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Does Free Pay? : Conversation question • Page 2 • 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.
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pencilandpaper
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RE: Does Free Pay? My 5 cents...

Postby pencilandpaper » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:55 pm

I read the article. I can understand the author's point.

I wrote news and feature articles for a newspaper and in a sense, I wrote for free--gave my work away to the public.

As for a novel, I can see using it as a marketing technique to gain readership. But, I would set a time limit or some measurable factor for the freebies.

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Georganna
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RE: Does Free Pay? My 5 cents...

Postby Georganna » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:07 pm

Here's how you do it:

Give away the free digital copies for a set period of time.  Measure the increase in hard copy sales, factoring out other variables such as general increase in sales and any other positive influences (this is better accomplished with no competing marketing campaigns going on at the same time.)  Then perform a probability test on the results to see if the increase (assuming there was one) is statistically significant at whatever level of confidence is reasonable for this type of testing.

If the results are statistically significant, then in a test of this particular marketing technique, giving away digital copies of a novel do increase sales. A better test would involve a control group, but that's kind of difficult to set up with book customers who have Internet access.


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joshuadpeterson
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby joshuadpeterson » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:53 am

From a first-time novelist, I do not see how refusing to hand over a free book will hamper the author. For those who have written, as creative-bunny has, about the economy view on writing, you're missing the point of being an author. If Nora Roberts' first concern was the number of books she sold, I doubt her writing would continue to build as it has in the market. Remember that we are writers first-and-foremost, and businessmen second.

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fictionopia
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby fictionopia » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:15 am

despite the anecdotal evidence, i don't understand how free digital books drive sales of the same book in print, although i'm sure it's true in some cases. what does make sense to me, however, is giving away a digital book to sell a different book in print. i think we're seeing this model a lot in scifi, where a single property exists as a novel, a movie, a tv show, a comic book, in webisodes, etc.

i think people are realizing that while there is a lot of control over what gets published, there is less control over what gets read. the challenge for writers is making readers aware of their work.

@joshua, i don't think your last statement is a truism for every writer. if you're signed by a large publisher, you have other people representing your business interests and that allows you spend more of your time writing. but if you're with a smaller publisher or are self-publishing, you pretty much need to be equal parts writer and businessperson, or perhaps even more of the latter. that's a challenge for a lot of artists. the reluctance to learn the requisite business, and in this day technical, acumen is the reason why many very talented people will never make a sustainable living from their art.

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joshuadpeterson
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby joshuadpeterson » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:51 pm

@fictionopia, I appreciate your more open point-of-view. I rarely consider the small publishing world in my statements, but will remember that in the future.

jrtomlin
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby jrtomlin » Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:37 am


Ultimate Cheapskate
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby Ultimate Cheapskate » Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:22 pm

[QUOTE]joshuadpeterson - 2009-01-14 6:53 AM From a first-time novelist, I do not see how refusing to hand over a free book will hamper the author. For those who have written, as creative-bunny has, about the economy view on writing, you're missing the point of being an author. If Nora Roberts' first concern was the number of books she sold, I doubt her writing would continue to build as it has in the market. Remember that we are writers first-and-foremost, and businessmen second.[/QUOTE]

I'd quibble with that last sentence a bit. Like it or not, IMO if you want to become - and remain - a commercially published author, you'd better bring a pretty strong business game with you, along with your prose. 


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jmascia
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby jmascia » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:33 am

My thinking is, that on an individual level, it may not work. For instance, if you give away the digital version of a book, people like us might want to get the real, hard copy, of it. However, I would think that most of the people, especially in this country right now, would say, hey I already have it for free, why bother paying for it?

Now, the arugment is that TOR gave away free digital copies of old books. The reason why that works is because they are old books, and the hard copies of them have likely been sitting on shelves for a while. If you can get someone to read one of the free ones, you might get them excited enough to go out and buy a DIFFERENT book in the store by either the same author, or just a TOR book in general. I haven't seen these free digital books TOR has been giving away, but I am sure at the end of each book there is a page that says "If you liked this, try these..."

So, I have to say, for small timers, I just have to say that giving away something for free, probably help you make any money in the long run.

James Mascia
www.islandofdren.com

craigtheairplaneman1
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RE: Does Free Pay?

Postby craigtheairplaneman1 » Sat May 02, 2009 4:22 pm

Hi Brian:

Hope all is well.

Can we add something to give away or not please? One part of the debate that should be considered is if your neighbor creates a book and it is self-published or from a major corporation, the cost of the giveaway has to be factored.

There are self-publishers that will give a good amount of product depending on the package but if somebody doesn't have a lot to invest they may get 1 or 2 copies. They usually end up going for the family.

If you have a good amount of promotional copies to play with it can be very advantageous. An author once told me (sorry it was long ago and I don't recall the name to give them a deserved plug) they give as many as they can budget for reviewers because their statistics show they are more likely to get publicity (pro or con) from the reviewer, compared to the reviewer having to call the publisher or author for a copy. Their belief was even if the copy sent to John/Jane Doe got a bad review it at least would get the word out and bring publicity.

Not all feel the way he does and the interesting thing is how both sides can make great cases. If it were a jury trial we would be hung or is that hanged or hang?

All the best.

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ThoughtfulPen
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Re: Does Free Pay?

Postby ThoughtfulPen » Tue May 12, 2009 6:27 pm

I love writing so much that I would give it away free just to see my book in print, at bookstores and to get it in the hands of the readers. I don't think my husband would appreciate that, so in order to give up my day job(s), I would need to make some money from my passion to devote to writing. However I am writing a book online through storywrite.com to let people know my style. If I can gather an audience then those that read my online story (free as I cannot sell it), those people just might search out my book at a store knowing they like my writing style. That free access to my work is worth the time I put into it and I think it will ultimately look pretty good on a query letter to an agent or editor. They'll know I'm marketable and come with a built in audience.
~Lindsey
Visit me at http://thewritewords-lindsey.blogspot.com/

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