So, as I am apt to do, I wandered into a forum for Kindle readers on Amazon. What I saw there sparked this post (well, that and the post by Scarlett Parrish, Shakespeare got to get paid, son)
Many readers get their giggles by authors making titles free on Kindle. I have no problem with this, as I myself have done so many times with my various works in hopes of reaching a broader audience. But here’s where things for me (as a writer/reader) get kinda iffy.
Many readers choose only free reads to grace their Kindle. They feel no impulse whether or not they enjoyed the book to leave a review (whether the read was decent or not) or support the author by purchasing another work. Sure, the economy still sucks, but if one can’t occasionally part with $0.99 (of which the author gets $0.35) to show some love to the writer, or a review of some sort, then why would an author keep making books free? If one isn’t getting masses of readers, reviews or sales of other work when making a story free, what does the author get out of it? There is no guarantee that since a book was downloaded that it will be read. Some people collect freebies simply because they are free, not because they are interested in the product.
It is true, many people write and self-publish because they love words. But truth is, if one is getting a novel for the Kindle (or whatever e-reader one has) then the author of said novel has some hopes of financial gain or insight via consumer reviews of the work, which is why it was found on Amazon to begin with. One can argue that an author should have no expectations where their work is concerned. Just keep writing the next project until complete. But writers are people, and people (even those who aren’t big on face-to-face socialization, say, like some writers) crave interaction with other people. For me, if someone makes it through my books, I’d love to know whether they enjoyed it or not.
I know some authors had success with free novels (Abigail Barnett’s The Boss comes to mind; lots of reviews, lots of sales; but the author also has a strong following and that makes all the difference in the world.) in regards to getting sales/reviews (because that magical combination means someone is reading it!) while the majority have eked along, getting giddy when sales hit double/triple digits.
Its like a vacuum in literary space; the consumers eagerly snatch up free work, ignoring any with prices because anything not free doesn’t interest them. This is what I define as literary welfare: people who want want want, but don’t intend to purchase (ever) anything to make a business relationship more than something akin to one’s cousin asking to stay on one’s couch, eating everything, while one is at work. This isn’t a business relationship.
I got no issue with people wanting freebies. Free things are perks! But I think there’s something not quite honest when one gobbles up free items exclusively, never leaving a review (at least!) or ever purchasing a novel to support the author who has poured their soul (hopefully) into the work.
Truth time: I’ve downloaded a free novel, loved it, then purchased it (although I already had it) and the sequel. Because even though I left a review, I enjoyed the story enough (and I’m a groupie of the author. I’m okay with that) to show my adoration financially. I realize a great many people read for pleasure, and when it comes to pleasure, the thought of ‘giving back’ to those who improved one’s day doesn’t really hit hard. I guess to some that getting something for free means it’s worthless in terms of making the author’s day.
So, after mulling about the scads of books people have downloaded of mine, yet sales and reviews are pretty slim, I’ve decided to stop listing my books for free via Kindle. I may have a day down the road when I have a sale and make my work dirt cheap (that’d be the $0.99) for any who are interested. But I plan on keeping my books on the lower end of the price spectrum but not on the cycle I have nowadays with one of my stories being free once a month.
I’d also like to thank those who have read my stories and reviewed them– it’s much appreciated! Same to those who read and bought another one of my novels. That to me, is the best kind of awesome. Not the money aspect, but that the story was enjoyed enough that it stoked a reader’s curiosity to delve further into my admittedly warped mind.
As a writer, if someone reads my work only because its free, that’s kinda disheartening. I’d hope people would enjoy my preview enough to download my freebie because they find it interesting… not because it didn’t cost them a red cent.
Where do you stand on the topic? Do you view free books on Kindle as being like chucking a handful of quarters into a wishing well and never hearing a splash?