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Does Free Pay? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Does Free Pay?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Brian
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Does Free Pay?

Postby Brian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:04 pm


Brian
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Does Free Pay?

Postby Brian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:04 pm

Chris Anderson thinks you should consider giving your book away. Here’s why:
http://writersdigest.com/article/does-free-pay/

Do you agree or disagree?

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mammamaia
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby mammamaia » Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:15 pm

can't disagree with his logic... for what he has to offer, that is... i don't know that it would work for fiction, though... and of course, you'd have to have his 'wherewithal' to be able to afford doing so...

jrtomlin
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby jrtomlin » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:41 pm


Anne-Marie
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RE: Does Free Pay?

Postby Anne-Marie » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:05 am

Yes, I agree that giving away free books enables the author to network and promote themselves. Who knows where in the world, the book will end up or to whom it will be recommended. Richard Paul Evans is another author who offers his books for free, and he continues to be a success. Giving away free books is way to encourage others to read your work, and if like they the free ones, no doubt will seek others written by you.

Jamesaritchie
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:16 am

From my experience, giving away digital books neither helps nor harms. Actual sales figures I've seen strongly suggest that readers either like your book or they don't. If they do, you don't need to give books away, and if they don't then giving them away doesn't help. Print and digital also seems to be different groups of readers, at least to a large extent.

The important thing, I think, is to understand that giving away digital books probably won't harm print sales, so do whatever you like.

jrtomlin
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby jrtomlin » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:39 am


Jamesaritchie
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:26 am

I've seen the Baen figures, and read his articles, but I can't for teh life of me see where the numbers means what he thinks they do. Baen compared his own numbers to his own numbers, and doing so tells you nothing. At one point, he said his company had sold 60,000 more books after they started giving away free digital books, so he credited the numbers to the giveaways. He may have been right, but other, similar companies with similar writers were also showing increased sales at the time, even without giving away books.

How do you read a book without having someone give it to you? Well, you could go to a library, or you could browse a bookstore and read the first page or two. But having no free books out there has never, ever stopped books from being read, from selling millions of copies, from making writers rich and famous. Stephen King and Tom Clancy didn't begin life as bestselling writers. They were complete unknowns, but readers found their books, read them, and talked about them, even though no one gave anything away.

This still happens every year. On fact, darned few, if any, of the new bestselling writers who reach the bestseller list each year have had their books given away in digital form.

I don't think giving away digital books harms much, though if someone reads one and doesn't like it, they sure won't buy other books by that writer, but I can't see any evidence at all that giving away books really helps. I certainly can't see where doing so entices readers more than reading the first chapter or two.

But this much I know for a fact. The right review in the right place still sells far, far, far more books than any other form of publicity, with teh sole exception of an Oprah appearance, which is really just another form of review.

And as someone pointed out, if the first chapter or an excerpt doesn't hook you, then neither will a complete book.

New, unknown writers do need to have people read their books, but it isn't like this has ever been a problem. New writers always want to blame lack of publicity and lack of promotion for poor sales numbers, but when a book doesn't sell well, it's pretty much never because no one read it. Every last book published by a commercial publisher gets read by far more people than most would believe. Poor sales come because those who did read it didn't like it enough to tell their friends to go buy it.

jrtomlin
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby jrtomlin » Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:24 am


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Georganna
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby Georganna » Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:36 pm

Anderson has certainly changed his tune from a few years ago when I interviewed him. Maybe it was a delayed effect from the close proximity to Cory Doctorow, who was preaching giving it away, at the same conference. He told me that whenever he put his work online, he saw a big boost to sales of the physical book on Amazon.

Now, I'd believe what Doctorow says because I am sure he is authentic, and not only because I met him. He works hard to make himself and his works known.

Of course, you could say that Anderson was giving away THE LONG TAIL bit by bit in his eponymous blog as he used the comments/conversations/posts to develop the book.

Giving books away, as publishers already do to reviewers, is a marketing/advertising tactic. Research has shown that more people will buy a book after reading the free digital version than would have without the freebie.


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