Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Giving Your Book Away by Morgan Mandel

Many authors run contests in which they give away a free print sample of an entire book, sometimes through a blog, or other people's blogs, or even on places like Facebook or at drawings in stores and other venues.

I've also seen authors who give away free ebooks at Smashwords or on Amazon.

I'm wondering - Is this a good thing? Does it bring in sales in the long run?

In a way it seems if people get it for free they won't value it as much, yet in another way it seems if a reader likes what he or she reads, that person may come searching for more by that author.

What do you think?

Morgan Mandel
http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/

20 comments:

liana laverentz said...

I think it's a good thing to give print copies away. Which reminds me, I'm due to draw a winner for August! I'd much rather give a book away than something else in the hopes that one day they will buy my book. Giving away ebooks, I'm still leery of. Call me old fashioned that way :)

L. K. Below said...

I think giving your book away is a good thing. Not in the sense of "selling" a free book for a limited amount of time, but in the sense of doing draws and giveaways. In this way, your readers have a chance to win your book for free. And if they don't this time, they can always wait for your next drawing.

Giving your book away will earn you readers. For instance, I just found a new author because I won her book. Would I have picked it up if I hadn't won it? Maybe. But, with the way I've tightened my belt in regards to books, probably not. My spending these days is generally reserved for authors I know and love. But if I hadn't have read her book, I never would have know to add her to my list. By winning one of her books, she's gotten one reader to start buying her backlist to read her other ones.

From that experience alone, I think this is a good move.

Mary Jane Frderickson said...

I am just a reader but I like the contests and drawings as it gets me reading authors I might not read otherwise. Since I like the read an authors books in order I then have to go back and order their first ones. I only enter the contests for books I would be interested in so I am pretty sure I will like them. I am only a reader but often suggest books to friends in hopes of getting more readers for the authors.

Juli Monroe said...

I'm planning to give away (permanently) the first book in a series I'm writing. I figure it's like a gateway drug. If people like it, they'll keep coming back for the characters. J. A. Konrath, on his blog, says it's a very effective way to market a book.

Ginger Simpson said...

Giving away books can work for you or against you because they reveal your style to the prize winner. Maybe they won't like my historical and tune me out, but will they try any of the other genres I've written. Who knows. I've given away books and never heard anything from the people who won them. That makes me wonder if they just trashed the PDF and didn't bother. On the other hand, I've received a few glowing emails that I've kept to read over and over. :)

As for free reads...Google displays so much of my books already on their "read" site, I don't think I need to give away a free read. I'll just direct them to where they can read a good portion of my work.

Mona Risk said...

I have given away many of my books. I call it good publicity. Nothing please me more than readers sending thank you notes with a little review saying they like it.

Anonymous said...

I personally think that giving away free books is good publicity. The recipient will mention it to friends and no one knows how many people that is and who they mention it to and the places they are from will vary and thus more news of the book is spread. These days many people will mention it on Facebook, some will have rather open Facebook pages and more will learn that way too, not to mention any mention of it in other groups. I have been the fortunate recipient of some free books and I always mention it to bookstore managers/owners, librarians and everyone I know who likes the type of book in question (or should). The joy of it is infectious, I think, and helps spread interest. It is one of those things that cannot be easily quantified. I remember giving out an author's card at a show I was helping at to a 12-14 year old boy and wondering who he will show that card to in 20 years. So whether his father bought the book that week or not that card will likely go on. I have kept some of the cards my grandfather kept from the 19-teens. In his day those weren't business cards but social cards from people he met but I rather see some of these promotional books and business cards, etc. going on into the future like that.
BrendaW.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm a saver. I keep every book I get that's autographed. Free makes it even better, but I can't afford to give lots away myself. I have donated one book per conference, or at a special event, but only one each time. Most of the time I like to give pro items such as caps or tote bags with cover art, which I get at Vistaprint.com for only the shipping cost during their sales.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi,
I have given away copies of my books as prizes, hopefully it leads to the recipients liking the way I write and coming back for more.

Regard

Margaret

Jacqueline Seewald said...

An interesting discussion. I've given away books and intend to do so again. I want to encourage readership and name recognition not for just one book but for my novels in general.

Lynda Fitzgerald said...

I frequently give away prior books. As far as I'm concerned, we have to get our writing out there in order to build a reader base. Thanks to my publishers, I can buy them at a deeply discounted price, and giving them away is TAX DEDUCTIBLE! I love that part.

Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Definitely a good idea. Readers lend books they like, and as Lynda points out, it's tax deductible.

Ellis Vidler said...

As a relatively unknown author, I believe the exposure your book gets from giveaways is valuable. You have to hope the book intrigues people and they share it or at least mention your name.

Helen Ginger said...

As someone who receives free books (from online giveaways, authors or publicists), I think it's a good idea. I keep them on my desk and as I read them, I write reviews. I put those reviews on my blog and I'm trying to get better about also putting them on B&N, Amazon and GoodReads, so that seems like it's good for the author.

Helen

Other Lisa said...

I think contests promote interest, and certainly it makes sense to give copies to bloggers who write about books.

KK Brees said...

I've entered contests where the prize was a book. I even won a book (Patricia Stoltey's Desert Hedge Murders and Lonnie Cruise's '57 Heaven, to be precise.

Love their writing, love their books. When mine comes out, I'll do the same.

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

I'm running a giveaway on my blog at this very moment. So far I've had 35 comments as entries, so it's definitely gained attention. Since this is the first in a series I'm hoping they'll love it enough to buy the second book.

Lisabet Sarai said...

I normally give away two or three copies of each new release, through contests. Readers really enjoy it, and as someone else commented, it has the potential to attract new fans.

I only give away ebooks. Postage for print books would kill me. I know that piracy is an issue but I (perhaps naively) believe that someone who cares about an author enough to give her their email is unlikely to post the book on a pirate site.

Best,
Lisabet

Karen said...

I think drawings for books and offering ARCs are all to the good. I don't subscribe to the theory that if I didn't pay for it, I won't value it. I never did understand where that theory came from and no one has ever told me that they viewed something as having less value because they won it.

I love the idea. I'm not advocating giving away copies to everyone; however, a drawing for a copy or two now and then is a fun thing.

I've won a couple of times and enjoyed reading what I won and then proceeded to read the rest of that author's books. I may have won the first one, but I paid for the rest. I might never have read that author without that fun introduction.

Good deal all round.

Rambler of Words~SAD BUT TRUE said...

I am an author breaking into the writing world and have found through sharing my free previews and free electronic reads that it has helped in print sales. I enjoy sharing my free works and the reviews that I have received by doing this. Every day is a new adventure of ideas that I learn in the writing industry.I believe that free promotions and contests are a benefit that pays in the end.