My Book is Free? WTF? But I worked hard!

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

The whole “what do I charge for my book” thing is a debate that will rage on forever. (just as it did ever since the first book was printed)  Ultimately, the market will end up deciding what consumers  will pay for eBooks, not us writers.  Today you can get my novel for free, thanks to the KDP Select program, which allows me to offer my work at no cost to readers for a few days each three months.  At the same time, superstar writers like Larson, King, Cussler, etc. are selling their eBook titles for prices that are the same as the softcover version.  What gives?

Bookbuyers rejoice !   The rise of eBooks created a dynamic in the marketplace that is playing out across many, many markets.  What will consumers pay for digital content when there are competing choices that cost nothing.  Just look at the music biz.  A decade or more ago, no one could have imagined that music stores would be almost non-existent in 2012.  Artists and music publishers had a true “cost of goods sold” on their profit and loss statement.  There had to be a physical product created in order for end users to “consume” the product – a CD  (and before that, something really bizarre, a vinyl LP, but I’m showing my age).   That is not the case now.  Digital music files are free all over the place.  Itunes changed the dynamics of the biz by offering singles for .99, and now it is the biggest seller of music.   Artists give away samples of their music to entice listeners to buy more.   No doubt there are a gazillion more options out there for free music from all types of artists that previously had very little chance of getting their product out into the world.  All hail the mighty consumer.

And the same process is playing out in the world of book publishing.  Let me say it from the highest mountaintop that I am the furthest thing from a industry expert that could exist in the publishing world.  Take my comments for exactly what they’re worth – very little.  So now eBooks, because they can be replicated for zero cost, can easily be given away for free.  That opportunity, the chance that a newbie writer could get their product out in the world to thousands of potential readers, is tremendous.  I’m not having to pay for the printing of physical books and incur this risk and then give them away in the hopes that it will be a good investment.  All I have to do is push a few buttons and Amazon does the rest.  Then potential readers grab a free copy, and maybe they’ll read it.  But maybe they won’t.  Either way, I’ve gotten my work out there with no risk.  Count me as a winner and a big fan of the new world of publishing.

  1. Excellent view on the matter.

  2. Mary Ellen says:

    As a first time author I found this very daunting to decided what to charge for a book. I am self publishing but the publisher helped me lean towards pricing but the e book was the cheapest and I find that is where people today will go to purchase a book and thought that the best thing for a first time author. I really like e books and believe this is the future.

  3. JohnC says:

    I’ve taken a punt on a lot of eBooks that were free/less than £2 and I’ve not been disappointed yet. It’s led me to discover a range of authors that I would otherwise have missed. I’ll be off to Amazon to look up your good self in a moment.

    • andyholloman says:

      hey john, thanks!!! i love the difference b/w the brit’s english and ours! always entertaining…. over here, if someone says they “punted”, it means they
      decided to give up, or pass on a thing (the terms comes from our football, not the real football- which u guys play) ….. thanks for the chuckle and thanks
      for checking out the book….my freebie day is over but if you’d like a free eBook copy, just email me….. thanks again!!

  4. I do not agree with your statement, especially this: “Either way, I’ve gotten my work out there with no risk. Count me as a winner and a big fan of the new world of publishing.”

    Ask your readers if they would do their job for free. Can you guess the answer?

    You have indeed gotten your work out there. But there is a huge risk: Not being able to sell it. If people can it for free, why would they even shell a couple of bucks for it?

    It’s one thing to want exposure, it is quite another to accept any kind of compromise. Artists need to make money, period. They work hard for their art, so they deserve respect.

  5. Great thought-provoking post.
    I write non-fiction books on taxes and business (I’m an accountant) and I see my books as a launching place to build my reputation in hopes that someone hires me for a business consultation or speaking event.
    I’m not offering my books for free, but several are very low cost, because, as you say, the COGS is so low on ebooks. (nice use of accounting lingo by the way!)

    Carol Topp, CPA
    Author of Business Tips and Taxes for Writers

  6. Pete Denton says:

    It is annoying that the established authors books are on sale for the same and sometimes more than the paper version. That surely has got to change. No storage costs, printing costs, postage costs. Give us a break!

    I’ve downloaded quite a few cheaper/free books and enjoyed reading them. Keep with your crusade and best of luck with your book.

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