Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Freebies or Not?

My friend and fellow author, Julia Barrett, wrote a blog about the perceived value of FREE merchandise. There's an on-going debate about what the perfect price point is for a book. Some folks won't read anything they have to pay for. Others have a top dollar price point of five dollars. Still others will tailor their book dollars to the product.

Personally, I will spend more dollars on a book I covet than almost any other item. For instance, the St. John's Bible is on my wish list for Christmas, Birthday, and any other gift day. A) Because I'm a calligrapher myself. B) Because I consider the Bible a sacred text.)

If I am particularly interested in a subject, I will spend a significant amount of money on a print book--especially for research purposes. I know fellow writers and readers who think buying such a book is insane. To each, his own, I say. In my experience, such a print book is far more satisfying than an e-book. If I have room to store it, why not?

But when it comes down to it, most folks buy novels and it's impossible to place a value on a novel. A title one reader will wait impatiently for will have zero value for another reader. So the excitement and anticipation for Book A won't mean anything for the individual waiting for Book B.

I call it the Sam's Club Syndrome. If you go to the club on certain days, you'll be bombarded by freebie food samples. Folks try them out--whether or not they would normally eat the item. Then they walk away, without buying the item, because they don't like that item. Never did. Never will.

Free books fall in that same category, somewhat. I cannot tell you how many readers have downloaded my books when they were offered as freebies who then wrote to me complaining about the book they downloaded. Inevitably, there is one sentence included--"I don't like fantasy (erotica, romance, shifter, vampire, etc.)"

Then WHY download it?

Because it was FREE.

Heh. Well, I'll bite. I'll pool all the commenters on THIS blog post and pick one or two to receive a free book. Only one caveat. The comment must be about this blog post.



  1. If I see a book is offered for free and a) sounds interesting; b) I'm familiar with the author or c) it's already on my TBB list, then I'll download it. If I don't like it or can't finish it, then I simply put it away with a 'DNF' rating on goodreads. Who knows; maybe at another time that book will be waiting and I'll read it cover to cover. But that's just me.

    Some freebees I've downloaded are so chock-full of editing mistakes, they'll never be re-read. But I've never contacted an author and complained about their book. YOU downloaded it; YOU read the blurb; I'm presuming, of course, you NOTICED the genre. So why complain?

  2. I totally hear what you're saying, Anny. And yes, it's always annoying when someone downloads a free book that says EROTICA or ADULT and then complains about the content. However I have learned that those who complain do, those who enjoy most often don't say a word, they just go on to read more of your books. I don't do giveaways anymore, those are worse than useless, but I do avail myself of KDP Select free promo days. Those free days have increased my overall readership.

  3. I have found, since doing the whole self-pubbing thing - free books have worked quite well for me. I've also found more realistic pricing has worked - i.e. - the woman who purchased 34 of my titles and planned to purchase more at pay day. I have always believed the less hype and look-at-me-I'm-a-writer-stuff, the more stories get sold. As for freebie complaints? I haven't had one yet but that's not to say I haven't pissed people off. I do believe if the story is free and from a well known publisher, like EC etc, and it has errors then yes, people are more inclined to complain as they expect more.

  4. I only download a free book if it's something that I would have paid for if it hadn't been free. Otherwise I'll probably never read it. I think free books work great if it's the first book in a series and offered for a limited time. Both my publishers have done that and I've noticed a nice spike in all my book sales.

  5. I like free books to introduce me to authors I might not otherwise read. But why complain if the subject is someone one doesn't like? That strikes me as silly. I won't download a book just because it's free if it doesn't sound like something I might enjoy.

  6. I've downloaded a couple of free books by new-to-me authors. I certainly made sure the subject matter was something I wanted to read, though! :)

  7. And the winner was Liz A.! Liz, please e-mail me!