I had the great pleasure to read J.J. Marsh’s recent blog post this morning – I do not want your new free book. I urge all writers and readers alike to pop over to J.J’s blog and check out her thoughts on giving or getting books for free.
As I commented, on the post, I made my self-publishing debut in 2013 and soon learned – sometimes the hard way – that most of what I had read to prepare me to be a successful, self-published author was just plain false or woefully out dated. Offering one’s books up for free was a marketing strategy toted with a feverish zeal. I didn’t understand the sense of this dictum and because I had gone with an assisted self-publisher for my first book, I didn’t have the ability to give Disappearing in Plain Sight away for free. I’m glad now that was the case.
Striking out on my own with my book of short-stories and the second book in the Crater Lake Series, The Light Never Lies, I’ve had the option to offer them up for no cost. Like most self-published authors, I’ve dipped a toe in the waters. The results didn’t break any records. A free weekend of Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope garnered thirty downloads. If I could be assured thirty downloads meant thirty reads, I’d be more than happy with the whole endeavour. But, as J.J points out in her post, most free material ends up archived on someone’s Kindle never to be read or given a second thought. After all it was free.
Some might argue, little invested for little return about my efforts. Perhaps. The common wisdom out there is that you have to land a coveted and, let me add, expensive advertising spot if your free promotion is going to amount to anything. But the idea of spending money to give books away is so beyond-the-beyond to me, I don’t even want to dwell on it.
Writing is my passion and, at the end of the day, I’ll keep doing it even if I never make a penny beyond what I spend to allow my work to see the light of day. But I’m reminded of something my husband was told by a wise person when he first started his own business. If you devalue what you do, no one else is going to value it either.
A copy of an e-book sells for less than a fancy cup of coffee. For that low price a reader should expect a well-written, well-edited, well thought out book. A great cover and good blurb should be part of the package, too. If you don’t get all of the above, I urge you not to purchase the work of that author again. But given all of that, the price is not too much to ask for the time and effort that goes into writing a full-length novel – even if the author is an unknown quantity.
I add my small voice to that of other self-published authors who declare that we won’t offer our books for free. I’ll still do giveaways to friends, family, serious reviewers and charitable events.
There you have it. What are your thoughts on the whole free e-book issue?