♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What’s your opinion on authors giving their books away for free?
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! If you’re new to the series, the authors included are grateful for your reads and appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Be prepared to become a regular reader.
Free isn’t free when it comes to free books. First of all, the author makes nothing off the sale of a free book. Obviously. They also don’t make much in the way of lasting interest in their catalog. There are the outliers, for whom this works great. I’ve had my share of giveaway periods for all of my books, and those were the times when the most copies were picked up (unless you count signings for Blue Honor which have always kicked some retail tail—readers love meeting authors face to face. I love meeting them, too.)
The problem with free book giveaways, or permanently free books, is that all the effort the author put into creating the book is never compensated. A lot of readers don’t realize that it takes a great deal to bring a book together. Authors aren’t just gifted story tellers. They are skilled artists, and those skills take practice and training. If an author tells you otherwise, they’re full of a big steaming pile of you know what. Whether they went to university or devoured books at home, every author has developed their skill.
If you take into account the man hours honing the skill, the cost of books and courses, you start to understand the reason for the price tag. In addition to that, the author works with other skilled individuals who edit their manuscript, proof read the manuscript, format the manuscript, design the cover, and help them market the final product. None of that is free. In fact, it costs in the thousands. Some authors have to cut corners to bring their projects onto their feet. There’s no advance for independent authors. Advances go to authors published through big houses with proven track records of sales. They aren’t large sums, unless you’re a very well known name. So, to suggest that the average writer can handle giving their books away for free, or have them stolen in a download is to not understand how the world works, at all.
An authors wages are the percent they get from sales. If they don’t make enough, they don’t eat, they loose the roof over their head, and more books do not come out because you have no means to do so. Some authors may have another job to help support them, but that should not be a reason to take their books for free. They still did the work to produce their books and deserve appropriate compensation. No one comes into your second job and says that they get whatever you do there for free. Indeed, you get paid for the hours you put in there too. So trying to say they have a day job is ridiculous. We get paid for every job we work. Every job.
The ideology that authors should freely give their books away goes with the ideology that authors should work for experience and resume items, instead of a wage (or commission). You’ve seen the fliers that are posted on Facebook and other social media sites by artists trying to communicate the ridiculous demands of the public for free stuff. I’m always frustrated by this. No one would ask the plumber to come fix their pipes for experience and resume items. The plumber would rightly laugh, and let your house flood. Why are books or works of art deemed as free work? Do you go into a store and take that vase that catches your eye without first paying at the register? Do you realize that someone designed that vase, and even though it’s mass produced, it carries a price tag that equates to the time and effort of the artist, as well as the materials, and the distributors cut? Well, it’s the same for a book. Whether it’s a service or tangible item, You can’t just walk out of the store without paying, and it’s absurd to think you’re owed that regardless of the store in which you’re shopping.
If an author chooses to give their books away for free, they should take into account the precedence that they set by doing so. Certainly, it can give you a small boost for a short time. There is no guarantee it will give a permanent boost, and or almost all authors it does not. I know it’s been hammered at authors to do this as a great marketing ploy, but I haven’t seen it do anything to really achieve that goal. In addition to that, it creates the perception that books should be given away, that only certain authors can charge for copies, and that extends to all your future releases. The expectation will be set. It not only makes it hard for other authors, but yourself at future publication.
Another issue with free books is that many book sites are glutted with them. It doesn’t help to get yours noticed, because they’re still buried in a sea of books. Secondly, it carries a reputation of low quality. This isn’t something that I decided. It’s something I have heard readers say all the time. Free books are a pool of bad writing. Putting your book in that pool aligns it with those other books. True or not. It’s what readers think about free (especially indie published) books. Ask yourself, what is the image in your mind when you think that something is free? Isn’t something cheaply made, usually frivolous? That’s not how you want your book to be seen by readers.
I’ve given my books away for free, and I will do it again, but only for short periods that align with releases. For instance, I’m gearing up to release another Trailokya. The first in the series will be available to download as an e-book for free at that time. But it won’t last. Another caveat, I house the first book on Wattpad. You have to be a member to get it. The companion is also there, for members only. Can you become a member. Absolutely. You totally should go there to support aspiring authors. That’s why I am there. I hope that that book will be a way for me to pay it forward to those other authors. Always make sure that giving away your books is for very good reasons.
Let’s see what the author authors have to say on the topic.