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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Free or Not to Free

There's a lot of rather heated and at times arrogant debate among Indy authors regarding the benefits of giving away books.  I publish through Kindle Direct  and I've taken advantage of their free promotion at every opportunity, which means five days out of every three months I can offer my ebook titles for free.  I've given away as many as 2500 copies of Hearts Unfold and as few as 250 of other titles in a given period.  The way I see this, it's a little like giving away samples at the grocery store. A few customers will actually buy a box of the snack crackers they gobbled down in the aisles. Only a percentage, probably 10 to 15 percent, of those books will ever be read. ( Have you ever looked at the shelves of readers on Goodreads--who can read 60000 books in a lifetime?)
But back to the debate, which by the way, I've only observed in the author forums on KDP. No one's ever actually assaulted his fellow writer, but the language, as you might expect from wordsmiths, gets pretty rich.  Some authors will declare they worked too hard writing their books to devalue them by giving them away.  Others will tell you they've had great success with sales following the promotions.  Still others will say once upon a time in the early days of indy publishing that might have worked, but not any more.  There are posts demanding that all authors boycott the whole program, while just below that you'll see an author announcing that their book is FREE THIS WEEKEND!  For people who specialize in communication, this is definitely one area where the practice breaks down.

I can see both sides of the issue.  I too have worked to make the best product I can.  That said, my book is only as good as the reader's experience, should they be brave enough to download and read the work of a complete unknown.  At this point in time, while I love selling books, I love even more the idea that somewhere out there, someone is enjoying the story I've tried to tell.  When I hear from a reader that they tried a book for free and subsequently bought others, I'm content that we both got a great deal.

Right now my little Christmas novella is on free promotion. I decided to use the full five days at once this time.  Realistically, who wants a Christmas book in February?  Today, the first free day, I've already given away 100 books in the US and fifteen overseas. And it's only 4:30 on the west coast! 

If I wanted to wade into the debate, which I do not, I'd have to point out that anyone who reads these books has learned my name, the name of my series and seen the blurb for each of the other titles. If I did my job well, they enjoyed the book.  If they didn't, they haven't lost anything but a little time, and I haven't lost anything either, because of course, I only want readers who enjoy my books.  A bit of a risk, perhaps, but that ebook didn't really cost anyone anything.  And the value of a happy reader is, as we say about far too many things, priceless!

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