Free Books Really?
WHY? Why would anyone spend months writing a book, researching a story, paying hundreds – editing costs around US$1,000 for a standard sized book, cover design – a couple hundred, reviewing it, proofing it, sending out free copies – at your expense – to key reviewers – in the hopes that they actually go ahead and review it, all this, so you can give it away for free. Free Books Really? WHY? What a waste of an author’s time and money. And…let’s face it, are free books really going to be any good?
There was a point, in early January 2016 when I first released Monique – a book I spent a year researching and interviewing, then writing, then editing, proofing, re-editing, re-writing and finally, releasing. I get it, nobody knows who the hell Fox Emerson is, so sales will be slow. And they have been. I’m not disappointed, I’m happy with the sales I’ve had. More importantly, I’m happy that the people who took the time to review the book, email me or thank me on social media were happy with my effort. But after a little bit of research, I discovered that the best way to maximise sales would be to make my book free for a period of time. What!? Free Books Really? Apparently that’s how the algorithm for companies like Amazon work, you make your book free, lots of people download it, it ranks highly and then you can jack your price back up and hopefully – fingers crossed – you increase sales.
But I’ve just given a year’s worth of work away for free to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in the hopes that I might sell a dozen more copies! Where is the sanity in that strategy?
After a quick look around the internet, I discovered literally thousands of websites who will promote your book as long as it is free. What. The. Fuck.
Let’s face it, the publishing industry has changed. It’s opened up the doors for anyone to write a book and publish it. Unfortunately, the ones who don’t realise that writing a book is a business – and it is a business – end up publishing a sloppy book and giving it away for free. Then thousands of readers go and read these free books and then bitch that self-published authors are shit. Whoooooah. No, no, no. Free books are shit, not self-published authors. A lot of good books refuse to be free. Because they didn’t decide to vomit onto some pages, slap a hastily mashed up cover on it and unleash it onto the readership as a free book really. They decided that they would write a good book, pay the due editing fees, get a professional cover created that represents their book and go and market the book as best as they can. They didn’t mark it as free but they did perhaps make it 99 cents so that you could enjoy a new author’s work. Hopefully appreciate the time that went into writing that book and hopefully the book was good enough that you’d jump on Amazon or wherever you brought it from and thank the author publicly by providing them with a review.
Once an author starts getting good reviews, some recognition and a bit of a following, perhaps then they can afford to start pricing their books and hoping to make some money from it.
Not all free books are shit, but I have to be honest, 95% of them are. That’s my experience and the experience of my followers, friends and colleagues who constantly bitch that free books really are shit.
You don’t go to a supermarket and look at the quality of local mandarines which are selling for 20 cents and then compare them to imported mandarines selling at $2.99 and then bitch that the 20 cent mandarines are tasteless in comparison. Really? Did you seriously just buy cheaper quality products and expect them to be as high quality as the organic and perhaps high quality imported products?
Yet the number of readers who download free books and then complain that they are full of typo’s and grammatical errors and made them feel like they’d wasted their time is reaching epidemic proportions.
Pay for a decent book after reading reviews, having a look at the other author’s works. Most smart authors now provide you with a sample of their works on their websites for free. You can even read the first sample chapters of a book before you buy it. So why not do that? Read the first few pages then decide if that book is worth the price.
Whatever you do, don’t snap up a free book really expecting it to be the next Dan Brown’s masterpiece.
Authors, don’t go down that road. Don’t make your book free ever. It’s not worth it. Plan your books and be patient. If it’s good it will sell well. If it’s shit, then write another one and improve.
Thanks for reading my Free Books Really rant. Please have a look at the first couple of chapters of both Monique or Mr 303 which I’m very proud of and tell me whether you think it’s worth the 2.99 or 99c respectively. Given the genuine reviews I’ve received on Amazon for my first book Monique, I’d say it isn’t a shit book.
Steam valve closed.