Why Give a Book Away?

Blue Sky WEBSITE USEI sent out a notice to my mailing list that my short story, Blue Sky, is available free on Amazon this weekend.  (And now I'm telling you.  You can download it here.   For free.  And please tell your family and friends.  And enemies. Or the mailman and all your coworkers, and everyone else you know.)

But a client/friend emailed and asked me, essentially, why I was doing this.  And that made me realize that not everyone has studied the theory of indie publishing with Amazon as I have.  (Why would you? I never thought twice about it until I started hearing other author's success stories.)

So, why would you give away a book for free?

Let me be the first to say that I'm not an expert on this whole thing, so all I can offer is why I decided to do it.  Here's the deal.  When you publish a book exclusively with Amazon in their program called KDP Select, they offer you several sales tools.  One of the most-used is the freebie.  For every 90-day period you are exclusive with them, you get up to 5 days where you can offer your book for free.  

And–this is its own little mini-industry.   There are numerous sites that will list your freebie for free, or a small fee.  Some of them list it for free but then say they can't guarantee your book will show up unless you pay them that small fee (anywhere from $5-$50, at least on the sites I saw).   If you're interested, I found a page on Author Marketing Club that listed a bunch of such sites.

All this being said, why do it?

For me, its a matter of exposure.  I hope that people will read my short story, like it, and decide to buy my novel.  I also hope they will come visit this site (hello to you if this is your first time here) and keep an eye out for future releases.  And maybe keep coming back for more scintillating posts on writing and the writing life.  One of the great things about formatting a book for Amazon is that you can put anything you want to at the end of the book.  So, of course, I put a link to this page.  

I'm not sure how effective a free promotion would be if you had only one book or story up.  There's a whole school of thought that indie publishing is a numbers game and that the more books you have up, the better you'll do.  Hugh Howey, the poster child for indie publishing, said at a panel at AWP that he didn't do any promotion until he had five or six titles published.

So, I'll keep you posted on all this.  I'm approaching my foray into indie publishing as a grand experiment.  Why not try offering a book for free?  Of course, it helps that what I have to give is a short story, not a novel I slaved over for years.  (Though I did write the first draft of this story when I was doing my MFA back in 2002.)

Here are a couple of posts about publishing with Amazon:

So You Want to be a Kindle Author

Amazon for Authors, Part One

Amazon for Authors, Part Two 

Would you consider giving a book away for free?

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8 Comments on "Why Give a Book Away?"

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Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting)
Guest

Great reminder. Thanks, Charlotte. I had looked at this, along with a myriad of Kindle marketing info, and decided to do this at some stage for the 3rd edition of Fear of Writing. (I’m still waiting for the Kindle version to be released.) I will be very interested to hear how you do with the giveaway. Best of luck with it!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
05/02/2014 09:46

Thanks, Milli! It is fun to be able to experiment this way. And please come back and leave a link for your Fear of Writing book. I know my readers will be interested.

Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting)
Guest

Thank you, Charlotte! I would love to share the link with your readers.

Fear of Writing: putting the fun back into writing! by Milli Thornton

(3rd edition, April 2014): tinyurl.com/pd8mk28

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
05/02/2014 11:52

Thanks for the link, Milli!

Leigh Lauck
Guest
Leigh Lauck
05/03/2014 13:15
I loved Blue Sky! I don’t know much (read: anything) about indie publishing and marketing, but it makes sense to me that a book giveaway could yield beneficial results for the author. And it makes sense, too, that having a catalogue of titles ready would maximize the benefit. As a reader, I’d be interested in a free book (I always click links for free books from Book Shout) and if I liked it, I’d be interested in seeing more from that author. And I’d be extra delighted, if I really loved it, to discover that the author had lots of… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
05/03/2014 14:57

I’m so glad you liked the story, Leigh. I, like you, always check out the free books and the ones that are being featured for $1.99–I’ve discovered some great authors that way. Thank you for your support!

Don Williams
Guest
Don Williams
05/03/2014 17:40

Wow! Sounds great, but unfortunately I don’t have an active Amazon account which counts me out! Otherwise, I would have purchased a copy the moment it came out. Hopefully, this will work out great for you and my fingers are crossed. Your a great writer and great writers deserve to be read!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
05/04/2014 06:12

That’s okay, Don, thanks for the good thoughts anyway. And I’m glad you think I’m a great writer!

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