This thing is starting to disturb me a little.  I'm just taking first baby steps into writing books, but I work pretty close with my publisher and am getting the skinny on how things are starting to work.

They hate amazon, but I wouldn't mind going on the Select program...and why?  Because they set it up as the only way to give books away for free. And I'm not a girl very fond of giving it up for free, let me tell you.

But then I asked them about getting on some of these email lists for Kindle books, because they did really good with that back in February.  Very powerful place to get sales.  But guess what, they're looking at how many reviews you got, and how many stars.

And the only way I can see to get that fast is giving away books to people who want to review.

So suddenly I'm seeing this kind of machine where the only way to get in front of mass ebook market is to give it away.  Like I say, I was already weighing that (Adoro will put me on that Select thing if I really want to)  but the idea of a big system forcing everybody to that and setting up a whole new tier system for writers is kind of troublesome.

I keep finding that whatever i come to about publishing, people come up with really good arguments for the other side of the issue, so I guess I'm wondering what y'all think of this?

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I think giving away free copies to get reviews is something publishers have been doing for a long, long time. One of the things that seperated the big publishers from the small ones was the ability (the money, really) to print and distribute hundreds of ARCs. Some of the most hyped books have had thousands (tens of thousands?) of ARCs given away free.

 

Mayb you just have to look at a period of giving away the book for free as ARCs.

 

John, I've been working with Kindle Select. That means we are allowed to give away a title for 5 days of a 90 day period.  It's currently the only way Amazon will give you a bit of publicity.  It's up to the author to decide if they want to give books away for 5 days.  They could just have a single give-away day in a 90-day period.

None of the give-aways generate much in terms of reviews. On give-away day, the books get snapped up by the hundreds, maybe thousands.  After that, the title doesn't sell a for a while.  No wonder.  Thus, it's possible that too many give-aways are seriously counterproductive.  On the positive side, you may pick up fans that way.  Or the free-loaders are just that:  people who would never spend a dime on a book.

 

So all in all, each author has to experiment and see what works best in a particular case. 

I sent "ARCs" to a select number of people and outlets I hoped would be willing to review or at least help to promote my two e-books by emailing the MOBI and EPUB files to them directly after they were formatted. You have to have the email address first, and I limited my initial mailings to people I knew personally, but I got several nice notices and will do more of the same in the future.

Will review your latest as soon as I figure out how to recover from my botched attempt at murdering my friend's wife.

I'll bet there's an interesting backstory here.

In recent months I've given away roughly 40,000 ebooks via Amazon's KDP Select program. It's probably generated about three reader reviews per book on Amazon and another three or so on Goodreads. So book giveaways are not going to lead to a significant number of reviews without a quid pro quo arrangement because I doubt very much that my experience is unique.

My hope is that at least one quarter of the people who've downloaded my books for free will eventually read them. And I expect some will like them enough to buy new or other books of mine.

My guess is tons of freebies will be inevitable in this new Pro-Am type ebook environment. New authors, at least, will have to earn a following via the freebies before being able to charge enough for new books to make a living at it. Most never will, but we all know this, right?

My experience also, but did I know it?  No.  We live to learn.  For that matter, if you believe Joe Konrath's experience is typical or even probable, think again.  Joe started 3 years ago.  He had no competition to speak of.  He set up his system, and by now it's rolling.  This isn't likely to happen in the current e-book publishing craze.  I'm waiting to see if he addresses the changed climate.

Excellent point, and one you don't see much.  I like Joe, love what he's done and doing, but he sometimes seems a big smug, when actually he was, as you say, the first guy to jump into an empty tub.  And with the strength of his traditionally published books going for him.

Joe also had some cred as a traditionally published author before he went electronic.

Well, yes.  That's what I was saying.

And there's a whole different model of successful traditional authors dumping their contracts and going private like that.

This might end up affecting contracts, in the future, wouldn't we think?

Like IJ said, it's not like we can just get his cookbook and do the same thing he did.  Anymore than you could use the same model of Ford to start up a car company tomorrow.

Maybe I didn't expess myself well.  I'm not talking about reviews.

I'm talking about just giving books away en masse.  I was apalled by people al giddy about getting 6000 downloads, Eric mentioning 40,000 sets my hair on end.  

It just seems like we get pushed into just tossing our books into the wind for free, and not doing so is less and less of an option.

I've been involved in a number of giveaways of books, and have found that it never really seemed to do anything for me.  People who get the books for free often never respond in any way that lets you know if they read the book, or if they recommended it to their friends.  I've more or less stopped giving them away except as review copies.  There's no point in just sending them out into the void, and as has been noted before, people don't tend to value things they get for free.

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