Free Stuff

Or, To Give Away or Not Give Away

As writers (at least as writers in the U.S.), we are expected to give away a portion of our product. We give away signed books–btw, you have four more days to sign up to get one of mine–ebooks, short stories, novellas, etc.

And I don’t even want to put in writing what someone asked me to give away today. Let’s just say the request that landed in my inbox made me think long and hard about the value of a FREE THING.

Opinions, and Experiences, Vary

There are authors who have drawn a line in the sand and said, no more. There are authors who swear by offering freebies as a recipe for growth.

In my completely unofficial, anecdotal opinion, the efficacy of giving away books depends on the author, the quantity, and the reason. With a big enough publicity push behind you and your publisher shouldering the cost, the visibility boost can be effective. You might end up ranking very high in search. You might get hundreds or thousands new reviews. Well… that’s the publisher’s business.

I think authors who take on a chunk of publicity themselves should not give away books TOO MUCH. It’s fun to win a book after signing up for a newsletter or entering a giveaway. I like winning books and I’m okay with giving away my books to a winner because I know it’s exciting to receive them. A book won in a contest is special because the winner might be one in several thousand who entered. Or even if it’s one in ten, winning it makes it special.

A Giveaway Usually Serves a Purpose. Free Stuff Without a Purpose is Just Free Stuff

But today I was asked to simply give my books. With postage. And you know what? I’m not going to. Frankly, I’m working very hard not be offended. After all, the person who asked chose me and wants to read my book. They just think I should give it to them for free. And I think that’s wrong.

Yes, books are expensive. But there are libraries. And if your local library doesn’t have my book, I would LOVE it if you asked them to buy it. I love libraries. LOVE them. If you wait a bit after a book launches, the price goes down. My debut is $1.99 for the ebook right this very minute and until February 28th.

I guess the only thing I can do at this point is turn to Elvis (as one is wont) who reputedly mused “why buy the cow if I can get the milk for free?” Welp, if everyone keeps getting the milk for free, there won’t be any money to feed the cow, or house it, or care for it in any way, and it’s gonna die.

Go on, tell me your thoughts.

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Catherine Maiorisi

Author

Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

One comment

  1. I think people value free things less than that what they paid for. I know I’m less likely to read books I find in the convention bookbag and I don’t bring most of them home anymore. I’ve done a couple Goodreads giveaways that didn’t result in an equal amount of reviews or bumped my numbers. So at some point it’s diminishing returns. But I scored a free ARC of IQ at a workshop and became a devoted Joe Ide fan.

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