Friday, May 17, 2013

Are Kindle FREE Books A Good Deal For Writers or Readers?

I am still checking Dan Brown’s Inferno progress daily. Kudos, he is holding solid at number one in Kindle books. Mr. Brown’s reviews for this work have hit 90, 13 of which are 1-star. The price you pay for fame and financial success appears to be public criticism. Anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming rich and famous can look at the lives of those who are and decide for themselves if it is a fair exchange.

Kindle provides authors the opportunity to offer their books for free. Their primary requirement is that the authors give them exclusive digital rights to distribute the book for a minimum of 90 days. Within that 90 period an author can provide his book to readers completely free for a total of 5 days divided in any full day increments that the author chooses.

Authors who successfully promote their books for free do so by preparing the market for the upcoming giveaway by assaulting the Twitterverse, Facebook, LinkedIn, and every other social media. When the giveaway day arrives if the preparation has been well done the author is rewarded with massive downloads, which can number in the tens of thousands over a forty eight hour period. During that time the author can admire his ranking, his fifteen minutes of success, and feel like a bestselling author.

However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. So what happens with writers and readers post successful giveaway?
Authors generally experience greatly improved sales in the days and weeks following a giveaway. It would appear that a good rand in free books translates into being noticed by paying customers after the fact. This is good for the author.

The reader on the other hand may be a serial downloader who regularly hunts the free ranks in search of interesting titles or intriguing covers to add to their Kindle library. I suppose some number of those books eventually get read, but the fact remains, perceived value is everything and if it was free we tend not to value it. Therefore, those books go to the bottom of the reading list and often never get read. This is bad for the author and not good for the reader. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?

A recent study reveals that negative reviews are more likely to be written by readers who did not pay for a book. The assumption then would be that if readers do not respect the value they do not respect the work.

Are giveaways a good thing or bad? It is up to each of us to decide. I have promoted my books for free on Kindle and experienced some degree of success laced with a modicum of heartache. I would do it again. I have downloaded some number of free books to my Kindle. I try not to download anything I do not intend to read and I avoid downloading too many for my time constraints. I never think of those books as valueless, I choose to consider them a gift from the author for which I am thankful.

Download as many free books as you like, but please remember there is a hardworking author on the other end counting on you to appreciate the effort if not the work.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.

Elizabeth’s Secrets
Dark Star

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