What is the marketing rationale for providing free e-books?  It looks like there are thousands out there.  If I do free work as an attorney, usually the only thing that gets me is more people wanting me to work for free.  

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I'm sure Amazon is thrilled that so many people are willing to provide free content for their e-readers--never mind that 99% of it is utter crap. My sense is that the great majority of people who give their work away for free do so because they've figured out that no one with any sense would pay for it, but for whatever reason they hold out hope of fame and fortune (see 50 Shades, etc.). They're playing Amazon's game, and the wheel is decidedly rigged in Amazon's favor. Unfortunately for those writers who might have a bit of integrity, it's rapidly becoming the only game in town. That said, the agency model does overprice ebooks--they should probably sell for $3.99 to $9.99 for new releases.

Keep in mind that for many authors who are or have been traditionally published (i.e. they've passed the gatekeepers) Amazon is the last and only hope.  The loss of a publisher can happen to anyone.  (Not that they are much of a loss when I look at my contract terms).

A large percentage of trad published fiction is utter crap.If these authors tried to get published today, they would fail utterly. No agent would take them on. That's why these books don't sell.

With all due respect, Jon, you just don't seem to get that the publishing business has changed radically. The publishing business has nothing to do with "integrity." [oh yeah, the publisher had to withdraw a book that faked quotes from Bob Dylan because they didn't have the money to vet the quotes?]  It has to do with money. Some independent novelists are actually making money publishing their books. Please don't insult me and others who are achieving this success. You know nothing about our credentials, writing or otherwise. 

A large percentage of everything is crap when you really think about it.

I'm self-published but can't argue with Jon's estimation that 99% of self-published fiction is utter crap given there are no gatekeepers in self-publishing, given I believe big publishing's gatekeepers know at least a thing or two about quality (and hold their noses when they publish celeb novels, etc.) and prefer to publish quality yet have to deal with sales/marketing folk.

I've given away roughly 75,000 ebooks for free, but Jon's wrong about my motivations for doing so. Whether he's wrong about why other authors give their work away I really couldn't say, but suspect there are myriad reasons.

It's all about trying to get noticed. I don't particularly enjoy doing a free book giveaway (although I'm doing one today for No Cry For Help), in fact it makes me feel a bit queasy because I've been working so damn hard on all my books and received such wonderful reviews. But if nobody knows your name, the price doesn't matter. One day it would be nice to offer a free book as a reward for my millions of readers, but for now it's simply a way to get my name and my thrillers out there. I've been published by Random House and Penguin, and I have a new deal with Midnight Ink. Jon, feel free to check out the book, I can assure you it definitely isn't crap. 


Thousands? Try close to millions probably! LOL!

Folks jumped on a bandwagon and thought free was the best way to get someone to check out their books and before you know it, everyone and their momma had a free book out. I think it might've worked for authors better when it first started but there are millions of them now so it's not half as effective as it used to be. I also think it will be even less effective seeing how Amazon has changed things to where books that are priced higher get more advantages on their lists and for exposure on the site. I don't even read freebies anymore because all the ones I've read except for a few were horrible. Plus they were crowding my ereader and I wasn't reading even half of them and some were just too bad to try to read.

I do support SP authors though and buy SP books all the time. These days I find that the SP books that have prices are of a little more quality. Not always but compared to most of those freebies, definitely.

But I always go by samples anyway. I never buy a book without a sample. What gets me is I think some authors feel like because the book is free it doesn't have to be of quality. Well readers might not be paying money for it but they are paying their time which should be valuable enough to a writer to want to at least give a good product.

I know a lot of readers who were reading freebies and they've stopped as well because they've been burned so many times.

The only freebies I read now are those from authors who either are commercially published or once were and now self-publishing because I find their books are always up to par in terms of writing. The others I buy freebies from are SP authors I've come to enjoy who can write well. But other than that I skip the freebies.

Also this isn't an opinion of anyone here so if you love to give out free books, don't take offense. I'm also not judging anyone's book I haven't read. I am just speaking from my experiences and from the freebies I've come across. Like I said a few were good but that's not good to say when you download a pile of them and you can only get through two.

I don't get that.

I don't have any problem finding good stuff to read.  Using pretty much the same process I use to sort out books that cost a lot of money.  (Which I'd say I've been burned on worse)

People seem to be freaking out that there are all these jillions of books out there, but there always have been really.  You walked into Borders or B&N and looked around...where do you start?

Same way in a big urban library.  It's kind of like, all these people out there you'll never know.

I don't see it as being any different, really.  Certain books cross my path, I read the ones I think might pay off.  I've got more on hand now than I'll ever get through.  I've had a Kindle for year and have hundreds and hundreds of ebooks.   Most of them freebies, actually.  I'm getting a bigger and bigger kick out of finding stuff I like that nobody's heard of, have no reviews, but are fun to read.

Well if you give away a LOT of freebies there is still a decent pay-off (and that's not counting however many freebie grabbers become purchasers of your other books and regular readers of yours down the line).

Yesterday one of my novels hit #6 on the free list among all Amazon novels and #1 among mysteries & thrillers. I gave away nearly 13,000 copies and today now that the book is back to its usual $2.99 price it's already sold four times as many copies as it had all month.

The novel is fairly well reviewed and has a decent number of reviews by now. I think a healthy number of good reviews may be essential these days in order to give away a lot of copies given the extraordinary number of offerings.

Now see,  that right there.

You wrote a book and 13000 people read it!

OK, maybe that's an intangible, but to me it sounds like, "Priceless".

Seems like any writer would want that, and it sure can't be anything other than a good thing.

I agree, Eric. The downloads increase when you have more positive reviews. At least mine have. I think many people download novels in a particular genre and a certain percentage of them never even read the book. I've had 40K total downloads in the past 6 months and I'm sure not all of them were read, but I've picked up a surprising number of excellent reviews, US and UK, actually had two people email me thru my website asking when was my next one coming out!  In September, if I don't collapse before then. And yes, I'll email the fans and let them know the minute it's out. 

I tried the Freebie approach when sales of my Kindle books became a little slack and it does make a difference as paid sales do pick up after a free day and by doing a freebie for 1 day a month, it keeps my sales occuring on a regular basis.  It is the same with library books as you borrow it for free and if you like the author, you go back for more so it is a cost effective method to gain new readers.  I'm trying out a 3 days freebie for the first time from Wednesday for my second Kindle book GAME OF JUSTICE to gauge whether an extension makes more of a difference.

Mark, hope you'll let us know. It's been my experience that 2 or 3 day freebees get you the most attention, because your book gets to the top of the freebee lists. Good luck!


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