Monday, August 6, 2012

The Ef in Free

There's nothing quite so electrifying as getting something for free. It's like you're winning, getting over on our capitalist society by jeering at the idiots paying for something when you have yours free. Now I'm not talking about stealing, I'm talking about taking advantage of all the free stuff out there. And for a bibliophile like myself, I'm steering this conversation toward free books.

A few of my publishers have recently started offering books for free, and it's encouraging sales. Take a series that's been around for a while, offer the first book for free and hope to hook readers. Everyone wins. Readers get a taste of something new without paying a dime. Some like the book enough to buy the next in the series, and the author and publisher reap the rewards together.

I really don't see a downside to free...unless you're a new author giving away the farm. Free is a means of promotion. The something for nothing adage only works if there's another book to keep the reader happy.

I love writing. I love it so much, I'll write regardless of pay or publication. However, that said, I make a living by writing. My kids and I have a roof over our heads and food on the table because I sell what I write. To give away my time and energy is a liability if it interferes with my ability to provide for my family. I'm a fan of free, but it comes at a price. My price, and only I can determine if I can pay that or not.

I know several self-published authors who have put up books for free, and they have nothing else published. I don't understand this concept, especially because the authors want to quit their day jobs and make a living from writing. It's not good business sense. "But we want to grow our readership, expand our market." Smart, sure. But what market is there in one book?

Granted, if it's a Harry Potter, there's a lot of market. But even Harry had seven books to his name. I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, but honestly, it doesn't make sense to strive for financial independence (through writing) by giving away work for free. 

Sigh. I'd meant this to be a positive post about the ef in free. Instead, I went way off track. But I'm just baffled at how many independent authors get giddy about being having a bestselling free book with nothing else in their library.I understand wanting to share a good story, but if your end goal is to write as a paying profession, one free book with nothing else to offer does not make sense.

Okay, rant done. I digress. On the plus side for free books, I wanted to share some good news I already took advantage of. Currently for free at Ellora's Cave this week are Skye's Trail by Jory Strong (great book, I just read it) and Let Them Eat Cake by Ravyn Wilde (haven't read this yet but downloaded it). At Samhain, there's Crux by Moira Rogers (bought it when it first came out, great book) and Just the Way I Like It by Erin Nicholas (which I need to download.)

All of these books are beginnings to series, and it's worth it to read the first to see if the rest pique your interest. So swing by EC and Samhain if you want some great reads for free. My good word on this Monday morning. And now, back to my regularly prescribed caffeine.


Ayla Ruse said...

Great post, Marie. I have to agree with you completely. Giving away the first book in a series is more teasing than Kindle giving away the first chapter or two of a book as a sample. When you read that first book, you become invested in the characters, the story lines, the...everything. I know I have become financially "hooked" into a series before because I read the first one (free), and just had to read more! If, on the other hand, there are no more books by the "free" author, I tend to forget about him/her. Eventually, if the author publishes another book, I'm not going to know. I'm not going to spend days Googling the persons name on the off-chance something new will appear. This kind of makes the whole "building readership" theory backfire, IMO.
Oh, and thanks for the head's up on more free reads. Or, I should say, more series in which to invest! :P

D. McCollum D. McCollum said...

You are spot on, as usual! Enjoy your day.

Marie Harte said...

I know, Ayla. But am I really doing you a favor by introducing more stuff you might eventually buy? haha Then again, good books are like gold, so I'm always game to try something new. Especially if it's free.

Marie Harte said...

Why thank you D. McCollum. Enjoy your day as well!

leann said...

Ms. Marie, I admit I get most of my ebooks as FREE or paperbacks from the library. When I read a book that was free & I liked it, I look thru my library's records to see if they have the books by that author. If they don't then I usually request that they order some. 9 out of 10 times my library will order them. This way everyone can share in the read. I understand that you only get paid after the library orders them, but there is too many people out there who cannot afford paper/e-books. that's why we rely on the libraries, authors free ebooks and/or contests(love). I love to read & sadly this is the only way I can. :-) leann