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When "free" sorts the professional writers from the amateurs

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message 1: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Austin Briggs says on Kindleboards: "Personally, I'm afraid of offering my books for free. I do send free review copies, and run limited giveaways, but offering blanket free downloads... can't muster the inner strength. Maybe never will."

This raises the question, Why not?

It's standard practice in traditional publishing that review copies are free.

Nor do reviewers in the quality press even bother to mention that they received their review copy free of charge; everyone knows it.

Nor do professional writers charge colleagues for copies.

All of these things are the marks of amateurs.

The one thing that isn't the mark of an amateur is being brave enough to give away lots of free copies in inventive ways in order to gain name recognition.

Suck it up, Austin! We're standing right behind you.

You can see the bunfight this will start at
When "free" sorts the professional writers from the amateurs
ttp://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,...


message 2: by James (new)

James Everington | 187 comments Surely what's 'professional' is to pick your pricing points (inc free) for all your books based on some long term strategy.

And yes review copies souls always be free, as Andre says.


message 3: by Andre Jute (last edited Nov 17, 2011 01:46PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
James wrote: "Surely what's 'professional' is to pick your pricing points (inc free) for all your books based on some long term strategy."

Doesn't seem to me that there's an argument here, James. We're discussing the tactics within your strategy, in this particular case when the current part of the strategy is building name recognition.


message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments I'm not all that sure that in the current market, free books necessarily lead to name recognition, Andre. I've had so many people tell me that they downloaded this free book and that free book, but they'll probably never get around to reading them because they have so many. So giving away a book might just mean going from anonymity on the net, to anonymity on a thousand kindles.


message 5: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Ouch, Katie, you want to watch that turn of phrase, it could be hurtful with those of less armoured skin than the old campaigners on ROBUST: "...giving away a book might just mean going from anonymity on the net, to anonymity on a thousand Kindles."

It's a frightening possibility, because there are many reports of advertising not working well, and some people don't have the money for advertising anyway, and an amazing number of indies appear not to have the necessary writing skill to run an interesting blog or contribute something notable to a discussion group, so the only promotional thing many can do is offer their book cheap or free.


message 6: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
An online book group I belong to seems to be doing what you suggest Katie, downloading everything and anything that is free. Reading those free ebooks however is going to need time that just isn't there always. I agree with you that the possibility of going from being anonymous online to being anonymous on someone's ereader is a bigger possibility than you would normally think.

Without at least one book being free or costing practically nothing, many would not have anything else to show for writing a book. In the last few months I have downloaded free books from authors that I have subsequently bought ebooks from. Having books free, for me, has worked. Others, maybe not so much. In fact, I prefer a free download over a sample anyday.


message 7: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Ouch, Katie, you want to watch that turn of phrase, it could be hurtful with those of less armoured skin than the old campaigners on ROBUST: "...giving away a book might just mean going from anonym..."

Andre, this is me talking...the famous author who has sold the huge total of two books this month, despite the new cover and new blurb that were going to see me rise to new heights. Anonymity on two kindles for me!


message 8: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Two is better than none.


message 9: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Claudine wrote: "Two is better than none."

True, and I guess if they forked out the $2.99 for the book, they might read it. That was one of the reasons I put the price up. Even at 99c, people seem to download books with little intention of reading.

I met a writer a while ago who has put her book out free from the start and had given away over a thousand copies in a couple of months. Her attitude was that she was happy to watch what journey her book took. I wish I could be that laid back. But her book was over 200k long, so it would be interesting to know how many of those 1000 have actually read it.


message 10: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Probably a handful, depending on the genre.


message 11: by Andre Jute (last edited Nov 17, 2011 01:43PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I've found it's hard to give books away without going free on Amazon.

However, the harder it is to give books away free, the more likely you are to get reviews.

When I gave away books one by one on Amazon, to the running interference of the bookburners there, I got lots of reviews, probably a 70% review rate. When we gave away THE MEYERSCO HELIX by Andrew McCoy, clearly a book that should be much more popular, only 43 people asked for it, out of which two reviews arrived. There's a clear discrepancy here.


message 12: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments I tend to agree with Katie. But then again, my sales are bleak to say the least.

S'funny, all my life I have naturally 'branded' myself by being out there in my communities. I've had people I don't know in two cities come up to me on the street or in the supermarket and gush as if I were famous.

But I am befuddled by the task of branding myself as the author of my book. It's a good book and I believe in it, but it is niche and thus far I have been stumped in finding the communities that may embrace it.

So I have decided to look to the past and be out there in the communities I enjoy in hopes one day something will come of it...


message 13: by K.A. (last edited Nov 17, 2011 10:40AM) (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments Katie wrote: "Andre, this is me talking...the famous author who has sold the huge total of two books this month, despite the new cover and new blurb that were going to see me rise to new heights. Anonymity on two kindles for me!

Love it, Katie! I sold 2 books this month as well.

However, I'm struggling to get my short story out for free. Since Sharon copy-edited I've got to give Meatgrinder another shot! (shudder, shudder.)

I can see giving away a sample - However, it makes me crazy to have to wait 6 months to know what happened. (arrggg!!)


message 14: by James (new)

James Everington | 187 comments Andre Jute wrote: "James wrote: "Surely what's 'professional' is to pick your pricing points (inc free) for all your books based on some long term strategy."

Doesn't seem to me that there's an argument here, James. ..."


I was arguing against the person you quoted, not you Andre...

Oh and in the spirit of this thread, my short story First Time Buyers is free on Smashwords as we speak...

I'm likewise wondering how many of the downloaders have actually read it, and even more pertinently, how many will go on to buy The Other Room (where it is taken from).


message 15: by Sharon (last edited Nov 17, 2011 02:43PM) (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments Sorry, Kat, :). There were so few errors, though, that I wouldn't be too stressed about it...

ps, everyone. I liked the story and want to read more. Should make for a great serial...


message 16: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
It would probably help if Amazon treated the indies even-steven with trad publishers and allowed them to make their books free on request. No one could complain if Amazon, which is in the business of selling books, set limits, say not free more often than six times a year, nor free for longer than six months in any year. But the present "arrangement", where the indies have to game the system twice because of Amazon's rules, is simply silly.


message 17: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I take issue with the term "bunfight." How about "croissant fight" instead, or "profiterole fight"?

Making a book free is really a gamble. The main problem I've found with it is that it attracts people who normally wouldn't read in that particular genre. That can result in some odd and unwanted reviews. I gave my Hawk book away for free back in the summer. It was downloaded about 15,000 times before I recaptured it. While I gained a fair number of good reviews out of that, I also got some real deadweights. The sales effect on my other books was negligible. If I had to do it again, I would not choose the blanket free route. Targeted free, yes.


message 18: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments "Viennoiserie fight," that's a good one, or "strudel fight."


message 19: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Beard (jabeard) When I publish, I plan to just do a lot of hand giveaways in targeted groups. I'm already involved in a lot of genre-related groups here at GR. A lot of them seem to welcome free books provided you're actually an active member of their community.


message 20: by Andre Jute (last edited Nov 18, 2011 02:50PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
A "viennoiserie fight", my dear Christopher, is not conducted with pastries but with contraltos when the lead at the Opera goes down with strep throat and the understudy makes a success in her role... Glass will shatter!

I once set a snow record that still stands over the Alps from Rome to Vienna in a Jensen FF when a friend, who was with the Staatsoper, and two of her mates were caught with me in Rome just when the !@£$%^&* air traffic controllers went on strike. They could not afford to miss curtain-up, to give their understudies the slightest chance. It must have been a frightening ride for them but they kept up their spirits singing, their voices rising above the off-beat scream of the huge Chrysler V8 under the bonnet. It was the best private concert I ever attended.


message 21: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments Sorry - 'Bonnet' makes me think of a baby wearing those cute little lace caps!


message 22: by Mhairi (new)

Mhairi Simpson (mhairisimpson) | 21 comments Hahahahaha That's brilliant, Andre!


message 23: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I give up on you, Kat. The bonnet of a car is what Americans call the hood.

We aim to entertain, Mhairi!


message 24: by Ardyth (new)

Ardyth DeBruyn | 33 comments At first I didn't really like the idea of putting up free books, but at this point after reading a lot more discussions on it, I'm considering trying to put up a shorter story for free... that said, I still am skeptical it will work, since lots of people download without reading. It might get me some reviews though.

Now review copies for free, that just seems a given.


message 25: by Matt (new)

Matt Posner (mattposner) | 276 comments I don't think it's that easy anymore for indies to make books free at amazon. They are apparently catching on to the "free at smashwords" trick and deciding to block it. (I saw that somewhere, I think in a link at my "Writing Kindle Books" Facebook group.) But of course we have to give away review copies. I give away lots of those.

I have also heard that advertising doesn't work. I can't afford it anyway, but if I could get some money, I wouldn't spend it on advertising. It's a guaranteed loss. Word of mouth sells. People are very resistant to advertising but they listen to their friends.


message 26: by Amos (new)

Amos Fairchild (amostfairchild) | 305 comments The free strategy seems to work for me... Although November was very quiet. I do a lot of codes, some give-aways, stuff like that. Having series helps of course. Maybe things will pick up again this month, I was too busy writing last month. I'd probably sell more if I didn't write crap, but I do okay. lol.


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