Why give something away for free?
A reader recently posed that question. And it’s absolutely valid. I’ll try to explain my logic – which should not be extrapolated out to other authors as they have their own marketing strategies.
I’ve written a series. I didn’t intend to. I had a few book ideas swimming around in my mind for years. I’d write a couple of chapters for this book, add a scene to another, come up with some random idea for a third. Nothing ever gelled. I moved around in that nebulous space for fifteen years. Then, ten years ago, I decided the time was right to take writing seriously. I started writing a book, wrangled a secondary character who wanted their story told first, finished a book…then came up with something completely different and wrote that book.
Then, after I sent that one off to a publisher, I kept writing. Best piece of advice I ever got as a writer: write the next book. So I did. Then I picked up some of those half-written manuscripts and dusted them off – and actually finished several! And then I sat down and put all those ideas floating around in my head on paper. I had exactly fifty stories I wanted to tell. 50 books to write. And since they were all set in the same small town, I decided to make them into a series.
The publisher rejected my book, but by then I’d written 21 full or partial other books in the series. I’d gotten a hang for it and had created a world with people who were absolutely real to me. And I’d created more secondary characters who also wanted books – my series bible was up to almost 75 stories.
Knowing I’d never find a publisher for 75 stories, I decided to self-publish. I hired an editor (a critical step) and then I set about learning everything I could about self-publishing. I attended conferences, workshops, met writers who would become mentors, and generally absorbed stuff for years. Meanwhile, under a different penname, I wrote gay romances set in that world, using characters I’d created.
Finally, this year, I was ready to launch the first few books. Now, starting a new penname means no one knows me. The advice given by most gurus is to create a newsletter. One way to get people to sign up for your newsletter is to give them a book. Some authors do short stories, or some kind of special content. I’d written another book for a publisher they’d rejected. A perfectly good story that required a good edit. Once I did that, I had a 65k word book that I’d written for fun. Now, I paid to edit it and get a professional cover, but I didn’t have a lot invested in the book. I was happy to put it out as a prequel to the series and ask, gently, for people to sign up for my newsletter in exchange for a copy of the book. People can always unsubscribe, of course, but I try to give them a reason to stick around. My hope is they’ll read that book. And pick up the next book in the series.
Today, though, I’m giving away book 1 of the series on Amazon. Now, I love this book as much as all the others. Although it’s book 1, I only wrote it last year. I’ve had time to settle into my small town and had an idea of a series arc I want to create. A reason for readers to keep coming back. I also hoped to pull in some of the readers of my gay romance books, so I had a few cameos with favorite characters. I’m giving away that book today in the hopes readers will pick it up, read it, love it, and want more. It’s a risk, for sure. With thousands and thousands of free books out there, what are the odds I’m going to find the right reader at the right time? That they’ll fall in love with my book and be so intrigued by the secondary character that they can’t wait to read her story? (That character was always quite mysterious and although her book was written first, I realized I needed a bigger lead in.)
I hope that explains how I’m trying to launch my new penname. Delilah’s been great about letting me share the journey with you and I appreciate you hanging in there as I show you how the sausage gets made (or how you launch a new penname/series in 2023…)
To celebrate, I’m giving away not just the free book, but a $5 Amazon gift card. Let me know – what is your thought of free books? Do you think they have less value? Or do they give you the opportunity to try a new author you might not otherwise? Drop a comment and a random winner will win the GC.
Love in Cedar Valley Series
What’s better than love in the beautiful Cedar Valley in British Columbia, Canada? Find small town romances with a touch of angst, a bit of heat, and a lot of heart…
Each novel is a standalone, but they are best read in order:
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper (A small town interracial romance)
The Making of Marnie Jones (A small town enemies-to-lovers romance)
The Redemption of Remy St. Claire (A small town single-father fake-marriage romance)
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper
Loriana Harper is the head librarian of the Mission City Public Library. She considers herself a matchmaker in this little town in British Columbia—especially for her employees. When a gorgeous technician arrives to update their computers, she can’t help musing about who might be his perfect match. Except, the more time she spends with Mitch, the more she wants him for herself.
Mitch Alexander left in disgrace from a good job in California. He’s come to this small town to make a new start where no one knows him. Although he has no plans to get involved with anyone, he’s drawn to the nosy, vivacious librarian who makes him smile. The local matchmaker might go overboard, but she has good intentions. Except he’s not in the market for any match, unless it’s with her.
When Mitch’s past catches up with him, and the police come calling, he has to decide if he’ll stay with Loriana or leave to save her from the taint of being associated with him. Loriana’s not ready to let her new man go without a fight—but maybe this is a match that wasn’t meant to be.
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper is an older-woman age-gap interracial romance with a touch of angst and a large cat named Plato. The book is the first in the Love in Cedar Valley series set in a small town in British Columbia, Canada.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BVL3X4JZ
Add it to GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/122872288-the-luminosity-of-loriana-harper
About the Author
Gabbi Powell has been a lover of romance since she first put pen to paper in the eighth grade to write her first romance. She writes her novels while living in Beautiful British Columbia with her trusty ChinPoo dog a as companion. She also writes gay romances as Gabbi Grey and contemporary dark erotic BDSM novels as Gabbi Black.
Newsletter sign-up: https://sendfox.com/gabbipowell
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/gabbi.powell.9/
I like free books. I also agree they give the reader a chance to read other authors, other genres or even stories they normally wouldn’t give a second glance at. I must add that the plot must be enticing enough to picque my curiosity to pursue getting the free book. I get daily emails for free books and leave most behind because they just don’t interest me.
My problem has been working in my last department 6 days a week from 2019 until 1/17/23 when I was laid off from my job of 26 years. With a hour+ commute each way (into work on 5:00AM bus and 3:30 or 4:00PM bus home) I no longer used the time to read. I used it to sleep. Now once I catch up on all things neglected, I plan to get back to reading.
By the way, your personal journey to publishing is amazing. Wishing you continued good luck.
I enjoy free books… but I am picky… definitely gives me a taste of unknown authors’ work… also helps my budget.
Can be interesting if it’s a complete story. Some authors market it as “free” when it’s just some excerpt
I love a free book! I’ll be honest though, I’m so busy these days that my pile of free books just keeps getting bigger. I like places like NetGalley or BookSprout that hold my feet to the fire to get a review out before the book publishes. I also like winning from Goodreads or from an author’s blog because I carry a certain amount of guilt if I don’t get the book read. I am also a member of a select group of ARC teams that I am dedicated to reading on time and reviewing.
I love free books they give me the opportunity to try a new author that I might not otherwise try. I love finding new authors to try.
Free books are a great way to discover new authors and series. I have read free books and then gone on to purchase books by that author.
I’ve started reading and loving many authors after either winning a copy of their book or after finding them with a free book promotion. I think the reason so many authors are willing to do that occasionally is because it can work really well to hook new readers! I think actually, this may have been how I stumbled across your work originally, Gabbi, and I’m definitely a fan now!
Good luck on your new journey. I hope you don’t feel like you have a split personality, lol. Congrats on your releases!
I like free books. They do give me an opportunity to try a new author. The only problem is there are too many and not enough time.
I think free books are a great way to try a new author. I have a limited book budget so they really help. I have tried free books in the past and wound up fully enjoying a new series.
Free books are like an amuse bouche to tempt me to order the rest of the menu of that author’s books.