We all love getting stuff for free. Free books? Wow!
Someone came up with a terrific promotional tool here. Give away a book, hook readers on your writing, or maybe on Book 1 of a series, and they will buy, buy, buy the rest of your books. It was a great idea. I think it worked well for many authors. It might still work well for some. But like all great ideas, it has been copied too much.
I am inundated with free books. I have piles of books around my desk and on my shelves, most of which have been given to me. I have close to a hundred books on my iPad, and almost all of them were free. I have so many free books, books that I want to read, that I don’t know when I’ll ever have to buy another book.
There are so many free books being offered now that I actually subscribe to a daily list of free books that comes to my inbox. I used to jump at any book I saw for free. Now I run down the list, read a few descriptions, and pick one or two that look interesting to download. One or two out of about 30. One or two PER DAY. I am now so inundated with free choices I can pick and choose.
This is wonderful for readers, but I see it as a looming problem for authors.
Yes, I put out a free book (How I Met My Husband.) It was an anthology of blogs from my web site. Short pieces that were already on line from 24 authors about how each met their husband. The book included blurbs and excerpts of the authors’ books.
The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood also put out a free book. It is a book of recipes along with book blurbs and excerpts called Eat, Read, Love.
To me, that’s the kind of book that should be free. Books that give the reader a little taste of what the author can do. An appetizer that leads a reader in search of the author’s book.
For those authors (I envy you!) who sit at the computer and words just pour out of them, I can understand that they feel they can afford to give one or two books away as “bait,” hoping to catch readers. But what is all this doing for authors in general? Especially authors like me who struggle over every word and who work on each book for a year? We have to try harder to actually sell books. We have to lower prices. We see readers passing us by as they reach for the free books instead. As they used to say, “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” Readers are coming to expect free books, cheaper books.
I’m not going to think that this one blog can, or should, stop the flow of free books. Maybe I’m short sighted. Maybe more free books will be a good thing for reader and author alike. But for me, right now, it seems like authors are cutting our own throats.
As a reader or author, how do you see the flood of free books?