For authors who give away the most free copies of their works in a given year. And the award goes to...

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Comment by Dan L. Coleman on July 3, 2014 at 5:10am

Thanks for your responses here. Was just wondering how others felt about it.

Comment by Dana King on July 2, 2014 at 12:57am


Thanks for getting back to me. We do have quite dissimilar situations as writers--I'm waaayyy behind you there--but maybe not so different personal outlooks. I was perfectly happy putting out my novels as e-books and selling in the dozens with good reviews. I lucked into a small print deal last year and got a much better reception than I had anticipated, so I took a shot on submitting for the award. I have an agent now, and my attitude is to bust my hump for a couple of years to see what might be available. If it's not much, I can return to my previous situation with a happy heart. The validation of getting a contract and an award nomination was more than my ego needed, and the amount of money I figure to make from writing isn't going to change my financial situation beyond maybe paying for drinks at Bouchercon. So, whatever happens, happens.

Comment by Lee Lamothe on July 1, 2014 at 11:02am

Dana yep, your strategy makes perfect sense, whether it turns out to be successful or not. (Hopefully, it does.) My situation is vastly different: I'm a newly retired geezer -- eleven books, ten traditionally published (one self-pubbed) -- who managed to fulfill my "next works" clause of the publisher's contracts. They turned it down, thank god. This means in addition to being publisher-free, I'm essentially agent-free as well -- my agent only reps me for the Ray Tate/Djuna Brown and the Charlie Tate/Elodie Gray series. Both of these, in spite of being now dead in the water were finalists for an award, even though I didn't -- and wouldn't -- enter them. That's the publisher's publicity folks; I'm not a publicist. 

In my case, I went to Paris and sat on my butt and decided what I wanted from writing. After eliminating the ego factor of it (I've published, as I said, several books, as well as had hundreds, if not thousands, of stories in print; all crime in newspapers and magazines); I eliminated the financial side of it (my needs are tiny and as long as I can have a platter of fresh oysters and a magnum of champagne every couple of days, well, I'll suffer along; as someone famously said: "A little bread, a little wine, and the aristocracy to which I've become accustomed ..."). I'm not particularly heartened by a book of mine being picked up: while I've met some fine (mostly young) folks in traditional publishing, a lot of them are morons. So, having a book accepted by a dummy -- fifty-fifty odds -- doesn't mean it's any good: it just means the dummy had a good day. Or a bad one.

So, I wish everyone well who has a promotional/give-away strategy. Probably, if I was younger and hungrier, I'd be out there beating the bushes, wracking my brain. But I'm not: I'm older and quite likely feeble-minded.

Love to hear the results when your experiment is complete.

Best, Lee

Comment by Dana King on June 30, 2014 at 2:01pm

A five-day giveaway of all four of my e-books concludes Sunday night. While I generally agree with n not giving away books, there are some promotional circumstances where it may be a good idea.

In my case, one of the books was recently nominated for a Shamus Award. A Small Sacrifice received almost no push, even through my limited resources, as a quirk in publishing schedules, moved my first traditionally published book much closer to Sacrifice's release date, As the published book had more people with skin in the game, I felt it only right to focus there. A Small Sacrifice pretty much died on the vine.

My situation has changed somewhat since then. I now have an agent shopping my procedural series. When A Small Sacrifice received its nomination, he expressed an interest in trying to place it, as well. Each of these tasks might well me made easier if there were a more sizable number of positive reviews. The first step to increasing the number of positive reviews is to increase the number of reviews, period, and the best ay I can think of to increase the number of reviews is to get the book into the hands of as many readers as possible, as quickly as possible. So, I solicited the help of some friends via social media and took advantage of several free e-book announcement sites. Over 12,000 e-books have been given away since last Wednesday. Even if 90% of those who downloaded books don't read them, and 90% of those who read them don't review them, that will still be 120 reviews. For me, that Mission Accomplished.

Will the reviews be any good? Well, that's the part I can't control, not once the book is out there. people like them, or they don't. The reviews I've had so far have been very good, so I'd like to think that will continue, though I also have to expect a greater number of reviewers also means the odd increase of the books finding people who don't like them.That's fine; no book is universally liked. 

The way I see it, there's nothing to lose. I have a full-time job, with not time and no money worth mentioning for marketing. The books weren't selling. My best bet was to get them noticed with some kind of splash promotion. If the reviews are not what I'm hoping for? Then the books weren't likely to get contracts, anyway. 

Comment by Lee Lamothe on June 26, 2014 at 10:26am

Dan well it seems nobody's biting on this one after eleven hours. I'd've been interested to see who gave away how many and whether it works as "marketing".

It isn't a route I'd follow, but I'm blessed (kind of) to have only sixth-two people I write for: this includes family and friends and a few fans I picked up before I went "indie". To be sure, I make each of them pay -- one fellow, a restaurant owner-friend said he'd take the book (the new one, in limited edition with an archival print of a collage from my first exhibition glued in the cover, edition of fifty) and give me a steak.

I said, "Cash dough."

He said, "But, you want forty dollars for the book? The steak's on the menu for fifty-seven dollars."

I said, "Cash."

My wife laughed until he dug into his pocket and pulled out two twenties.

"Finally," my suffering wife said, "you're turning pro."

Then I ordered the steak. I hope the restaurateur enjoys the book as much as I did the steak. No stupid typos in that steak.

Short story: I give nothing I write away to nobody, never, no place. I do not work for food. Whether the forty dollar limited edition (now $50, by the way: push that price-point until people laugh at me) or my $2.99 ebook: cash dough. You want it free? Steal it from the library. As long as my sixty-two folks buy it, I'm serene.

But I'm sure there's folks who've formulated discounts and giveaways and two-for-ones or ten-for ones. I'm sure it works for them. My reasons for writing are probably not the same as theirs. I like a launch party where folks buy the books and it costs me, oh just about the break-even point in wine and food, maybe less the cost of POD or formatting. For me, that's a successful book.


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