If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are Free Books Worth the Cost?


Back in the dark ages of self-publishing (November 30, 2010) I wrote a blog titled Career Risk and Self-Publishing. In it I said that whether or not a book was self-published depended on the author’s financial risk. I also highlighted what I thought was a career risk authors needed to consider:

A new-to-me author has only one chance to impress me. Fail on the first book I read and I’ll never read the second or third. If a self-published author gains my attention and I read their book, they are taking their one chance with me. If it’s only okay, they’ll never get me to read the next novel, which may be great. I know it’s unfair, but my reading life is too short for second chances. I suspect I’m not alone with this triage method of what to read next.

Since that time one of the big changes I have seen is the free e-book giveaway on Amazon. The goal is to get as many people as possible to download your book so it rises in Amazon’s ratings and garners even more downloads. Those who “advertise” in multiple outlets, tweet and have lots of followers to re-tweet, generate thousands of “sales.”

Some of these deals are from authors with a number of traditionally published novels. This free book to get someone interested in your work might be just the thing to jumpstart a career, especially for midlist authors dumped by traditional publishers.

It’s the previously unpublished who self-publish three or four novels within a year that concern me. These authors have taken two approaches. Most seem to use one of their earlier works for the freebie, often the first in a series. I assume the goal is to get people to then purchase the rest of the series.

Some others give away their current book for a short period of time. Presumably they hope people will like the most recent book and buy the earlier ones. This approach makes sense to me. If I enjoy a book by a new (to me) author, I will often pick up earlier books and, assuming they are as good as the first one I read, I’ll inhale the whole series. I just did that with Louise Penny. If I’ve read a couple of good books from an author, I’ll give them a pass if one book is only fair and try them again.

The major risk in these giveaways occurs when the free book is an early work and not of the same quality as later novels. I recently downloaded five free mysteries (no cozies since they are not my preference) and here are my results: excellent reads = 0; good reads = 0; fair reads = 1; did not finish = 4;  authors I will ever read in the future = 0.

I may be cheating myself with these five authors, but I’ll never know. I already have lots of authors I like to read. I’d like to find new authors, but with so many good ones out there, each person gets only one shot.

My first novel (even though I revised it through eleven drafts) will always remain in my virtual bottom drawer—it will never be ready for prime time. That’s a hard thing in this age of self-publishing for an author to say, because some people would surely buy it—but it is not good enough for the current me.

What’s your experience been with free books?

~ Jim

5 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

To answer the question concisely: Mixed, Jim. But then, that is my experience with books with a price tag as well. I rarely buy books that are over $2.99. When I do, the book has been written by a tried and true author. But, at that price point, I've found wonderful books and new authors.

Unlike you, I hate when an author gives a reduce price on the third in the series because I don't want to start in the middle. If they are going to give me a freebie, do so on the first book. I know the first in the series may not be written as well as the third. But if the book can pass, and I buy the second and it's better, then the author probably has caught a reader.

Alyx Morgan said...

I don't have an e-reader, Jim, so I can't answer your question. However, I will say that there are some authors who do seem to get better over time. I know James Patterson's first book was crap, though it wasn't until I'd been reading his other books that I found this out. But, had I read his first book first, like you I'm not sure I'd have read any others.

Gloria Alden said...

I don't have an e-reader,either, but I have bought books from new authors at conferences. Some I've liked and others not enough to buy anymore - and these were all traditionally published. I have bought some self-published books with the same rate of liking and not liking so much.

Warren Bull said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren Bull said...

Joel Goldman gave away his first book in a series for a limited time when sales of his books leveled off. He generated a new set of readers and his sales took off again, Robert W. Walker offers one book in his various series for free for a limited times and generates more sales for himself. What these authors have in common is they write well.

My experience with free books from self-published writers is similar to Jim's — I will not buy any books from them because their writing is average at best.

The conclusion for writers early in their career is don't put out a sub-standard book. And, your opinion of your own book is not what matters.