Should Writers Give Their Work Away For Free?

December 4, 2013

A recent review on Son of a Duke piqued my curiosity when a reviewer wrote something to the effect of: buy this book before the author realizes what she’s giving it away!  Honestly, the review made me laugh, because I’m not giving away my work at all.  I put a lovely price of $0.99 on Son of a Duke for a simple, objective and pure business reason: pricing the first book in a series at $0.99 is a way to draw readers into trying out your series and buying the other books in the series.

So there, dear reader, I’ve given away my cold-hearted, dirty, business secret.  Two out of three of my books are at $0.99 just to get you to buy the rest of them!  So I don’t feel that I’m giving my work away at all.  To be quite honest, I poured thousands and thousands and thousands of hours into my stories, and I wouldn’t dream of giving away something that contains so much of my heart, mind, body and spirit.


Enter the strategy that others have used.  This has always been a phenomenon that has made me very curious: writers who set some of their books to something in the biz called perma-free.  Meaning, the work is set to be permanently free.  This is a tricky thing to accomplish because Amazon (the major player in the self publishing business) doesn’t let you set a book at a cost of $0.00.  So authors actually put a lot of effort into convincing Amazon to move to the price to zero by making it zero on other sites.  It’s quite a complicated thing, but here’s the catch: it’s worth it.

Readers will download that book because it’s free and then go on to pay for all of the other books in the series.  It’s a brilliant move that seems to have been working for quite awhile.  But I wonder.

Is this strategy overused?  Is the free ebook deal no longer worth it?

(The wonderful blog, Dear Author, recently put out a piece on this very subject, and I’m truly thankful they did, because it’s been so puzzling since I started self publishing!)

So I’m throwing this out to my awesome readers.  Do free ebooks matter anymore?  Are you still intrigued by the free ebook?  Or have you downloaded so many that you’re only shopping for ones that you truly wish to purchase?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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