. “There’s a dance in a couple of weeks. You could always find a date and go let off some steam on the dance floor.”

“Oh I can think of several things to let off steam, but going to a crowded dance doesn’t come to mind.” He watched the blush creep up her neck and cover her beautiful face.

Mallory stammered with her reaction to his comment. “I was just making a suggestion.”

“Well, thanks for the evident concern, but I’m handling my ‘stress’ just fine.” He stood and walked over to where she was rooted to the floor. “Are you offering to help me release my stress?”

She gasped and looked up into his gorgeous eyes, mesmerized by his nearness. Clearing her throat she found her voice. “No, not at all, just commenting on the obvious.”

Ridge grinned devilishly, and walked past her, headed toward his horse. “Have a good morning, Mallory.” The parting words spoken over his shoulder in humor, as he gave himself a silent high five, realizing he still had it.

Mallory propped on the door frame to gain her senses. That man had the ability to make her speechless and that was a hard thing to do. She straightened and headed for her truck. Her heart was pounding like a thunderstorm in her chest as she pulled herself up into the truck. What a start to the day?

Ridge stepped into his horse’s stall with a grin. He’d made her stammer and blush. Maybe now she’d get the picture. He was unapproachable and happy to be alone for the time being. Women weren’t off the table for him, but at the moment it wasn’t advisable.

I hope you liked this small look into Ridge, the first book of the Five Oaks Ranch Series. It’s FREE on Amazon, so fall in love with this series by clicking this link. And think about making one of your books free to kickstart sales.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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The Free Book Debate…

Good morning! Hope all is well with you on this beautiful morning. Georgia is having a beautiful day today, but the weather will be here for Thursday and Friday, so we need to enjoy today and tomorrow!

As for today’s topic, it’s permafree books. There’s much controversy about this strategy. Most authors split the fence on this topic. I’ve played with it periodically through the years, but my newest try at it has been a success. Why do I say that, you might ask? Well, here’s why…

Do you see the number just above this sentence? That’s where Ridge is at the moment. Since I put it on permafree several weeks ago, it has stayed in the top 100 in this category and notice it’s not the free category. You’re probably saying, ‘but it’s free so you’re making nothing on all those downloads’, well that’s true, but here’s why it’s a good thing.

The week that Ridge went free, there wasn’t a lot of change in sales. But the next week and all the ones to follow showed a huge difference in my sales. suddenly it was like I could follow the readers journey. Each book in this series started selling in order of the series, then my other books started in the same way. It’s like the readers are buying the Five Oaks Series, then working their way through each of my series. Kind of like watching dominoes fall in a row. I’ve also started selling my older published books, which a couple of them had to be dusted off from sitting on Amazon so long 😉

SO, I’d say my trial period worked. Ridge will stay free. My suggestion is to wait until you have a couple of books in your series out before you go free with the first one. That way the reader has a direction to go in. Then sit back and watch it do the work for you. It’s like free advertising!

Have you tried this? How did it work for you?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…