As you might know, my newest collection of dark horror/sci-fi and fantasy, The Lure of Dangerous Women, is available for free on Amazon right now. It’s a two-day freebie fest that ends tonight — if you haven’t already picked up a copy, I hope you’ll do so! No need to comment or even click like unless you want to!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently about free books, pirated books, and the economics of ebooks, so I thought I’d make a little Q&A for those who are interested (and, of course, if you have anything to share, please feel free to add a comment. This is just my Nof1, meaning my experience only, so I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of things).

Why Give Away Your Books?

Giving away books is a choice (unlike pirating — see next question). I give away books for a number of reasons (and I should say that in the particular case of Dangerous Women, it’s actually the publisher’s decision as to when and how to give away books).

  • I like to reward my readers, to say thank you for their support and previous purchases. Free books do that, loud and clear.
  • Giving away free books helps you find new readers, people who wouldn’t otherwise hear about you or be willing to take a risk on you (after all, we’ve all been burned by buying books (or anything) online only to find out they weren’t what we expected.
  • Giving away free books also connects me with my readers. I’ve had a couple of readers say that they especially loved the personal Story Notes from the book, which was something I almost didn’t include. This kind of feedback helps me understand my readers better and create better books in the future. It also makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Giving away free books puts the book on the “map,” which in this case is the bestseller list. As I write this, Dangerous Women is #19 on the Kindle List for Literary Fiction in the US (and the numbers world-wide are right around there) and in the top 500 free Kindle books. This is great publicity for me as an author and for the book in general.
  • A certain portion of readers will also click the LIKE button on Amazon, or put up a review. Considering how important Amazon reviews have become in the purchasing choices of readers, it is always good to have as many reviews (both good and bad) as you can get.

Isn’t Pirating the Same Thing?

Not at all. One free book doesn’t equal another. In the “give away” case, an author and publisher are deciding together to make a book available for free (for all the reasons I outlined above). They set a time, pay attention to the ratings, and do a lot of work to get the book in front of readers.

When a book is pirated, it’s stolen. Not just from the author and the publisher, but from the readers who did the right thing and paid for a book. There are no benefits. Someone who steals a book isn’t as likely to review it. The sales don’t show up anywhere. And, as an author, it just makes me incredibly sad to see my readers devaluing writing (my own or someone else’s) that way.

What Is Up With This Kindle Thing? I Don’t Have One!

You don’t have to own a physical Kindle in order to read the collection. You can download the Kindle reading app for free on almost any device. I don’t own a Kindle. I read everything on my Mac and my phone.

I Want a Hard Copy! I Like Real Books!

Me too. Here’s how you help get the hard copy into your hot little hands: You download the free ebook, even if you’re never going to read it (Ack! I can’t believe I just wrote that!). We’re planning to make a hard copy of Dangerous Women available soon and the better the book does as an ebook, the more hard copies will be available.

What About Your Autograph! I Want That Too!

I will happily sign anything you send to me. Okay, I take that back. I will happily sign almost anything you send to me. But did you know that I can also sign your ebooks? Kindlegraph is a cool, free site where you essentially ‘send’ me your Kindle and I autograph it for you over the internet. Cool, huh?

Got more questions? Ask away. I’ve got answers! I also hope you’ll pick up a free copy of The Lure of Dangerous Women if you haven’t already done so. I’d love to know what you think!

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.