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message 1: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments I often see people arguing over the merits (or otherwise) of authors offering books for free for promotion purposes. Some people use it as a good marketing tool and some people see it as akin to satan's work. I also see readers snapping up free books left, right and centre and some who avoid them and would never read a free book.

I have decided to host a debate, both camps can put forward their views, including readers. Questions will be asked and opinions can be vented but it will not get nasty.

If you think you might like to be involved, either as an author or a reader please email me at stating:

Author - for freebies.
Author - against freebies.
Reader - for freebies.
Reader - against freebies.

If I get enough responses it could be a regular thing.

message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex James (alexjames) | 15 comments I don't mind airing some of my views/preferences regarding this debate. Is this where we debate or are you hosting this debate on your blog?

Alex James

message 3: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments PM me you email and I will send you the google plus link.

Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments erm

hows about we have the debate in here?

good grief

message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments debate!
It could never happen ;-)

message 6: by A.L. (last edited Jul 11, 2013 01:34PM) (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Well because it is ruddy hard to copy it over to the blog who will be hosting it in so many separate posts. Googledrive offers the ability to co-write which makes life a lot easier.

Of course if people want to chat about it here that is great as well.

I saw debate it is more... here are some questions you lot answer then and keep it above the belt.
It really depends how interesting it works out to be with whether I decide to take up the blog's offer.

I am wondering whether to be an innocent by-stander or to put forward my views.

Personally I think it is up to the author if they want to use that marketing strategy. It does seem to work for some and not others. I do download free books and I have gone on to buy follow-ups.

message 7: by Michael Cargill (last edited Jul 11, 2013 01:41PM) (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 2994 comments I think having extreme views about it one way or the other is a bit daft.

I often see people warbling on about distorting the market or authors not having enough confidence in their work. Bloody mentalists.

message 8: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Yes, it is certainly one strategy which works for some and not others, personally I saw a boost just after a promotion BUT I did get a BOM nomination at about the same time so that may have something to do with it.

For indies it is really hard to get noticed and even harder to get reviews, frankly if giving away a 1000 books which those people might not have bought and some people read them and tell their friends who then buy the book then that is good.

Bad books devalue authors and indies whether they be free or not.

message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex James (alexjames) | 15 comments I remember feeling quite ecstatic that a lot of people had downloaded my book on its free day upon its release. However in the back of my mind was the nagging thought that I had given away all these copies and had no idea how many of those people read my book. Not one person left a review I don't think.

I haven't done another free promotion day since because it doesn't feel as if I am actively marketing my work.

However, saying that, I have seen a few people's books that are free on amazon kindle that have hundreds of reviews, and therefore a lot of exposure...

I agree with Michael about the extreme views part.

message 10: by Niall (new)

Niall | 13 comments I'm more likely to download a book from an author I don't know if the book is free as it means all I'm risking is loosing half an hour of my time if its not my cup of tea. So I don't see why readers would have a problem with free books
I suppose the problem for the author is where they sit on the artistic scale. Is writing purely a way of making money or is it about sharing their vision with the world.
I like to paint and it takes a few hours of my free time, if someone likes it great, if not so what. But a book is a big investment to the writer and I guess you have to balance the financial advantages of giving your stuff away now creating more interest in future protects.
So, readers against free stuff, just silly.
Authors against free stuff, is it an investment in your future earnings.

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Brookes (technohippy) I'd rather sell my books than give them away :-)

As a reader free books mean I try more authors than I wouldn't otherwise, although I'm happy to pay for authors I've read previously and enjoyed.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments What does surprise me is the variability reported by people who do run free downloads. Some swear by it and claim they got lots of reviews, others say it was a waste of time because they got none.

I suspect on problem is that reviews aren't any big deal, no one sees them until they get to your page on Amazon (or where ever).
It's getting them to the page on Amazon that's the difficult trick

message 13: by Elaine (new)

Elaine | 148 comments As a reader, for the first few months I had my Kindle, it was "click click click click click" on the free books. The result was I had a backlog of 500 books which I would never get round to reading and then when I sat down and decided to start seriously reading through these freebies, most of them turned out to be complete and utter tosh and ended up deleted after a few pages. I haven't downloaded a free book for a long while now, unless it has been personally recommended. However, even when I did read the freebie books I always made an effort to review them, but the rub is, I doubt whether anyone actually read the reviews because they were too busy clicking the freebie links.

message 14: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments See the thing is, yes there are free books which are tosh, I don't think anyone disputes that but there are also a lot of paid-for books which are tosh. On the flip side there are great free books (and paid for one.) Being free doesn't make a book bad, the lousy writing/poor grammar/terrible plot makes a book awful, free or not. Amazon only allows the books to be free 5 days in 3 months so the rest of the time they are for sale.

For me as a reader I usually don't remember if a book is free when I actually get around to reading it.

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Oxford (sarahloxford) | 287 comments I don't tend to remember if it was free either, they all just go on the kindle. But I agree with Elaine. I clicked clicked clicked and most of them just sit on the kindle taking up space. It being free might make me download it (although I'm more picky now) but it won't make me read it.

Surely the best marketing strategy using freebies is to be selective as to who you are giving it free to? I'm no author but would be interested to hear experiences. If by giving your book away you are hoping for word of mouth and reviews then just give it free to those who agree to review it in exchange. Either book bloggers or amateur reviewers like me. Then you can specifically target your audience.
I don't know whether it works for authors but as a reader I like it as a way of getting higher quality 'free' books. Plus I enjoy championing any indie gems that come my way.

I've seen it in action on my news feed here on goodreads. You see the review pop up from a blogger and then you see a whole bunch of others adding it 'to be read'.

message 16: by Jim (last edited Jul 12, 2013 01:22AM) (new)

Jim | 21716 comments How about this as a base line

A lot of books are tosh because they've not been properly edited.
A publishing house will normally ensure that there is a decent editor used because they have their reputation to consider, never mind the reputation of the writer.

There are exceptions. Sometimes when it is a celebrity thing, they decide people expect to read the authentic voice of the celebrity (or the ghost writer) so don't edit as they would a lesser mortal.
Sometimes, as with 50 shades of Grey, the book is already a major best seller and taking it off the market to edit properly is going to loose you more money than the properly edited version will ever make.

As someone who has now worked with a professional editor on six books, a good editor stretches a writer. The editor doesn't just correct things, the editor asks questions and pushes the writer to go further.
Because of my editor I would say that I am a better writer

Frankly we might be better with Indie Fiction if rather than putting the author's name on the front cover, we put the name of the editor :-)

message 17: by Adam (new)

Adam (adammannan) | 133 comments Having the facility to offer books for free is useful on occasion, but only as an exception. As a writer I'm a little against doing so on a regular basis. I find it disrespectful to my readers who purchased my books and who have thereby supported my work. Also, considering the time my books take to research and write, their size, and the low price I set for their sale I find it a little upsetting when people expect me to make the book free.

I understand that not every book is for everyone and as a reader I'm annoyed by books that have great blurbs and reviews, but don't live up to my expectations. In recognition of this I make a large portion of a book readable for free. For example with Ripples In An Emerald Sea I made the first 40% available to read for free (about 87,000 words). So far I'm persuaded that this is the fairest method of selling my work. Considering the attention that some free books get in terms of ratings and reviews this is not the most savvy marketing method.

When I first bought my eReader, like Elaine and Sarah, I downloaded lots of free books from Amazon. Regretfully, out of those, I've probably read only a dozen and I probably won't read the others, but in that time I've read several times as many books that I purchased. Now, I almost never download a free ebook.

Free books I liked enough to finish, where possible I then purchased or I purchased other works by the author, because: I'm well aware of the investment a writer has to put into their work; and selfishly, if they can write one book I like, the likelihood is that they can write many more. I'd like to see that happen. I'm not certain that everyone is like that though, which means that making a work available free should be to stimulate reviews to promote later sales of that work, or to seed for the other paid tomes in a series.

I have support for the second notion from an author friend who is far more market savvy than me. From whom, I have the advice that if you have a several books in a series it's advantageous to have the first one available for free.

Jim's point about getting readers to the book's page is a sensible one. Depending on circumstances there may be better investments for an author than making their book free. Advertising might let readers know that the author exists and for that first book, amongst so many free books, it might then at least get a look in.

message 18: by Adam (new)

Adam (adammannan) | 133 comments Having an editor you can work with and trust whilst being a professional Indie, is highly desirably. However, for fledgling writers, in tentative financial situations with a family to support and undergoing the transition to this craft I see it as economically unfeasible. Some brilliant writers emerge out of poverty, I wouldn't like to see another tool of discrimination against them getting their work out.

message 19: by Alex (new)

Alex James (alexjames) | 15 comments I have read three FREE ebooks recently. All three have had great storylines. One of them had a few typos in, but it wasn't enough to make me stop reading the book; it was just a bit irritating. I'm surprised that some free ebooks are not of a high quality. I suppose I have been lucky enough not to encounter them.

Yes I see Adam's point. I would feel a tiny bit guilty giving my book for free when there have been readers who have paid to read it.

Most books I have read recently have been freebies. And yet I don't sell my book for free...

message 20: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments I have run a couple of free promos on Amazon for book 1 - one shortly before a BOM vote here, and I have given SW vouchers for that. I think if it is likely to be read and reviewed then it is worth it.

Would I do it again? Yes for the SW voucher, Amazon I am not sure. It is nice to see all the shiny numbers on your "sales" log but I am well aware most won't be read.

Not all indies can afford an editor, and I got into an argument a while ago about "saving up" or getting rid of an I-phone. In that particular case the poster was making a lot of assumptions - I don't have an i-phone, my mobile is a handmedown paid for my someone else, I don't go out much and I don't have much in savings. What I do have will be going towards buying a house. I simply cannot afford it, as much as I would like too.

It is certainly the case an editor does not guarantee a good book, or even a typo/mistake free one, a lot of trad pubbed books have errors or badly written. I do agree an editor IS useful if you can afford it but doesn't have to stop a good author if they don't.

I think at the end of the day it is an author's choice.

message 21: by Guy (new)

Guy Portman (guyportman) Whatever works for you I guess. It is certainly a potential way of finding new readers. With so many authors utilising KDP Select on Amazon it does not appear to be the marketing tool it was in the past. I haven't tried it for my book. In a world where everything costs money I am more than happy as a consumer to get anything I can for free, including books. If I don't like them I won't read them.

message 22: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Oh yes I do think it is not the tool it used to be.

message 23: by Karen (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments I don't do 'free' for my books. I have costs to cover -notably the (tax deductible) editor/proofreader. I'm happy to pitch the books at an affordable price and offer lots of freebie craft stuff. As a keen reader I don't download many free titles these days. It's such a competitive market, I'd rather go for something that the author values too.

Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments i only download freebies from our authors now.
wish it was easier to permanently delete the trash i download during my freebie frenzy days...

message 25: by R.M.F. (new)

R.M.F. Brown | 4128 comments I'm sitting on the fence for this, but I will say that for all the free promos I've had (1000 copies given away) I've yet to have a review back, good or bad.

message 26: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments I had a couple but it may be more I times it with a BOM. Remember though people don't always read a book as soon as they get it, I know I don't. A review which shows up in 6 months the author might not realise is from a free promo, and the reader doesn't always say.

message 27: by Bo (new)

Bo Brennan | 51 comments I published my debut novel at the end of May and ran a free promo for 2 days. Had well over 1000 downloads and reached the top 100 freebies across the board,even made the top 20 in a couple of places. For me as an unknown author that was pretty awesome exposure!

message 28: by Joo (new)

Joo (jooo) | 1636 comments R.M.F wrote: "I'm sitting on the fence for this, but I will say that for all the free promos I've had (1000 copies given away) I've yet to have a review back, good or bad."

Don't you actually read your reviews?

I'm not sure why I picked this up, nor why I started reading it, but there was something about it that drew me to it once I'd downloaded it on a freebie day.

Two teenagers are caught up in WW2 in Germany trying to cope in a bombed out village in the cold wet wintertime.

The descriptions of their pitiful lives were very vivid. I felt cold to the bone just reading it and wondering how I would cope being cold and wet all the time, whilst being cosy indoors in this, the second coldest March on record.

The secret was very unexpected and brought a different perspective to the story. It certainly made me think.

I found this to be well written and did enjoy it and was thinking about bits of it much later.

message 29: by R.M.F. (new)

R.M.F. Brown | 4128 comments Joo The Grand Inquisitor wrote: "R.M.F wrote: "I'm sitting on the fence for this, but I will say that for all the free promos I've had (1000 copies given away) I've yet to have a review back, good or bad."

Don't you actually read..."

My apologies. I'm that used to not having reviews, I never checked for months, now I've got a few! :)

message 30: by Russell (new)

Russell Brooks (russellbrooks) As an author, freebies helped me in the beginning. However as time went on and freebies became more popular, they've done more harm to me than good. Why? My theory is that they've become the norm, and more and more consumers are being conditioned to them to the point that they're overloading their e-readers. As a result, fewer books are being read due to an increasing backlog. With fewer books being read, there's less word-of-mouth, and less chance of an author being discovered.

From now on I'll stop giving away my books. The lowest I'll go is 99 cents. Why? In my opinion readers are more likely to read a book when they pay for it. And a book that's being read is a win-win situation for both the reader and for the author.

Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments I don't think fewer books are being read. I think more books are being read.

We just have a larger to be read pile, is all, which makes us less likely to buy new releases as they come out.

I think many of us are waiting to see if a new release is going to be made free before we grab them, as well.

message 32: by Preston (new)

Preston Randall I was told offering free books for a short time would help boost my profile and lead to additional sales. So I tried it a couple of times and my anecdotal conclusion is it doesn't really work (at least for me). It was successful in the sense that about 350 downloads occurred over a few days, but I think I received only 3 reviews from the entire group, of which 2 complained that they expected a longer book. Once the books went back "on sale" I saw no evidence of an increase in sales from previous levels (those previous levels being close to zero).

message 33: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments It seems to work for people if they put the first book on free offer when they bring the second out. Stirs up a bit of interest.

message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments When you read the discussions what has struck me is that you often get comments along the lines of "I did it and it worked" as opposed to "I'm doing it now and nothing is happening."
Things are changing so quickly now I wonder whether the free book 'market' is saturated.
People have, if they want, Kindles full of free books.

Jay-me (Janet)  | 4325 comments Patti (Beach Bunny) wrote: "I don't think fewer books are being read. I think more books are being read.

We just have a larger to be read pile, is all, which makes us less likely to buy new releases as they come out.

I thin..."

Ignite wrote: "It seems to work for people if they put the first book on free offer when they bring the second out. Stirs up a bit of interest."

I have downloaded free books - & have read a lot of them. This has led me to more books by the same authors which I have then paid for. So my TBR & wish list are full of these second and third books now, with a decreasing number of the free books by authors that I haven't yet sampled.

The reason they are on my wishlist rather than already on my kindle TBR is because I limit my spending per month, books that are above what I would pay for a book stay waiting for price-drops (there are some that catch my eye that are in the £6 - £10 range) others are bought when I have the funds. It depends how much the new release appeals to me whether it leapfrogs others on my wishlist - and what I am reading at the moment.

message 36: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Walsh As a reader I don't download a book purely based on price. However, if a book is free or below £2.99 with a rating of 3 and over, I am more likely to download It. If I enjoy that book I try to leave a review, tell friends and look to buy more from the same author. I have always been in a believer that the author should benefit financially if I enjoy their work.

message 37: by Kate (new)

Kate Baggott (httpswwwgoodreadscomkate_baggott) | 104 comments I don't read books just because they are free and I value my own work too much to give my own book away for free. Right now, I'm trying a little contest in which I will give away exactly one download, but it still feels like a huge compromise.

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments I must admit I heard this song and thought of this thread :-)

message 39: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Here is the first of the articles.

message 40: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments And here is the second - authors...

message 41: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments I think this is worth reading in conjunction with the others

Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Hmmm

Perhaps I should start charging for author threads.

By the rasher. ;)

message 43: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Interesting article.

message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments That's what I thought but I'm keeping stum until I've restocked with bacon

message 45: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Boutros | 12 comments If I may join the discussion: last year I was having very little success getting any sales for my self-published novel, The Guilty, even though those who did read and review it gave it generally high marks. After lots of reading about other people's experiences I decided to run a three-day free Kindle download promotion in late August. I publicized the promo heavily, although only on sites that advertised such things for free, and got well over 10,000 downloads. Obviously, I would have loved to get the royalties from 10,000 book sales, but just as obviously there was little likelihood that I'd ever actually sell that many copies. On the other hand, right after the promo ended I did see a serious spike in book sales which lasted several weeks. I also received several new reviews both on Amazon and Goodreads, which I believe I would never have gotten if so many strangers hadn't read my book. So what is the upshot of this experience for me?
1) Thousands of people who may have never heard of me or my book now have a copy (albeit electronic)of my novel in their hands. That, in itself, is a pretty mind-blowing thought for a writer struggling to get noticed in a huge market.
2) Hundreds of people have now paid for my book that may not have done so before, so I have definitely made money on the deal, considering this promo cost me absolutely nothing.
3) I now have many more reviews, for the most past positive, both on Amazon and Goodreads, which will hopefully continue to attract the interest of future readers who will have the opinions of several people to help them decide if they wish to buy my book.
So, put me down as a definite "yes" for the freebie side of the argument. On the other hand, I say that with the knowledge that the spike in sales, encouraging as it was, was temporary, dwindling gradually over about a three-month period. But the more people who have the book in their hands, the more chance there is that they will mention it to a friend, etc, so even if a free promo did not lead to miraculous success, it certainly had positive results for me.

message 46: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Interesting to see someone who has had some success with this.

message 47: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21716 comments I wonder if genre and your place within it helps. Looking at Gabriel's book it strikes me as a very authoritative 'whodunnit', detective/legal fiction written from the inside. I'd have thought that that alone should mean that those who are keen on the genre would grab it with both hands during a free period.
He's not just written 'yet another' fantasy or SF yarn.
That might help explain the success.

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