Free for promotion? No.

A lot of writers these days are offering their books for free as part of a promotional tool. What I see from this is a lot of books flying out the door, each one a lost sale. Yes, people have your book in their hands, but you may not even want your book in certain peoples hands. 


A lot of people snap up whatever books are free, regardless if they are actually interested in the genre. This can lead to bad reviews on your book, even when it isn’t bad, just not that reader’s cup of tea.


For the people who do like it and love it, well, they are no longer possible sales because they have it now, for free. 


I liken it to the tortoise and the hare. With freebies, you are the hare, shooting out of the gate, gaining in rank and putting your book into possibly thousands of hands. Thousands of hands that no longer have to pay if they want to read your work. Eventually, the furor over the free book wanes and the sales afterward do too. Then you are left working to get your book into readers hands again, only this time you are down several hundred (or several thousand) readers. 


I also think it raises a certain expectation among readers. Your stuff has gone free once. New readers may have heard that yes this is a great book, and the person they heard that from got it free. Instead of rushing out to buy your book, they may decide to sit and wait you out, hoping for another free promo. After all, they already have a ton of books to read on their Kindle, they aren’t hurting for new things to read.


On the flip side, the author who doesn’t offer the free promo, is the tortoise. Your book will gain fewer sales in the beginning. It will take longer for it to get in the hands of many readers, longer for word to spread. But, every step the tortoise makes, he (or she) is getting paid. 


I would rather it take two, three, or even four years, to get into the hands of thousands if that means each book was a sale. Now, of course, I am a newbie author. My tortoise is newly hatched and still damp from the shell. My tortoise is not striding slow but purposefully forward. My little tortoise is taking trembling baby steps on the path of book sales. So we will see how all of this goes. 


Personally, I would rather sit for a week with no sales than hand my hard work (and getting to the point of publishing is very hard work) over to hundreds or thousands of readers for free. I spend a lot of my free time writing, rewriting, editing, cover art, etc. Time my family has to step back an leave me alone for. My work, my time, my sacrifices, are worth more than free.

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