Friday, February 17, 2012

Free ebooks, Cory Doctorow, and the fight against obscurity

Amazon has made it easy to give away ebooks (with the condition of exclusivity, of course) but the idea isn't really new. Cory Doctorow and others have been advocates of free ebooks for more than a decade, with the science fiction community being early adopters of the idea.

People ask me why I give away so many ebooks (probably 300,000 copies since Christmas), and I say, "There are probably 20 million Kindles in America and I want to be on every one of them." I don't worry about lost sales because not that many people know who I am, despite multiple titles over the years. And it also fits my philosophy of idea gardens, where we all trade ideas and grow together.

Cory Doctorow lays out some of his notions in this free ebook , although some of the positions are decidedly dated--such as using the free ebooks to sell paper books. Doctorow also talks a little too gleefully about getting rich for my tastes, but that's his trip. The ideas in his ebook are free and worth it.

The challenge still remains: how do I get people to read these books? How do I reach the people who don;t even know I have books, or those who don't even know my ebooks are free? Where are the unexplored territories? Is it possible to build a productive communal model for big ebook giveaways?

I am currently developing a platform for huge ebook events, with sponsor-supported events. Free ebooks and lending libraries will soon make a joke of the $9.99 ebook. As Doctorow also notes, nobody knows how writers will make a living in a free world, but the first worry is to not be lost in obscurity. I still have 19.7 million Kindles to go, and seven billion readers worldwide!

Free through 2/18- Ghost Box: Six Supernatural Thrillers


Kriss Morton-Weekley (@AKMamma) said...

I found this listed on eReader news and grabbed it! I know as an author and a reader that these free ebook offers drive the ratings up. After they are free their sales have been going up and their placement. I think it is a great idea. I also really look forward to these six Supernatural Thrillers!!

Epic Kindle Giveaway said...

Thanks, Kriss, please tell your friends--it's a long climb out of obscurity and every little bit helps and is appreciated!


roh morgon said...

The platform you're building sounds very interesting and something with which I'd like to be involved.

I've found that the publishing/marketing side of my writing business tends to eat into my writing, and am keeping my eyes open for opportunities to combine efforts with other writers that benefit the group as a whole.

That said, today I dipped my toe into the KDP Select program with a brand-new novella. We'll see if it gains any visibility with this program, but more important to me is whether or not it will impact sales of my other titles.

Epic Kindle Giveaway said...

Good luck, Roh. Personally, I'd argue that "impacting sales" is the least of the data you should be looking at, and maybe the worst reason to go free or look for loans. It is the only thing most people consider, though. Using money is a quantification that causes people to get left behind because they are always looking at old data.

I find the idea side of my business just as fascinating and engaging as the writing. So I don't begrudge the marketing. I look at it as a life, not a job--and I won't waste my time on things that no longer are useful to the world. Choices!

Hunter Shea said...

You are blazing a trail, my friend. It's true that a free book can net a reader for life, and you can't put a price on that.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Hunter, some put it at a million bucks!