Think I’m going to be pricing any of my books as free? Ever? Yeah, that’s never gonna happen. If you’re looking for free e-books you’ve come to the wrong author. Lemme explain, ‘k?
This weekend I went to the butcher’s for a roast and some sausage, and they made me pay for my purchase. I bought some vegetables from a roadside stand, and they, too, made me pay for my purchase. Then I went to see a movie with some friends, and we had to pay to be entertained. I know, right? I didn’t get any of that stuff for free, even though none of it was stuff I absolutely had to have in order to survive. I mean, it was just stuff I wanted, and the people who made it required me to pay for their product!
Because they have to make a living, too!
I write for a living. Granted, I haven’t been doing a lot of writing, but all my income comes from my books. That’s my J-O-B. My books are the products I produce and sell. Like my butcher, and the farmer with the roadside stand, and the movie production company, I’m not going to price my product as free. I don’t care how badly someone may want it. My books cost $3.99 each. If you want them then that’s what you pay. I’ve got bills to pay, just like everyone else, and my books are where my money comes from.
This isn’t to say that I don’t give away books from time to time. Just last month I decided to give away a signed print copy to someone among those who responded to a certain Facebook post. There are times I just up and gift someone a digital copy. Bloggers who have supported me in the past usually get a free copy when a new book comes out. No, I still give away my books. But I will not, ever, price them as free on retail sites like Amazon, etc.
You Do You
I know lots of authors have a least one book as perma-free, and more power to ’em if that’s how they want to roll. A perma-free book has been touted for a couple of years now as a good way to get readers to buy an author’s other books. You know, draw them in with a freebie (especially if it’s the first book in a series) and then the readers will pay full price for other books by the author. And several years ago it worked. For a short amount of time. Now? There are so many free books out there that readers can spend the whole day downloading them from reputable sites, filling up their e-readers with tons and tons of books.
And then they don’t read them.
Several surveys over the past year (and no, I can’t remember where they are or I’d give you a link, but I read them) have shown that readers very rarely read free books, especially ebooks. Those downloads get shuffled into a folder where they’re promptly forgotten. Why? Because the reader places no value on them. They’re just free books, that’s all. Stuff. Filler. Junk. Maybe on a rainy day they may open the folder and see if a title or cover jumps out at them enough to give the book a try, but more often that not those books go unread.
I place more value that that on my work.
Anyone who thinks writing a book is easy is free to open up a blank Word document and start typing right now. Or talk to some of the readers who, inspired by the books they loved, decided to write and publish their own books and got horrible ratings and reviews because of writing, plot, grammar, realism, etc. Writing a book, a good book, is hard. I put a lot into it, and I deserve to be paid for it.
Of course, creating the characters, setting and storyline, research, writing the first draft, revising, revising, revising, revising and revising is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also paying for the cover art and design, classes and books (because, like all jobs, writers take courses to make us better at what we do), conferences, etc. All of those business expenses take money, and that money comes from selling books.
So unless you’re on an illegal pirate site where they purport to offer free downloads of books, or you found a douchecanoe somewhere who ripped off one of my books and is offering free downloads (in other words, if you’re stealing my books) then you will not find them listed for free. Not at any reputable sites. You know, the ones where honest people go to find books.
I don’t work for free, and I’m not sorry. My e-books are $3.99 each, and I think that price is more than fair. My print books are also priced competitively. And they’re good enough to merit those prices. You may catch me doing a pop-up giveaway on my Facebook, or giving away a couple of e-books to a newsletter subscriber, but as for free books on retailers? You’ve come to the wrong author.
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