15 thoughts on “Free — But At What Cost?

  1. Your timing, Barbara, is impeccable. I was just about to open my WIP and begin my work day, and you saved me. Temporarily.

    Free. Yes, there absolutely is an angle, and as I read your post the same thoughts were unravelling in my mind. Though I did not think of the spotlight, that idea is spot on!

    My book is not in eFormat, but I have given copies away on blog posts. I’ve attended author readings and given the known author my book. Why? Because, as you pointed out, my name is not Stephen King.

    If no one tries the seaweed-wrapped cocktail weenies, how can they tell their friends? If they don’t tell their friends, how does the word-of-mouth wheel start turning?

    There is a cost when I give a copy of my book away for free. The publisher wants their share, even tho I have a discounted rate, I have to pay for the book. Often, shipping is involved. What is free for the receiver is not free for me.

    But, if the strategy works, if I shine the spotlight and the reader is dazzled, I have a new fan. I might get a review on Goodreads. Reader may tell her book club, may loan her copy to her sister, her mother, her friend.

    And from that one giveaway, more people know my name. And that is, as a certain credit card would say, PRICELESS!

    • A resounding YES, Sherry! In addition, you bring another aspect to the banquet of Free, which is the sizable consideration of gambling–and not for fun or profit. As a lover of all things Underdog,I gravitate toward the concept of Grassroots-mojo-pumping-word-of-mouth-movements that absolutely have the power to push our little sailboats alongside the yachts out in the harbor of BIG BOOKS. And I’m sincerely and unshakably convinced that all of our little efforts whether they be the result of Free,(even though, as you are so right in saying — one sided Free!) luck, or persistent prayer, are meaningful and necessary.

  2. Very thought-provoking, Barbara, and I agree with Sherry’s comment.

    When I judge the value of free, I have always “considered the source.” Some online entrepreneurs are known for giving away valuable content, so when I see their “free” offer, I pay attention. Others bombard me too much with STUFF and I don’t feel so warm and fuzzy about their offer.

    The “know/like/trust” thing that everyone talks about is so important.

    • Excellent point, Elizabeth! There’s a glut of questionable Freebies that offer little beyond lumpy filler. And worse of all IMHO, are the dive-bombing Freebie-Flingers whose persistent offerings feel more like an assault than a gift. Recommendations from friends and my writerly comrades carry abundant weight when it comes to the unfamiliar. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Great post, Barbara – I agree with you that “FREE” runs the gamut from quality to not so quality…free snacks at Trader Joes? Always welcome. Free books? Love em, and have found some great authors that way! Buy one, get one free Snuggies? Maybe not so much… :)

    • Thanks for popping over Laird. Har de har, but why have one Snuggie you’ll never use when you can have TWO!

      I find myself increasingly confused by some of the *Free Book* hostility I’ve seem in circulation of late. Simple assessment: No $$$ investment. Love it or hate it. Keep it or delete it. One can argue how this affects the author, but it seems like a win-win for the reader. If it doesn’t jibe it’s an easy enough delete. Quite unlike that $24.99 bestseller that blew the months book budget, but left the reader cold.

  4. I’m with your dad on this one except when it comes to free books. I’ll never ever refuse a free book and Amazon indie marketing has broken that free means more sales ultimately.
    Like Liv I consider what’s free before taking it simply because it’s free.
    Great blog post, Barbara

    • Hey Judy. Yes, I, too, am loving what Amazon is doing for indies, and there’s sincere joy to be had from supporting authors and very often finding wonderful wonderful books as a result.

      There was a time when all things FREE were magical — of course I was 9 years old and my father was right there ready to repeat his Wise Owl Dad words when the Free something turned out to be not so great, lol!.

  5. Laird – Buy one, get one free Snuggies? Lol! If that’s happening somewhere, Armageddon has surely started IMHO. :)

    Barbara – Great post and all good points! Free does not equal quality nor does it equal crap. We should reserve judgment based on the product and not whether it is free or costs money.

    Sherry – I agree with the importance of word of mouth, especially when it comes to books. Giving away books for free to spark some word of mouth is definitely valuable in the long run.

    • Thanks for popping over and dropping your wisdom, Tami! So how about we all grab up some Snuggies, gather-up our Freebie book collections, and talk-up our favorite literature. We’ll pretend it’s a business trip and NOT a slumber party. And if by chance you happened to stop over at Laird’s blog today, you’ll know precisely who it is that will be making the popcorn :-D

  6. Good post. I love your hyphenated word: “Trader Joe’s serving up bottom-of-the-freezer-ignored-to-death items”
    Sometimes the free things are ready to be out-dated items. But I love free Kindle e-books. I have gotten to read some terrific new writers. Then as a new fan, I look for their next book. I love reading books written by my Twitter and Wana friends. Heck, I even buy them!

  7. Thank you, Janice. Tee hee, I suspect that T.Joe would not be amused :-O
    I absolutely agree with the joy of discovering new writers in the midst of Kindle eBook hopping.

    And yes, oh yes, but isn’t it so fabulous finding that so many WANA’s are authoring such wonderful, diverse, and exciting projects?!. I haven’t stopped being amazed by the talents in our little village and I know I’ve only just grazed the surface.

  8. Free always works, but sometimes there is a hidden price.

    I just won a free novel before it hits the stores. Problem is, I need to finish it and review it within two weeks (Need to review on the release date)

    No pressure.

    I just hope I like it. I don’t like to review anything I don’t like, for the sake of the author.

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