The Power of Free

I haven’t written much about writing and publishing on this blog – and there are a lot of reasons for that.

The primary reason is…


Ahem. What was I saying?

Right. I don’t blog a lot about writing and publishing. Partly because giving advice about the subject isn’t something I am normally passionate about and also because WHO AM I.


I mean, really. I’m no, er…who’s popular right now? John Green? Gillian Andersen? (Oh wait, that’s the X-Files lady. I mean the other Gillian with the book and the Ben Affleck-y movie.)

But seriously, I’m a first-time author who chose the somehow-still-controversial self-pub route. I have no delusions about being an authority on anything.

And yet, today I’m going to share a little something that some “experts” may not agree with.

I share, because I know a lot of my readers are writers, and sharing our experiences is a great way to learn.

There’s debate about whether one should give away their work for free. That to do so gives the public the idea that it doesn’t hold value.

And I get that.


And if you have entered the world of writing to make money from your art – which is a totally valid thing to do – I can definitely understand the concern.

I probably even AGREE with the idea of not giving your work away when it comes to freelance work for publications and the like.

For me, however, novel writing has proved to be a different beast.

There are a LOT of books out there. Visibility is an issue for new authors. Even the traditionally published are hidden in the over abundance of books available.

When I first published The Ruth Valley Missing, I did research on what it takes to get a book “out there”. There was a lot of self-promotion, blog tours, advertising services, ad infinitum (or, more accurately, ad nauseam)…

I didn’t have funds to invest in this. (Roof over head and food in belly were priority one.)

The idea of self-promoting all over the interwebs made me feel a bit sick.

My feelings on self-promotion.

My feelings on self-promotion.

And while I enjoyed blogging, I felt uneasy asking bloggers to host me so I could blab about myself or my book. (For those bloggers reading this that asked me to guest on your blogs, that was lovely. :) )

I published exclusively with Amazon to take advantage of their promotional tools – being able to list a book for free for a number of days, countdown deals, and their lending program.

After a short while, I tested putting the book out there for free without doing ANY promotion.

And there were lots of downloads. Or what I thought were a lot of downloads.

Those downloads led to more reviews.

Those reviews led to the ability to submit my book to sites (free) who would share my book with their readers. Sites that would be willing to promote or feature my book the next time it was free or in a countdown deal.

So I listed it for free again.

That led to even more reviews.

Which led to rankings.

Which led to sales.

Which led to funds for a new book cover.

Which led to more sales.

Every time I’ve listed my book for FREE (or taken advantage of the countdown deal), it’s been the same cycle.

More visibility. More reviews. More sales.

Every time.

Am I giving something away that took work on my part? Sure. So, I guess if we are listing pros and cons, that could go in the con column.

But what about the pros?

Sales have surpassed anything I ever expected to make with my writing. They funded the book cover. They allowed me to give to several charities. I’m not swimmin’ in cash Scrooge McDuck style or anything, but it’s been more than a trip to Starbucks worth.

Not an actual picture of me.

Not an actual picture of me.

Reviews and reader feedback comes in a lot more often. And yes, that does mean that I get more negative reviews than I would have if I chose to remain less visible, but that isn’t really such a bad thing. It’s a total skin thickener. Paired with the positive reviews that roll in, it’s definitely another one for the pro column.

People are reading the words I wrote. When I think of the number of my books floating around out there on Kindles and Kindle apps around the country/world it’s really kind of cool. (Some days it make me feel very weird and hidey – but it’s mostly cool.)

Person reading my words.

Person reading my words.

Not everyone who has a copy will read it. Not everyone who has a copy will love it. But my words exist somewhere outside of a folder on my desktop, or a tattered notebook in my sock drawer.

That’s probably the best pro of all.

So, I say to you writerly folks, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of scratching out that price sticker (not literally, cause, you know, interwebs) and letting your book go home with whomever wants it, you may want to give it a go.

What have you got to lose?

Fellow writers, feel free to chime in with your experiences with setting your books free. And those of you with the reader perspective, how do you feel about being able to grab a book at no cost to you?






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