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Writing > Should Christian books be free?

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message 1: by M. (last edited Feb 26, 2012 03:27AM) (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments I was very much inspired by Keith Green, he was a bit of a hippy, but he was a man of God and sold his music for free to anyone who wanted it, breaking all ideas for making money from the gifts that God gave. I have been thinking about giving away free books, free to download, free in shops, as many as I can afford, but I have done nothing yet. I was wondering what other Christian writers feel about the topic?


message 2: by John (new)

John (pastor) | 4 comments That is admirable and I for one love to give where the need is. I might take my books and sell them at some event—say a conference—and give the receipts to those in need. This is like taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots. If I were rich I would be giving books away to those I knew would read them. Just a thought. Keith Green was OK in 'my book.'


message 3: by M. (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments Well Keith Green started off penniless! But the more he gave, the more he recieved, the more he recieved, the more he gave!
I am not rich, I am jobless, I have come to have no love for money, but I started writing originally in the hope that I may one day make money from it, but now I feel differently...


message 4: by Gregory (last edited Feb 28, 2012 08:09AM) (new)

Gregory Booker (goodreadscomgreg_booker) | 14 comments Don't know anything about Keith Green but admirable of him to do what he did. For the record, I have given away more of my books than been paid for them. For those that paid they were able to give knowing it has a cost and in support of the message going forth. For those that did not was because I did not require it. Even though some paid later willingly for the blessing they received from it.

My DeskTop published copies were given free. However, formal self-published books with their marketing expenses can be at significant cost including you having to buy your own books. The real issue isn't giving away free books but what about those who are blessed by God financially. Shouldn't they be willing to support good writers who blessed them in support of such "book ministry" to advance the good news?

To me, there are no sure formula as to approach because "success" for lack of better word can come in many ways. If Christ is in it, God will make it to prosper but it don't mean you will be rich only that the lives of others will be enriched and that is the focus. My primary purpose for publishing isn't to make money but to gain access to a wider audience that simply can't be achieved any other way and yes it comes at a cost. That's my sacrifice and faith working together and I am blessed already...the rest is just cream on the cake God willing.

To answer Cesar, do what your heart feels is best for you and continue to pray on it. Free is good...being blessed financially is good also. Let's be honest it has worked both ways with a good heart. Personally, I am not very good at copycating others because behind the scenes situations can be so different.


message 5: by Nike (last edited Mar 02, 2012 11:48PM) (new)

Nike Chillemi Cesar wrote: "I was very much inspired by Keith Green, he was a bit of a hippy, but he was a man of God and sold his music for free to anyone who wanted it, breaking all ideas for making money from the gifts tha..."

Keith Green had a unique calling. He was not your run of the mill believer. He gave a lot of his music talent away. But, he did also sell his music and do concerts and he made a living at it. He had a wife and a family to support. And God called him to do that too. But there's no doubt he was very giving.

The Word also says a worker is worth their hire (pay). Are writers workers? I think yes.

I bothers me that so many Christian readers seems to want free books. I'm talking regular people in the pews with good jobs who can afford to eat out and go on vacations.

There is no get rich quick way out there for authors...Christian or gen market. I think some freebies have to be given. But IMO, it cheapens the work to be constantly hawking the idea God gave to the author to write.

If God gave the idea to the author, why is it being hawked over and over in contests? If readers believe that God gave the ideas for these books...and they're good reads (pardon the pun) then why aren't Christian readers buying them?

I know some can't afford it. When I know somebody can't afford my novel, I send them a pdf. I did that not long ago with an elderly pastor's wife. And that's a totally other topic that galls me. Elderly retired pastors and their wives at the povety line. No pension, small social security checks. Grrrr

I do some contests. They're fun. But It's mind numbing to have every single Christian blog w/a contest.


message 6: by Ted (new)

Ted Adamson (tedw) | 3 comments Cesar wrote: "I was very much inspired by Keith Green, he was a bit of a hippy, but he was a man of God and sold his music for free to anyone who wanted it, breaking all ideas for making money from the gifts tha..."

Sometimes


message 7: by Vondraya (last edited Mar 04, 2012 07:08AM) (new)

Vondraya I most often pay for my books. If someone gifts me then I feel blessed indeed.

I've purchased Christian fiction and gifted others. Have also purchased Christian music CDs and given them for Christmas and such. That's a great way to evangelize, BTW. If you know someone who's fallen away, give them a Christian novel or music CD.

I also get a little disconcerted by all the "contests" on all the Christian fiction sites. It feels very much like a carnival atmosphere...because it's not really free. They're hoping the contest will generate sales.

I think Keith Green gave in a different spirit.

I also think one has to be called to give so sacrificially like that. I don't expect every author and every singer to give like that. A man is worth of his hire.


message 8: by Cliff (new)

Cliff Ball (cliffball) | 17 comments I don't mind as a writer gifting books or giving away ebook copies for free, especially since I'm starting out, but I'm trying to make a living out of this. Giving away all my books for free wouldn't be the best decision financially, but sometimes you do what you think God wants from you.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2012 06:31AM) (new)

As an author - give me one good reason why any book should be free? Having a promotion where the prize is a 'free' book is one thing, but readers expecting books to be free is tantamount to robbery, in my opinion. Consumers don't expect retailers or restaurants to give away food or merchandise, so why are authors now expected to do so?

I worked hard to write my books, using the talent and intelligence God gave me. Don't misunderstand, if God so leads me to give a certain amount of books away, I will. However, to do so because readers have become conditioned by Kindle Select or captivated by someone else is giving books away, is wrong.

How would you feel if someone demanded you give your product or service away for free since So-and-So down the street is? That is the atmosphere we authors are faced with on a daily basis. If anything, Christian readers should be supporting Christian authors with purchases and word of mouth. For after all, if we didn't write as God leads, there wouldn't be books for Christians to read.


message 10: by M. (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments I understand and agree with your statements, but what if God guided you to write a book thats sole purpose was to give the message on to all who could read it... that would be like John the Baptist standing up and saying "ok give me some money folks and I'll tell you about the coming Messiah"
I agree that a lot of work and effort goes into writing and editing a book (I am an author myself), but I feel guided to give my books away! Its crazy maybe, but its something thats floating around in my head


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I said, if I felt led by God to do so, I would. And I have given away free copies to teachers, schools, churches, etc.

But it should not be expected or demanded by readers, rather from the author's heart, led by God.


message 12: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Cliff wrote: "I don't mind as a writer gifting books or giving away ebook copies for free, especially since I'm starting out, but I'm trying to make a living out of this. Giving away all my books for free wouldn..."

I'm offering a prayer that you'll be able to make a living at it. :)


message 13: by Nike (last edited Mar 06, 2012 10:38AM) (new)

Nike Chillemi Shawn wrote: "As an author - give me one good reason why any book should be free? Having a promotion where the prize is a 'free' book is one thing, but readers expecting books to be free is tantamount to robber..."

Shawn, I wonder why Christians want their books for free? If their dentist is a Christian do they want their dental work for free?

God has led me to give e-books away and I've done as He asked.

But for people who have the resources to pay for a book to expect the author to give it away is harsh. I know quite a few authors who are struggling financially and that the people who are asking for the free books are much better off financially. What's that about?

All my books are in ebook format, but I have author friends who have books in pring and they're shocked at the number of people who say to them, "Oh, you'll have to give me an autographed copy." Well, to do that they first have to pay the publisher for the book. The author isn't really giving it away free. The author is paying for it to gift to a reader. The author has to pay the publisher for the book in order to give it away.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Agree, Nike. It is an attitude I find puzzling, and not just among Christians, but among all readers - to expect authors to give their books away!

Bloggers offer to review my books, if I give them a free copy. Heaven forbid, if I suggest they buy a copy. Notice the increase of bloggers who do reviews?

This 'free' download culture is causing many problems, almost bordering on 'entitlement'. This may sound harsh, but people like Keith Green, Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin who promote 'free' books and such, hurt all authors by perpetuating the image. They can afford to give away books, I can't.


message 15: by Cliff (new)

Cliff Ball (cliffball) | 17 comments Nike wrote: "I'm offering a prayer that you'll be able to make a living at it. :) "

Thanks, that's really nice of you.


message 16: by Cliff (last edited Mar 06, 2012 12:32PM) (new)

Cliff Ball (cliffball) | 17 comments Shawn wrote: "Agree, Nike. It is an attitude I find puzzling, and not just among Christians, but among all readers - to expect authors to give their books away!

Bloggers offer to review my books, if I give them..."


I recently had my old Sunday School teacher friend me on Facebook, saw that I have books, and immediately gave me his address so I can send him a paperback copy. I tried offering a coupon to D/L from Smashwords for free, but he said he doesn't read ebooks.

I had an extra copy available at my house, so not really a big deal. But makes me wonder why people think getting a paperback copy from the author is no problem for the author? We have to pay for copies, it takes about a week to come in the mail, then we get to pay for more postage, and send it out to them. Sure, we have to spend money to make money, but this can turn into a big ol' black hole if you're not careful.


message 17: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2012 01:34PM) (new)

In many ways we are already in a black hole, Cliff. Authors need to tote the line. We act with compassion when directed by God, but also gently remind readers and fellow Christian, this is our business.

One problem I've encountered lately is Christians tossing about the word 'ministry' in reference to my writing. As if it is some invoking word that entitles them to my books for free. Can I or others use them to witness with Biblical themes in my stories? Certainly. But my books are not a ministry by Biblical definition. It is my profession.


message 18: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Cliff wrote: "Shawn wrote: "Agree, Nike. It is an attitude I find puzzling, and not just among Christians, but among all readers - to expect authors to give their books away!

Bloggers offer to review my books, ..."


Not to mention the author has to go to the post office and stand on line and mail it.

These people who know the author are the very ones who should be purchasing the novel to help the kid in their Sunday school class make it. I mostly read crime ficiton and I don't purchase books that I'm not going to read. But if I have a friend who's written a really good romance or fantasy...there's Christmas, Mother's and Father's Day, birthdays. I often give a book or two as a gift.


message 19: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Shawn wrote: "In many ways we are already in a black hole, Cliff. Authors need to tote the line. We act with compassion when directed by God, but also gently remind readers and fellow Christian, this is our busi..."

Even if it were your ministry...a ministry has to be supported.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Nike wrote: These people who know the author are the very ones who should be purchasing the novel to help the kid in their Sunday school class make it. "

With the exception of a great husband and daughter who are instrumental in helping me, I'm finding the opposite. It's almost like the old saying "familiarity breeds contempt". Not that I'm looked down upon, but mostly the attitude I stated about ministry,which includes the trite"great job" "continuing doing what God's called you to do." Very few purchases have come by way of church or extended family.


message 21: by Nike (last edited Mar 07, 2012 12:53PM) (new)

Nike Chillemi Shawn wrote: "Nike wrote: These people who know the author are the very ones who should be purchasing the novel to help the kid in their Sunday school class make it. "

With the exception of a great husband and ..."


I have a wonderful cousin out in LA who purchased my first novel and he and his wife read it. But nobody else in my family. Our church disbanded and moved to Manhattan from the outer boroughs of NYC. I'm in a new church and don't know how my writing w/be received.

Mostly I've had to market really hard, put a lot of time and sweat into it. Taken time away from my family. Had to spend money on take out and pizza when deadline approached. So, when people suggest I should give my books away...in a way I'm saying this is taking money away from my husband and my child. My husband works very hard. Puts in long hours so I can write. And these people want me to give them a book...and they've got good jobs. What?

Now, I've been called by God to give my novel away. Usually it's been to folks who are having a really bad time financially.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Indeed, if someone is brought to my attention and God moves, I will give copies away. But like you, I spend money on purchasing copies, going to events, traveling, promotional material, so I'm not simply going to give everything away.

Readers need to understand, there is a balance between business and giveaways.


message 23: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 11 comments As someone of faith, I would not want to receive free books, just because I am someone of faith - whatever that faith might be.

Patricia


message 24: by M. (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments so what you are all saying is, don't give away my book for free, unless its to someone who perhaps can't afford it... or if God leads me to help out a certain person

what about option 2 > making it free to read online (but not downloadable) ???


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, Cesar, you understand what we are saying in regards to giving away books.

NO! she said emphatically to option 2. It is too tempting for people to steal (piracy). Anyone can 'copy' text on a screen without the ability to download, just highlight and hit 'copy' then paste to a document. Even when a book is converted to e-book form it needs to have DRM (Digital Rights Management) to help prevent piracy.

So whatever you put on the web, be ready to give it up. Be careful with books, stories, poems or any intellectual property. Yes, I put excerpts on my website, but only of books that are in print and I have the copyright, so anyone who dares to use any portion without permission can be sued.


message 26: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Cesar wrote: "so what you are all saying is, don't give away my book for free, unless its to someone who perhaps can't afford it... or if God leads me to help out a certain person

what about option 2 > making..."


Cesar, As in everything else, I'd urge you to pray and seek God on where and to whom he wants you to give free books.

As to online reading. I put lots of excerpts up. I often put the first chapter up online. I think it's my responsibility to allow readers to decide if they want to spend their hard earned dollars on my book. Not everyone will. And that's not to say they'll think ill of my book. It just might not be their cup of tea.

So, I do have an excerpt up for each book on my author page at my publishing house. I have posted excerpts on my blog. I've posted excerpts when I guest blog.

I've never put the entire novel up for readers to read online.


message 27: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Chamberlain (andychamberlain) | 4 comments Anyone who writes for publication can have a reasonable expectation that their work is paid for. The 'norm' should be that someone's writing is valuable; if they are called to give it away in some form that is a separate issue.

The flip side of this, of course, is that the work needs to be good enough for someone to actually pay money for it. There's a lot of stuff out there that ends up being free because no one would pay for it if it cost money! It's not enough for an author to work (even work hard!) to get their work completed and out there, if it's not good enough to be paid for, it may not be any good.


message 28: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Andrew wrote: "Anyone who writes for publication can have a reasonable expectation that their work is paid for. The 'norm' should be that someone's writing is valuable; if they are called to give it away in some ..."

Agreed that some of what's out there has to be given away.

But there is also an expectation that Christian authors, even the best of them, should be giving books away.


message 29: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Booker (goodreadscomgreg_booker) | 14 comments Christian books minister to others as well as preachers and teachers do from the pulpit. Do pastors and teachers pay the congregation to hear them speak...no they don't. Usually a visiting speaker charges a fee or expects a goodwill offering but free is unheard of. Authors incur costs and should be able to access a fee of their choice without feeling guilty. I disagree that they should be giving books away free. What we as authors should not do is hold back our ministering to others because they did not buy the book. I feel giving books free is an option not an mandate. And as a christian, I would never hold it against an author if he did not give me a free book. That's like demanding a gift and how selfish would that be unless of course it was my birthday :)!


message 30: by Heather (new)

Heather Bixler (heatherdbixler) I truly believe how your price your books, even if you are considering giving it away for free, needs to be something that is prayed about and taken up with God. I have my own personal ideas of how much my books should be priced, but keep them at a price I think God wants me to, and I feel I know the reasons why too.

I also give away my eBooks and have given more than were ever paid for.

I don't think there is anything wrong with selling your books either, and I think a lot of times Christians may feel guilty for charging so they give them away for free.

I also know that the more money we make the more we can give to furthering His kingdom...I don't think there is anything wrong with Christians selling their work.


:)


message 31: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Heather wrote: "I truly believe how your price your books, even if you are considering giving it away for free, needs to be something that is prayed about and taken up with God. I have my own personal ideas of ho..."

I agree. For most of us God has given us the story and has guided us through the writing. I'm sure He'll show us how to price and market the novel.

I don't think guilt should be involved in any way in an author's creative process. Or fear.

When we give a book away it should be from an feeling of blessing the individual who we're giving the book to. That person doesn't need our guilt.

But we have to be honest. All the "freebies" in contests are not done in the spirit of giving, but with the hope that they will ultimately sell more books. It's a selling technique.


message 32: by M. (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments Hi Diane, just out of curiosity, how have you spent thousands on writing and still remain published? Its great that you support Christian writers :)

I almost always buy online myself, best place for paper books I think is Bookdepository, cuz they do free delivery.

What happens with a lot of publishers is that they control the pricing on the online stores, but the revolution is here where authors can upload their own books, and generally earn more royalties that way too!


message 33: by M. (new)

Cesar M. | 21 comments Hi Diane, I am sure that my skills need improving but I am striving to improve them with experience... its been many years since I was at school, my spelling and grammar are fine, but its a different level needed for writing a book. But I find ways around it. If someone has something negative to say about my writing I won't listen (more often than not they are just saying negative things in order to promote their services such as editing and publishing etc) but I do listen to constructive criticism as that is very helpful.
My first two books are in quite rare genres, the first is prophecy, the second is christian poetry.


message 34: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Diane wrote: "I'm unpublished but to date have spent thousands on my writing hobby. I'm new to Goodreads but am learning a lot from writers and readers as I look around. Oh, and I want to add this--As a reader, ..."

Diane, I also have purchased 99% of my books. I won one novel in a blog contest. A few friends have sent me their novels. I've been a judge in several literary contests and have gotten those books free. I love garage sales and alwys look at the books first. We used to worship at the Salvation Army and I'll always check out their books.

Still, I purchase most of the new releases that I read. I'd never think to ask for a free book. I don't expect a free book, unless I'm judging a contest becasue then I might have to read a book I wouldn't ordinarily purchase.


message 35: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Another thought on this subject.

Christian books aren't free and can't be free. Somebody has to pay for them. The paper is not free, the publishing process is not free. The trucks that take them to the brick and mortar stores are not free.

The questions is who pays the costs?


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Gregory wrote: "Christian books minister to others as well as preachers and teachers do from the pulpit. Do pastors and teachers pay the congregation to hear them speak...no they don't. Usually a visiting speake..."

I disagree, Gregory, pastors "do" except their congregations to pay them via tithes and offerings. In fact, society has changed the calling of the pastor into a profession. Yes, Scripture says a preacher is worthy of double honor - payment, but it's a calling not a profession.

Paul modeled the life of pastor by 'paying' for what he ate from his hosts and worked at his profession of being a tent-maker. 2 Thes. 3:8-9

I owe my pastor honor and respect, and help in time of need - but it is not my responsibility to support his family, that is his responsibility according to Scripture.


message 37: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi Shawn wrote: "Gregory wrote: "Christian books minister to others as well as preachers and teachers do from the pulpit. Do pastors and teachers pay the congregation to hear them speak...no they don't. Usually a..."

The pastor has a collection to take in money to pay his salary and the expenses of the church. Very little is free.


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