To Free or Not To Free?

Books and Readings

That is the question an author was asking in a book marketing group on LinkedIn. There were many opinions as is often the case with any group. The author was concerned about giving away his book because of all the hard work he put into it. I could hardly blame him because I understand the process.

In case, you don’t understand what goes into creating a book, let me explain it to you. There is research whether it is fiction or nonfiction, in nonfiction the author usually has many years of education and experience behind them. A fiction writer could spend a fortune learning about various writing techniques. A book requires many, many, many hours to write, rewrite, and rewrite. It takes time to find and craft the perfect words into a sentence.

A few authors find publishers, who will foot the bill, unfortunately, they also have control over the content, cover, and the title – even if the author does not like it. Many authors are choosing the self-publishing route to become Indie authors and the cost comes out of their pocket. What are the costs? Editing is a must for a good book and it is hard to edit your own work. I am fortunate that my Father, who is a retired English professor and editor, will edit my first draft. I have another editor and she does my final draft. Some authors will pay out hundreds to thousands of dollars to get the editing done.

Covers sells the books, but a homemade cover rarely does. Book covers can cost from $35.00 to $500.00 depending on the cover designer. Technical savoy authors will format their own eBooks and paperbacks. I have done my paperbacks, but the eBooks formatting looks too difficult for me. I rather pay someone than spend days trying to figure it out. The cost can be anywhere from $35.00 to $125.00.

Book covers, editing, and formatting are the must do’s for a book, but there can be other costs. Some authors will pay a company to do the three basics or more and that can run into a lot of money. Do you understand now why the author was having difficulties deciding whether or not to give his book free, even if it was just a couple of days?

People who read books do not understand this process and want free. I understand why readers do not want to spend a lot of money for books because there is nothing worse than spending your hard earn money on a book that you feel is awful. That is why I feel the middle ground for an author should be to give a short story, novella, or short eBook for free. This way the reader gets a feel for your writing style. Or have an occasional special on the book. If an author is really good most people will gobble up all their books, while waiting impatiently for their next one to come out.

The next area that comes up to free or not to free is psychic readings. People have said that it is a gift from God and you should not charge for it. However, having a voice like an angel and tremendous athletic abilities is also a gift from God; and look at what singers and football players get paid! I can understand not wanting to spend your hard earned money on a possible bad psychic, which is why you need to shop around, and/or get a referral.

Just like authors need to give samples of their writing, psychics can give a mini reading. Psychic lines often give their new customers three minute free or a discount on the first reading. Psychics answer questions in magazine columns. Some readers have radio shows and give callers sample readings. We sometimes get new clients from this avenue. The bad part about free is that it is often not valued and taken for granted. How often do you eat a food sample at the grocery store or food court in the mall and actually buy that product?

I personally do not mind doing some free, I do mind when it is expected of me. One male stranger emailed me once and wrote a couple of paragraphs about himself and his problems. He proceeds to ask me a couple of questions, he went on to say that he was too busy to speak over the phone, but if I answered his questions okay, he might book a session in the future. My response was that is why I do email readings and gave him the link to my email website page. Surprise, I never heard from him again.

Another example was a couple of months ago a woman (with a lot of nerve) called and asked for a free fifteen minute reading. I responded, “This is a business and I need to get paid for my time.” You would think that she should have hung up the phone, but noooo, she went on to ask me if I knew of a psychic that would give her a free fifteen minute reading! Here was my answer, “Are you going to come over and clean my house? Is the grocery store going to give you free food? Nobody I know is going to give you a free reading, they deserved to be paid for their time and skill.” She had no comment after that.

The point of this whole article is there has to be some balance between free and paid. The next time you want something for nothing, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself, “Would you give away your time and skill.” Often things you pay for feel more valuable. When someone gives you something for free, please be grateful for their gift.

I do believe that it is good karma to give some things for free. I have the free class “The 3 F’s of Love” that you get when you subscribed to my newsletter. And of course, this author has a free eBook “Pamela’s Love Collection.” You can find the links to the book on my website or at Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes and Nobles, Google Play, Kobo, and Amazon (US only). On my website www.pamelacummins.com you will find the information about my weekly radio show so you can call in for an answer to your one question. You can submit a free love or dream question that could be chosen for two other monthly columns I write in Bellesprit Magazine.

This article is from Off the Cuff E-Zine September Issue

 

 

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4 comments on “To Free or Not To Free?

  1. Not a lot was happening for my ebooks on Amazon until they price matched Last Flight For Craggy (LFFC)to free. When that happened, I got 271 hits in one day. Then nice reviews started. I went on to write another 5 in the series plus a spin off series, Deep Space Intelligence. I still get asked to write more Craggy. LFFC is perma free and will always be so. L F F C has clocked up 93 reviews on Amazon.com alone so far , half of them 5 star reviews. So yes, freebies can help sales.

  2. I hope they do keep reading. Writers, especially newbie Indies, must realize it is tougher than it has ever been to sell books. Any self-published newbie putting a first ebook out should consider letting it float free for awhile to get feedback and gain readers and possibly nice reviews. This can only be done in a roundabout way with Amazon, but doable. I usually put novellas and shorts out for free and this also helps and this often gets readers heading in the right direction. One thing I always stress to new writers is “perceived value” One writer I “met” recently put too big a price on his one book, a novella and wonders why it doesn’t sell. He priced on the basis that he spent 2,600 $ for a cover and editing. Yeah, right. Like that makes sense. Why buy his book from an unknown when you can get a J Archer, S King, D Brown, etc, for less money for a full sized book for the same or less $$? Used right, freebies can be a good tool.

    • I agree! I understand how hard it is to give your one and only eBook free, which why a free short story or novella to introduce the eBook works well. People rarely will spend money on a new author unless they know them personally or thru Social Media. For myself, it is not so much money for books, but my time. I subscribe to Oyster books to read and support Smashwords authors, along with well-known authors. If the first or second chapter doesn’t grab me, I’m on to the next book because my reading time is limited.

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