Free Books: One Giant Step for Writerkind?

M. J. Rose has this article up on The Huffington Post. In it, she talks about the logic and marketing sense behind giving away her book The Reincarnationist for free.

I told you I wasn’t going to stay organized. From first drafts to marketing all in one week. I’ve heard this discussion before, though, and it’s an interesting one–this seemed a good time to share.

I think Rose is probably right. If you make the assumption (or goal) that you are going to write and publish more than one book in your lifetime, then you are not so much trying to market each book, as you are working to market yourself.  As Rose points out, people buy books by the authors whose other books they’ve liked. Not just “people.” We do. I do. I’m still waiting eagerly for the next Deborah Crombie or Jo Bannister mystery, and my son and I agree that the definition of optimism is hoping there’ll be a new Roald Dahl book soon (or a Jane Austen, as I once heard someone say).  

Of course, we’re talking electronic versions here, not the cost of paper and ink and binding, but still…If giving a book away for free gets readers to you, isn’t the return going to be much higher than the expenditure? Not just in people reading your book and talking about it, but in them coming back for more–your next book and your next and your next.

Like I said, I think M.J. and all the other people putting forth this argument are right. And yet…there’s a corner of my brain still shouting, “What?! Really?!” and wondering about doing this for myself.

Luckily (or unluckily!) I’m not yet at the point where I have to make this decision. I suspect, though, that sometime in the future I will find myself there, in a discussion about one of my books, not the hypothetical book of a theoretical author. It’s a step on the path that’s coming, I think, for all of us. And so it’s a step worth thinking about and listening to what others are saying.

Thanks to Jessica Faust for putting the link up on Facebook.


  1. Andra M. says:

    I’m near that decision point since my novella is at the printers now (Booksurge). I figured bribery was in order to help it sell.

    Once it’s out, I will hold a contest where my book (autographed) is one of several prizes. Other prizes will be bookmarks and pens with my name, website, et al.

    It’ll easily cost me $100 or so to do it, but in the long run, it’ll be worth it.

    I hope anyway.

    Taking risks comes with seeing our works published.


  2. beckylevine says:

    I think contests are a great way to go. Good luck! Keep us posted how it goes. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: