How do you feel about free books?

How do you feel about free books, giveaways, etc.?

  • Possitive

    Votes: 12 75.0%
  • Negative

    Votes: 4 25.0%

  • Total voters
    16

YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#1
Quick question: How do you feel about free books - temporary giveaways and other such things? I'm asking as an indie author from a non-English speaking country, who plans to get self-published in the English-speaking side of the world. In my home country (Bulgaria) people are still jumping eagerly for free books, but I'm wondering whether that is so in the west too. I guess not so much.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
I steer away from free books. I'm personally of the opinion that 'you get what you pay for' .. i.e. you're paying for quality. A free book from an unknown author would send me in the opposite direction, if I'm being brutally honest.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#3
As an Amazon reviewer, I get free book offers all the time. I rarely take them. I have limited time in which to read things and I'd rather not serve as a gatekeeper (akin to what literary agents or acquisitions editors would do), wading through the slush pile on the off-chance that I'll find something good. While I wouldn't claim that every book I pay for is good, I have a better chance of getting something well-written and professionally-edited in a book I pay for. (Also, the authors of free books frequently bomb your reviews with "not helpful" votes if you give them fewer than five stars. I don't want to deal with that drama.)

On the other hand, I'm quite happy to be on Tor's publicity mailing list. Even if it's the one for new and/or lesser-known authors -- they're putting out some good stuff lately. But they have, you know, a full staff of editors, cover designers, etc.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#4
I got nothing against giveaways - free is good and I remember even Brandon Sanderson wasn't above giving for free The Way of Kings for some time. That being said, I wouldn't try a book just because it's free. If I'm already interested in the book (or if someone whose opinion I trust recommends it) and suddenly it's free then all's well and good. If I'm not, the fact that it's free doesn't really matter at all.
 
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YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#5
Myes, I guessed so. So free giveaways in exchange for reviews (I don't mind lesser ratings :p ) isn't an option. Still, in a lot of forums I've seen sections about authors offering ebooks for reviews personally - is that a frowned upon practice too? Because it's not about "the author not valuing his/her work" it's just about "the author trying to get his work noticed". But yeah - with the free books around you being as numerous as the oxygen atoms, I can see how that can be off-putting. :)
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Myes, I guessed so. So free giveaways in exchange for reviews (I don't mind lesser ratings :p ) isn't an option. Still, in a lot of forums I've seen sections about authors offering ebooks for reviews personally - is that a frowned upon practice too? Because it's not about "the author not valuing his/her work" it's just about "the author trying to get his work noticed". But yeah - with the free books around you being as numerous as the oxygen atoms, I can see how that can be off-putting. :)
It's not that I mind an author who is trying to get noticed (as long as they are honest about it and don't pull the on-off post which says "I just read this wonderful book that no-one has ever heard of. Don't know the author but it's like the next Lord of the Rings!") or that I think it's off-putting. It's that most of us here have careers, families, and other constraints on our schedule. Time is a finite resource for most of us, and therefore price, while important, is not the top priority. In a nutshell, most of us read for fun.

Let's be honest - like Sneaky said, the fact that we pay for a book doesn't necessarily makes it a good one, and there are certainly a lot of talented indie authors, but the success ratio is much higher then if I was trying to wade through heaps of free or cheap books just to find the occasional gem. The people who are doing it have my full appreciation, but I don't the time or state of mind to do it.
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#8
I feel pretty suspicious of free books. It's the old thing about quality really, you just can't trust an author's opinion about their own work (*)
This in turn makes me very conflicted :joyful::nailbiting::rage: as I give a way stuff that I write. I find I'm more inclined to read other peoples stuff if they are reading mine (which happens on some writing comps on other forums), especially in short story form. Aside from that there is too much great published stuff to read that I can't really see myself picking up the free stuff.

(*) apart from me. my stuffs great.;)
 

WOllfen

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#9
While free books are frowned upon by many readers, the numbers don't bear out the idea that free books are ignored. I can say from personal experience that my one free ebook is downloaded far more than any of my other books. It is in the thousands, whether many of those people are reading it at all or not is another story. But free ebooks are downloaded by a significant number of readers out there. I don't bother to advertise its existence and simply let it be. Any exposure I get from the book being out there has to be a good thing.
 

Titus

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#10
I read a lot of free books on my kindle and they are hit or miss. Unfortunately anything I get for free just adds to the TBR pile (both physical and digital books). I have definitely read some great free books but as a whole they are typically unpolished and in many cases unbearable to get through. I feel that for a free book even more than a paid book the author really has to grab my interest quickly or I will just put it down as did not finish.
 

YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#11
Well, in my case it will be a book that's been nominated for "Best fantasy of the year in Bulgaria", published by a big publishing house in Bulgaria, with a successful/semi-successful crowdfunding campaign behind it (remains to be seen :D ), etc etc, so I hope that it "grabs someone's interest" :p. And it won't be free non-stop - just for a while and in exchange for reviews. But even then I still feel - as you guys said - that most of the downloads will result in scrapping and not reading. Which is pity - every time I take a book for free in exchange for a review I always read and review it, but yeah - I've only done that a handful of times so far.

Ok, I'll see if I can think of another alternative for gathering reviews. Thanks for the replies. :)
 

sonnet

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#12
When I got my Kobo (which I never use now, its NOT A BOOK) I downloaded some of the free fantasy e-books. Now I will confess I've yet to read them (because I also was bought The First Law Trilogy for the same occasion and was, obviously, distracted by it)....But, I still like the idea of using a give away to showcase some new talent....which I will read.....soon....ish.
 

YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#13
Yeah, e-readers are not books - they are entire freaking libraries! :D But that's kind of a long discussion. ;)
I'm reading the First law at the moment too and yes - of course I'd read it over any random free book. But if the book was offered to me personally in a forum or something I'd read it right after. :)
 

sonnet

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#14
I think if I were asked to read something in order to review it then it might be different, I'd probably consider it my responsibility to do the book justice and set aside some time for it. It must be hard getting your book out into the world and I'd consider anything I could do to help someone, however small, an important task.
 

alicia

Warded demons with Arlen
#15
A lot of first in a series books are free, so I try them if they sound interesting. If I don't enjoy them pretty quick, I just delete them.
 

Richard

Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg
#16
Hmm I've been wrestling about the idea of releasing my book for free. I'm glad I found this thread because I too believe that something free is probably not of any value. However, for unknown authors like me without any means of large-scale advertising, offering a book for free on Amazon (for a few days or permanently) is a good way to attract readers and get reviews. I've read positive reviews about Kindle Direct Publishing which is a 3-month contract that allows authors to release their book for free for a few days each month. For well-known authors that is almost worthless, but for unknown authors, that has some value. I guess a good question to ask is, "What would you rather read? An unknown book for free or an unknown book for $5?"
 

MrMarbles

Fought a battle in the name of the old gods
#17
Is this a trick question? I love free stuff :)

As far as the perception reviewers might have, as well as many Amazon and online marketplace customers? Reviewers might think the book is cheap or bad, since free can be a marketing plot to get readers to try the book (if marketing or the contents of a book are not strong enough on their own). Some readers are fine with free books, but others are leery of them, and also of cheap 99c books, for similar reasons.

If the story is great you always have a shot, but pricing is important.
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#18
For a just-beginning, first-time or not-yet-made-it-bigtime author, the occasional free offer appears to be an essential step in getting noticed. Indeed, leaving a short story (or some background material written up as a prequel or similar) as a permanent freebie may be a wise step. As such, its always worth taking a look. The reasoning is the same as the reason Amazon and Smashwords both provide free samples - it lets the reader take a good look at something unknown before spending significant amounts of money on it.
Other stuff posted free for any length of time looks suspicious - either the author just wants to be able to claim 'published' status without proper grounds, or they can't sell because they aren't very good. Or maybe they just don't care . . . or don't understand?

@MrMarbles: You posted a good comment about my free sample (thanks) - have you got any further and did you still like it?
 

ajdobbs

Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg
#19
I'm glad I found this conversation. I am an indie author and my first book is out now on amazon. I've been toying with the free book idea but now not so sure. What are your thoughts on a small number of free signed copies? Would this come over better?
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#20
I'm glad I found this conversation. I am an indie author and my first book is out now on amazon. I've been toying with the free book idea but now not so sure. What are your thoughts on a small number of free signed copies? Would this come over better?
Signed copies? So you have gone the CreateSpace route? I avoided that, stayed pure electronic - and that means free samples are readily available at all times. This seemed like common sense at the time - but the longer I sit here, the less effective it seems to be.
Free books, samples, giveaways etc, etc, are all just marketing tools. The problem is that you have to do your own marketing, no-one is doing any for you - and unless you have a relevant background, it ain't easy!
You could try paying for marketing advice - but the cheap ones do nothing and the expensive ones start by marketing themselves, and will cheerfully take money to push an unsaleable product. Then if they sell just a few they can claim to be effective and ask for more money for upgraded services etc
The present book market is a mess, and full of sharks - but I don't know which way it is going to go in future and I don't think anyone else does either! The key is luck - and at that point I have no further advice! (though I might be glad to receive some if anyone out there is REALLY SURE they know what they are talking about)