I know I’ve been quiet lately; I’ve been totally engrossed in a crash course of learning how to give books away. You’d think everyone likes a freebie, but there are OH SO MANY free books out there, you can’t just put an apologetic tweet on Twitter saying er, hello, would you like my book? Free?
Most writers have the subconscious but unshakeable belief their books are jewels of the highest quality, which need only to be brought to the attention of an anxiously-waiting world. Most of the experts trying to shift them for you cynically consider them the equivalent of an old sofa on the pavement. The reality, one has to hope, falls somewhere between the two.
Once I started delving into the subject of free books I was genuinely gobsmacked at (a) how many options there are (b) how many writers are giving their books away (c) how often (d) how far off trend my books are and (e) how difficult it is. The best free book websites won’t even look at your book if it doesn’t already have multiple reviews and a top rating, which seems completely puzzling to someone who was only thinking of doing it to get reviews and an improved rating in the first place.
I’ve done a giveaway once before, on one of my short stories, with I think 4 tweets on the subject, and shifted around 100 copies, so obviously the research needed to be done. I’ve now registered with any number of websites so that I can send them One Two when the promotion starts. I’ve joined about twenty Facebook promo pages so I can post the details, ditto.
This is like preparing for the A-Z blog challenge in April all over again, as I prepare lots of utterly spontaneous-sounding little tweets, posts, blurbs and mini-synopses to paste into place – I’m guessing the end of October will be an absolute blur of activity.
And yet – now I am coming across sensible, intelligent articles which agree, along with some of the websites I investigated, that I should be paying to give my book away. I’m having a little trouble getting my head around that, to be honest. It took me a while just to accept giving books away was good for sales, and I’ve attached a click-on link for a good article by Martin Crosbie on the subject of free promotions
Here’s another good article, by Rex Jameson, on How to give books away. Both articles were found on my new favourite website: Favourite, because the administrator emailed me back to tell me my blurb on One Two was crappy, and how to re-write it. That’s gold. So if you want a fab website for Freebie Fridays, pick up your free books via Indies Unlimited
I pay for my Grasshopper Lawn covers, and love the results. I pay for editing, after the many blushes of releasing One Two in January without professional editing; then picking up error after error after error and a review pointing out how desperately it needed it. At least with eBooks you can change the book as often as necessary – printing an unedited book must be heart-breaking, although at least the minimum-thousand-copy print runs of the past no longer apply. But paying to give the book away? Really? There’s a relevant up-to-the-minute article on the same website Is Free Over?
More research is necessary. Well, and more money. Writing is my passionate hobby, and no totally engrossing, thoroughly enjoyable, hobby comes without a price tag. Few hobbies actually pay back a few pennies here and there, or can be shared with people you have never met, so those are definite perks. But right now I’m deflated. I’ll give the promo a fair go, because it’s interesting and useful experience. I’ll put out the third book, because it’s the best so far, but if it doesn’t ‘take’, writing will go back to being a private hobby.
As for Five Six Pick Up Sticks, it’s back from being edited, and bleeding red ink on nearly every page, but the death of one thousand cuts is mainly superficial; no huge rewrites needed, and it will be published at end October as planned. As all of the above pain is to launch it into a world not completely indifferent to the series, fingers crossed…
Goodness, Elizabeth I hadn’t thought of this from your perspective.
I tell you this so that you may be aware of a member of the reluctant public’s point of view.
When I got my ipad I was eager to download the kindle app and then downloaded a few free books to try it out. They were on the “most popular” list and I began reading with anticipation only to be hugely disappointed by a poorly written, grammatically incorrect and factually inaccurate story that I persevered with to approximately half way through before deleting it.
The second book I read to the end was fine although the story timeline was woefully poorly thought through and many of the spelling and grammar errors had been left uncorrected.
Another two, after perusal of the first few pages, were poorly written smut.
Sadly, I’m now of the opinion that, where free books for your kindle are concerned, you get what you pay for! Ironically, I keep getting emails asking me to review the books but amazon refuses to accept my less than complimentary review because I haven’t paid for them …. what’s that all about?
I’ve probably been unlucky and until reading your blog post I admit it never occurred to me that there are genuinely good writers out there who are offering free books. Good luck and I hope to find your eloquent tomes in the near future.
Absolutely no denying ebooks aren’t up to the quality of professionally published ones, and even some professional ones have been hastily scanned into ebooks, with some hilarious results where the scanning software has misread a word!
The average ebook has only had one editor (a traditionally published one is worked on, and double-checked, by several) so there will ALWAYS be annoying glitches for the reader. I download a few free ebooks every week for my commuting, and although I check the samples carefully, I’ve had many disappointments too. (Even where the reviews were rapturous.)
However, I’ve had some great finds as well, books that kept me absorbed from station to station, reluctant to get off the train, even when they’ve had glitches and oddities, so do keep trying because there really are some readable books out there.
I review all the time on Amazon, even on the free books I’ve taken (reviewing as Elegsabiff, my twitter name) but there are around 4 million* registered reviewers and they get a bit beady-eyed about reviewers generally. I think the ruling is you have to have bought at least one product to activate your account, but after that you’re fine, you don’t even need to have bought the product (or book) through them. If you’ve bought anything, any product, via Amazon, review that first, and then you’ll be added to the list 🙂
*I’m really moving up the ranks. I’m in the top 90 thousand!
I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from Amazon which probably explains a lot!
As I feared … I’ve been unlucky.
I shall try to find your fabulous tomes and see if we can get you into the top 89,000 😉
By the way – want to become a beta reader? You obviously have the requisite love of books and a good eye!
What’s a “beta reader”?
Haha my tomes are not excellent, please lower your expectations! No, lower than that. Lower. Okay. The links are on the About tab, or (I think we follow each other on Twitter?) on my profile – but remember One Two is on free promo soon (I think 25th) so you should wait until then unless of course you want to spend actual money sooner and become an accredited reviewer. 🙂
A beta reader reads the book before it’s published and usually (eek) before the final edit, and lets the writer know where the worst glitches are, where they were puzzled, or bored, where it needs tightening up and where it needs filling out. Feedback ranges from a straight reader opinion to thought-out suggestions and, in the absence of that traditional publishing team, is pretty much the most important factor in the production of an ebook. Good beta readers = better book. Ideally you’d read in your favourite genres rather than manfully taking on something you’d never normally read. My stuff may genuinely horrify you but there isn’t an ebook writer out there who wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, be anxious to have more beta readers – especially anyone writing a series! There seems to be only one book on the subject on Amazon, you can only get a tiny fragment on the 10% sample preview but that explains it a bit : http://getbook.at/BetaReader
I’ll take a look and thank you for explaining beta readers. It sounds like a great job!
Yes, we do follow one another on twitter. I was BalkissockLodge but now @NorthernAspect. i think that we were chatting recently about your three mother of the bride outfits. I hope that was you or I’ll be very embarrassed soon!
Thanks for sharing this Elizabeth .. a tough ruddy road indeed.
Och, we’re strong. I’ll give books away if I have to hit people on the head with them first, eh? Well – virtually speaking –