‘There are fewer and fewer people who will read a free book’

You’re a brand new writer sheepishly e-publishing your debut novel, why would anyone want to pay for words from a greenhorn like you?

Don’t be too quick to give your work away for free. While you may think you’re you’re removing the consumer’s biggest obstacle by giving your early e-books away, you might be devaluing them altogether.

” I think if it’s the first book in a series, it’s a valid strategy. I do it,” author Russell Blake told me. “But there’s a caveat.You’re reaching a relatively narrow audience: those that will read a free book.

“As e-readers have lost their novelty I think there are fewer and fewer who will read a free book,” Blake explained. “They’ve finally realised that their time is far more valuable than the few bucks they might save by going free. I think that’s why we’re seeing free diminish in its usefulness.

Blake pointed out that two years ago the idea of a free book was almost irresistible but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Everyone’s having a stab at becoming the next JK Rowling and throwing it into the sea of literally priceless pulp. Now, rather than an obstacle, a small price to pay has become a sign of worth.

“The most strident supporters of doing free promos these days are those who aren’t selling,” reckons Blake.

I’ll post the full interview with Russell Blake soon. In the meantime, check out his thoughts on genre focus and how it can be a great way to maintain a fanbase.

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3 Comments on “‘There are fewer and fewer people who will read a free book’”

  1. JC Hammond says:

    I’m not sure I buy this. In fact, I follow several sites, blogs and lists that alert me to free ebooks. I download and read far more freebies than I do pay books, although, I admit, some of these are promotional offers that let me sample an author or a series and are not free all the time. I also admit that I have gone on to purchase the subsequent books in a series on many (but not all occasions) Further, I review many of the free books I read on amazon, goodreads and my blogs, so while it is possible that fewer people will read a free book, I think you need to look past the numbers to what those folks are doing once they have read your book. Ardent fans can do a lot of promotion these days. Writers do deserve to make a living, but keep in mind that they aren’t going to make any money if no one knows about them either. Rewarding your fan base with a freebie now and again can do a lot of good and lead to bigger payouts in the future.

  2. I agree with this logic, as I’m always wary of something I find free on the Amazon store. I think that if the author doesn’t think they should charge for it, then it isn’t worth anything. And while that’s an elitist attitude to have, I also don’t like having my time wasted with a mediocre book.

    If I see something worth a few bucks, I usually scope out the author, too, on their blog. If it’s free, I almost never do.

  3. This is definitely true for me. I’ve seen too much free drivel to really trust anything free anymore without a recommendation or serious investigation, which I usually don’t have time for.


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