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General > Offering Free stories?

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments I've heard about a number of authors who offer portions of their novel or entire stories for free through their website or blog. Not simply for promotion/marketing, but for the love of the craft and readership. Anyone here do this?

message 2: by Mia (new)

Mia Darien (mia_darien) | 425 comments *raises hand* I sort of did that. I released several short stories for free just because I wanted them to be read and enjoyed. I did it through Smashwords, rather than my website.

I released the first book in my series free, to be enjoyed but also partly in the hopes it would draw people to read future Adelheid stories. I also have an Adelheid short story available exclusively to people who sign up for my newsletter, just as a Thank You.

So, yeah, I've done that with some of my stuff.

message 3: by Edwin (new)

Edwin Stark It works to get the word out there...
My short story The Recycling Kid is distributed for free on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. It is part of my short story collection Cuentos and has been downloaded more than 2000 copies during the last 6 weeks. Yet it's too early to determine what the outcome will be; people just get a copy and then forget about it in their PCs and E-readers. But at least I got some neat reviews along the way.

message 4: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Did that, too. My first full-length book is available free of charge everywhere. It's been downloaded thousands and thousands of times. The plan was to drum up interest in my newly released 2nd book. I have to say, it worked beautifully! Book 2's sales have skyrocketed, blowing by every expectation I ever came up with! :)

Big J

message 5: by j g (new)

j g rees (goodreadscomj_g_rees) | 2 comments Hey - john g rees here, author of the 'anoxic zone/ Reuseable' series of horror books. Saw this thread and wanted to say that my newest, Black Tide, a freaquel to my first two books, anoxic zone and Halocline, will be available for free download on Kindle this Saturday.
BTW - you can also download the Kindle app for free!

message 6: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 56 comments I'm a bit sceptical about this. Whilst I understand offering an entire piece for the love of writing, I doubt that many extracts of longer books are free without agenda.

message 7: by Mia (new)

Mia Darien (mia_darien) | 425 comments Typically, I think if someone offers a piece of long fiction free, then the agenda is at least in part getting people interested in your writing in the hopes that they will buy the next book/s.

message 8: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments Sure, why not? The awareness/marketing element is always there to some degree. I just try not to be cynical about everything.

It can also be a way to offer something different or special at no charge to folks who keep tabs on your work and site/blog.

For example, right now I'm posting a series of short stories that have no connection to any book. Of course I hope it generates interest, but it allows me to develop material and put it out there for feedback and to be appreciated. I'm just glad for the opportunity. And the technology that lets me reach an audience.

message 9: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Well, speaking for myself, I am in total agreement with Mia. The hope is that when someone downloads my first book (free), they like what they read, they like my style of writing, and are thereby interested in obtaining the second book in the series (not free!).

I've received numerous reviews from people saying they found my book on Nook, or Kindle, read it and loved it, and was encouraged to buy the second.

I can't say that this method works for everyone, but it works beautifully for me!

Big J

message 10: by Mia (new)

Mia Darien (mia_darien) | 425 comments I've talked to other indie authors who've done it that way (first book free to encourage second book sales) and had it work, and I think it's doing well for me. Or at least better than if I hadn't done it that way.

It can be really hard for an indie author to attract readers, I think, because there still is a lot of bias against self-published work. Offering something free can be a way to overcome that, I think, so long as you're offering well written and well packed work in the first place.

Just my two cents, though. :)

message 11: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (L_E_Fitzpatrick) | 35 comments I did this until I enrolled in KDP Select. My time is nearly up with Select and so I am contemplating going back to me old ways, I write for pleasure rather than profit so income is an added bonus I can do without.

For the second, after a thread about how expensive books should be, I have reduced my book to $1.00 as a lot of people see "free books" as an author having a lack of confidence in his/her work.

I have total confidence in my work and all my faults, but I don't want to put potential readers off because of a price (which was $2.99).

This is my debut novel, but it is an epic book and probably too big to offer for free and be taken seriously (written with a frowny face).

As Mia has said it all comes down to the quality of an author's work and if the work is good the readers will come.

message 12: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 56 comments I'm wasn't suggestion that there's anything wrong with using free content to drive people to paid books - it's an excellent strategy, which I use all the time.

message 13: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments This raises another question, namely the price of eBooks. Did Amanda Hocking make .99 the magic number for wealth, fame and publishing house bidding wars?

Most e-versions of popular books are $9.99. Granted, indie books don't have the same name recognition/clout but I think in the long run you want your prices to be somewhat comparable and reflect its intrinsic quality.

message 14: by Mia (new)

Mia Darien (mia_darien) | 425 comments I have never equated price with quality. Perhaps because I've spent money on paperbacks and hard covers that I ended up thinking were awful.

Typically, for me, I equate price with length. Don't get me wrong, I love finding longer indie books I like that are cheaper but typically, I don't see 3.99 and think: oh, that book must be great! I think: oh, it must be long. And when I see a 40K word book at 4.99, I think... no. And when I see the Big Six publishing ebooks at 9.99? More than a paperback? I think: hell no.

Ebooks should be cheaper than paperbacks, I think, because they don't require the materials. Money for time and effort, naturally, but there's no paper, no ink and no shipping.

For my own pricing, I tend to follow general rules of digital publisher's pricing and then just price down a little since I don't have their over-head. At least, that's what seems fair in my head...

message 15: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 56 comments Interesting point about quality and length.

My shorter books are cheaper than my novels. However, I sometimes find that because other indie writers put novels up for 77p, people expect my 77p content to be 70,000 words.

message 16: by Mia (new)

Mia Darien (mia_darien) | 425 comments That is, unfortunately, the danger of authors pricing their own stuff. But then, you could find that anywhere since pricing isn't across the board. People can see lower prices at one publisher and expect others to be the same.

I think it all comes down to the writing, and if you have work that people are willing to try out and like, they'll generally be willing to pay a little more for the rest of your stuff because they like it.

message 17: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments "Perhaps because I've spent money on paperbacks and hard covers that I ended up thinking were awful."

Amen to that.

Someone once said "You get what you pay for - and less."

Actually we do equate price with quality. We're just very disappointed when it doesn't work out.

I tend to check comparable work, genre and length-wise, then price accordingly.

message 18: by Edwin (new)

Edwin Stark On pricing: I value my work as any seller of bologna does: by the pound... hence my book of short stories (45K-word) goes at US$ 2.99 and my 80 K novels go at US$ 3.99 ;P

message 19: by L.E. (new)

L.E. Fitzpatrick (L_E_Fitzpatrick) | 35 comments I also think a debut novel needs to be appealing to readers, maybe not free but given this is an introduction for an author into the publishing industry it is beneficial to have a lower price to hook your readers.

As is stated continually above quality will then sell the rest of your work for you.

message 20: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Glusing | 6 comments We just posted a short story I wrote over on Deviantart, and I have several stories I've put up on Facebook (FB). All of these detail backgrounds for the characters introduced in my books. Check them out if you get an opportunity.

Katrina of Ganalodel
Rich (FB)
Rayton (FB)

message 21: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments Posting a story at dA? Good idea. I'll have to look into that.

message 22: by Kevin (last edited Mar 13, 2012 08:55AM) (new)

Kevin Glusing | 6 comments I was kind of forced, actually, though it ended up being a pretty good idea. Facebook just couldn't handle the length of that one compared to the others. It seems a blessing in disguise, really, because people don't have to log into dA to see this, whereas FB requires it.

message 23: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
I didn't know you could post a story at DA. Will have to check it out, too. I created an account with DA when I went fishing for an artist to do the cover of my 2nd book. Consequently, she redid the cover to my first as well. Both turned out awesome!

Ok, let's see what we have here...
*jumping over to*

message 24: by Kevin (last edited Mar 14, 2012 10:17AM) (new)

Kevin Glusing | 6 comments A bit of an update on my post from before, seeing as there were some interested replies. Malcolm (Northwinter) has located the part of Deviantart where you can actually add text as part of the art submission. So, he's added the story as its own submission and tacked a picture on to illustrate. Here's the one he did for the story Rich as an example.

message 25: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Aahhhh, a journal entry. Ok, I have come across that. I wonder what the character limit is for that?

Thanks for posting the link! I had been scratching my head on that one. :)

message 26: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Todoroff | 54 comments Thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

dA is a great, if mixed quality, venue.

message 27: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I didn't even know they exist until I was close to releasing my 2nd novel and wanted to hire a professional to do the cover.

I asked a simple question to them: who'd like to make a cover for a fantasy book?

Dude, it was like dropping a side of beef in piranha-infested waters. Within thirty minutes I had at least thirty artists all asking me for the job, providing links to their galleries, etc. There were some amateurs in there and some artists that just blew me away. Some wanted absolutely outrageous amounts, and others were just looking to expand their portfolio and offered amazing deals.

The artist I found charged a very reasonable rate and did some outstanding work.

message 28: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Glusing | 6 comments Sorry to have usurped the topic some.
On the topic of free stories for the sake of it, I think it remains a good option for getting your work out there with no strings attached. If somebody likes it, they may tell you or they may seek out more by you. If they don't, they move along. There's no real loss (imo) in throwing up a free story just because.

message 29: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Hi Edward -

Definitely. My hopes, in my case, was to introduce readers to my style of writing, let them see for themselves how the story progresses, and then if they're interested, they go looking for a possible sequel.

I've since reworked my first book to include the first chapter to the 2nd book and then links on how to find it at the end. I will say that I did see an increase in sales as a result. At the end of my second book I added my "Author's Note". Boy, did I feel cheesy writing that. Not really my style. But, I did thank the reader for purchasing the book, told them where to follow along the progress of book 3 (my blog), encouraged them to leave a review, whether good or bad, etc.

As a result of that the number of reviews have surged, which is nice. I've gotten a few negative, but that's just the way it is. I know I can't please everyone. At least the general consensus is that people like the book. So in my case every time I see someone purchase the second book, it makes my day. Trivial, I know, but it tells me someone liked the free book so much that they're willing to spend $3 on the sequel.

I guess I'm easily pleased. :)

Big J

message 30: by Kevin (last edited Mar 14, 2012 11:31AM) (new)

Kevin Glusing | 6 comments I absolutely agree. Having information available on my progress with my own book 3 has really helped boost our fanbase (I'm quite happy with the 38 we have on Northwinter Press at Facebook). I try to get everything out there wherever I can. Goodreads has been amazing for that, and now DA has become an option since I can also include some art for those curious about how we see Katrina (as an example) described compared to what they may have in their head.

message 31: by Farah (new)

Farah (goodreadscomFarah) | 6 comments I have a good friend who just published his first ebook on amazon, and is running their KDP select 48 hour promotion right now. He would love to get some readers willing to write unbiased reviews, so if you are interested please take a look. I will post back at how successful it is in a few weeks! Here is the relevant info. on the book. The book is called Radioduranz, and the link for the promotion is here: The description of the book is as follows: Four hundred years in the future, the Caliphate of Chrislam rules a galactic human empire from the cities of Ulthule and Anthule in Earth’s Northern and Southern Polar regions. The oppressive rule of the Caliphate is unchallenged except for one group of people who will not submit: the Durans, who are descendants of warriors genetically engineered to be resistant to chemical weapons and nuclear radiation, and who now live in the blistering, tornado swept deserts of Earth. Ben Har-Jude, a young student of history, arrives on Ulthule hoping to pursue his studies at the Great School of History and Religion, but on an archaeological expedition in the deep desert his helicraft crashes and he is captured by the Durans. There he meets and falls in love with Farah, the beautiful Duran raid leader, who enlists him in her plan to threaten the Caliphate with an archaeological discovery of data from the early 21st century, data that will destroy the central tenet of Chrislam and precipitate the fall of the Caliphate. But—unknown to Farah or Ben—there are greater challenges emerging than the conflict between the Desert Durans and Caliphate Chrislamists. The future of interstellar space travel, and with it of galactic humanity, is at stake.

This tale is a future history, a story of where our planet may be heading if we continue to make the wrong decisions as nations and as a species; a story of the perennial cycles of conflict between peoples, and of the power of human love, human imagination and human creativity to continually redeem and renew existence.

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Jeffrey wrote: "Did that, too. My first full-length book is available free of charge everywhere. It's been downloaded thousands and thousands of times. The plan was to drum up interest in my newly released 2nd..."

Jeffrey, that is great to hear!Congratulations.

message 33: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Thanks, Stephen! It's bees a surreal experience, that's for sure. :)

message 34: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Brooks (potok) | 7 comments Yes, I'm doing that right now. Although my novel is available on Amazon, the first half of my book Girl in the Glass is available on Smashwords at

Yes there is an element of marketing there, but frankly my main aim is to get the book out there and read. One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that it gives you direct contact with your readers and getting feedback. This is my first published novel and I want to hear from my audience.

I am also planning to make my poetry free, even though I'm a published poet.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

I've got a free short story here and on Smashwords.
Music of the Gods
Music of the Gods by Richard Schiver

I also have a link on my blog for the first three chapters to my novel.
Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past by Richard Schiver

I've toyed with the idea of making Shadows of the Past free across the board. One day I've decided I will, then the next day I change my mind. I probably will once it finishes its 90 days in select on the 30th of this month.

message 36: by Indie e-books (new)

Indie e-books | 3 comments I think offering short stories for free is a great way to engage with readers - the problem is standing out from the crowd at this point I guess?

message 37: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 56 comments If you tie your short story to your other content, then it's not so much about standing out from the crowd, as finding your audience.

Being the best free story among 10,000 is difficult, but impressing your own target audience is not too hard.

message 38: by Steve (new)

Steve Thomas | 198 comments I've been keeping a short story, Smite Me, Oh Dark One for free at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords for a while--I think it's been 6 months at this point.

I set it for free for the obvious selfish reason of attracting an audience, but also because it's a short, fun story. Not everything has to be a cash-grab.

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)


"Not everything has to be a cash-grab."

I have a few things on that site...for free.

message 40: by G. (new)

G. Walker | 164 comments Well, I just threw my short story, The Envelope, in Kindle Select before I knew too much about it. My term ends in a couple of weeks, so to use up my free days, The Envelope will be free for Kindle for three days starting tomorrow (Friday, March 30th).

message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

G. David wrote: "Well, I just threw my short story, The Envelope, in Kindle Select before I knew too much about it. My term ends in a couple of weeks, so to use up my free days, The Envelope will be free for Kindl..."

Just posted my 5 star review. Nicely done.

message 42: by G. (new)

G. Walker | 164 comments Richard wrote: "G. David wrote: "Well, I just threw my short story, The Envelope, in Kindle Select before I knew too much about it. My term ends in a couple of weeks, so to use up my free days, The Envelope will ..."

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-)

message 43: by Indie e-books (new)

Indie e-books | 3 comments Abigail wrote: "I definitely think having a free short story is a great idea. I've one up on my blog and when I finish a short story related to my novel, I'm going to put that up for free everywhere. It's a great ..."

I'd be happy to host it when it's finished - just let me know. ;)

message 44: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 01, 2012 06:00AM) (new)

Hello... speaking of free, my ebook on Obama is a free download on Kindle today...

I'll let you know what happens...

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

I have a free novella on Smashwords and on here: Gruesome Glitter. I offered it free because it's short--somewhere over 11,000 words, and then because it's my first foray into writing in first person POV and I wanted to find out how well I did (or didn't) do.

message 46: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Can you provide a link so that we can take a look?

message 48: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (Jaymikal) | 2287 comments Mod
Thanks! I'll go take a look!

message 49: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) | 370 comments Mod
I think that most customers will recognize a freebie as an enticement when they see that you have other books for sale.

I've seen a lot of discussions about pricing for value vs for sales. Personally, I think that pricing successfully is based on readership; customers who don't know your work are more likely to buy it on a bargain, and customers who do know your work (and like it) will be more likely to pay a higher price.

message 50: by Alice (new)

Alice (alicebennett) | 2 comments I am currently promoting an indie novel on Smashwords. The writer is an emerging author and first time Smashwords author. We set up free downloads with good results and then decided to switch to $2.99. For two weeks no one bought the book so we switched back to free and now we get a couple of downloads every day. Very hard to get started and build an interest in a series. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Here's the link. Cheers!

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Recycling Kid (other topics)
Cuentos (other topics)
Music of the Gods (other topics)
Shadows of the Past (other topics)
Smite Me, Oh Dark One (other topics)