I saw these Tweets about free books by J.E. Masterman and I responded to them on Twitter. Link is below, if you are interested in how others responded. But I’ve been thinking about this for a while, so it must be time to write a blog post about it.
To #authors and #writers out there;I keep seeing tweets on my feed of authors selling their books for 99c; doesn’t it bother you to sell something you’ve worked on for months, maybe even years for less than a dollar? I get the “lower price=lager client base” thing, but really?1/2
I don’t give my ebooks away. I don’t sell them for 99¢, either. Most are priced between $2-5. I think that’s a reasonable price for a full-length novel. Not Quite Heaven is the only one currently priced at 99¢. Here’s the Amazon link should you be interested.
A LOT of authors give away books for free. Often the first book in a series to get readers interested in the series. Sometimes, the offer is temporary. Sometimes it’s permanent. I’ve been told to give away a free book as a way of interesting readers in my work, but I’ve resisted for the most part.
I work too hard writing books.
No one else is expected to work for free.
Why should writers? When I do signings, readers pay $10 for a copy of one of my books. Often, people who’ve never read one of my books before. Granted there are way fewer people at booksignings than are perusing Amazon’s offerings at any given time. But I’d still rather have that one reader willing to take a chance on me and who plunked down cash to figure out if she likes my work or not. If she does, I certainly hope she buys more of my books. If she doesn’t, I admire her for taking the risk.
Why give away ebooks in the first place? Does it really work to build a readership when there are so many free books available? Why should they read yours over another one? Will they ever read your books? They’ve got nothing invested in it. At least, if they pay $3-5 for it, they might take a look at it rather soon in case it isn’t for them, and they need to return it to Amazon within seven days.
And I hope, once they took a look and decide NOT to return it, they’d be hooked enough to read it fairly soon. Maybe even leave a review. Well, a writer can always hope.
It’s not about the money. It can’t be. Think of all the things the average consumer spends $5 on ON A REGULAR BASIS without batting an eye at the cost. A venti white chocolate mocha at Starbucks. A meal box at Taco Bell. A car wash. A tip to a valet or restaurant server. (Think of paying for a quality ebook as tipping the author.)
And another thing: Readers can preview any book on Amazon. They can read quite a big chunk of the beginning of the book before they decide to buy. If it’s free, they may not even do this much. Why take the time? Download it and check it out later. Or not. It gets lumped in with a hundred other free books already waiting to be read.
I don’t know who started this free book trend. Authors with backlists most likely. They had a lot of product to push, especially if they were going indie, and a free book to get things going was likely a good idea at the time. Until everyone started doing it.
Everyone but me, anyway.
It’s one thing for a publisher to undervalue an author, but it seems to me, it’s quite another for the author to undervalue his/herself and his/her work.
Ask anyone who’s tried to write a book. It is not an easy thing. Well, not an easy thing if you want to write a good book. That’s what I try to do.
The above post is how I felt earlier today before I did a little research on the subject of free ebooks. Turns out there are some reasons why an author or publisher might want to offer this option, at least temporarily. And I can’t say I won’t experiment with it in the future. Sign up for my newsletter if you want to find out when.
Are you a reader who downloads free ebooks? Do you read them in a timely manner?
Are you an author who offers free ebooks? Please share your thoughts and experience.