Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Free at last?

How readers perceive a free book?

A couple of weeks ago I asked the mostly rhetorical question, If giving away books doesn’t yield sales of your other books, or new reviews, why are you giving away books?

I came away, after a robust discussion in the comments, thinking that there is no reason to give away books if there’s no feedback from it, on one level or another. Someone said something like, But isn’t it great that people are downloading and reading your work?

But the thing is, there’s no evidence that they’re reading the books. Downloading the freebies didn’t cause them to either review the freebies or to buy one of my other titles (at comparatively low prices, by the way). The free copies just escaped into the void, and that was the end of it.

In 2019, I gave away about a hundred free copies overall. As a promotional tool, it simply had no effect.

So, I’ve regrouped and slapped a nominal charge on my two formerly free books, Our Children Are Not Our Children (now 99 cents) and In No Particular Order (now $1.29). Someone even purchased the latter right off the bat!

Now, everybody knows we’re not in this for the money, right? As an indie author, you’re not going to be quitting your day job, but the more I do this, and the more I think about motivation, I’m sure the coin of this realm is feedback. Appreciation. Reviews. Some indication that people are reading the work and enjoying it.

With that in mind, and possibly contradicting everything I’ve just said, I’m making Eternity Began Tomorrow available for free next weekend, Friday through Sunday. It needs new readers and new reviews, so if you’ve been leaning toward it but haven’t quite been able to pull the trigger, now’s your chance.

Don’t worry. I’ll remind you on Friday.


[Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay.]

10 comments on “Free at last?

  1. Tim Baker
    January 27, 2020

    This topic could be discussed and debated ad infintum – in the end we (indie authors) won’t know what works until it does…

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 27, 2020

      So true. I think my next strategy will be to sell my soul to the devil … 😉

  2. islandeditions
    January 27, 2020

    All writers write to be read. But we can never know who we reach with what we write unless we can get readers to respond in some way or another. I’ve been compiling articles and reading books on the topic of “Reading” with the thought of eventually studying and writing a comprehensive book on the How, When, Where, What, Why and Who readers read. I’m hoping that, eventually, my studies will lead to a better understanding (especially for authors) of what makes a book readable, or rather what it is about a book that will have readers responding to and about it positively. This topic you’ve been discussing, Kevin, could work its way into my studies. Thanks!
    Remind me when EBT is offered free again and I will share that for you.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 27, 2020

      Sounds like a worthwhile project! Just learning how readers FIND the books they read would be revealing, since the problem for writers is how to position their books so that they CAN be found.

  3. Sha'Tara
    January 27, 2020

    Will I hear a chime when I click the “Post Comment” button? Ok… just trying to levitate the situation here… re: publishing and “getting read.” That’s the business side of the equation which, in the golden years of writing, the sole purview of those living in publishing houses. With the advent of the computer and epubs, those people became homeless, leaving the proliferating mobs of “writers” to manage on their own. Just imagine if, instead of putting up with you for some 20 years, your parents threw you out to manage on your own at 3 years old. Where once there may have been a thousand hopeful writers there are probably a million today, so the competition (on the business side) is fierce. Then there’s the reading time factor. The same instrument that has made “writing” so easy is also stealing time from would-be readers, not to mention TV, the gym, and the longer work days to make ends meet or to commute. I just got home from a 1.5 hour commute that took on average a half hour ten years ago. Double that and I’ve lost 2 hours of my day gone forever. Then there’s the plethora of self-published “books” all over the place. I’ve got something like 4000 books on my various drives, never mind the paper ones. Currently I’m reading “The Celts” (Alice Roberts)-paper; Climbing Olympus (Kevin Anderson)epub; Men Without a Country (Charles Nordhoff)-epub; The Best of Edward Abbey (Edward Abbey)-paper. Plus I also write because my brain leaks and writing is the only way I know of to retain ideas that keep floating up to the dock. If I don’t write them down they just sink in the bay and I can’t dredge them back up.

    One more problem facing the indie writer: the plethora of abysmally badly written “shit” polluting those etheric shelves makes it difficult for the reader to even bother. About a quarter of more of the books I download I delete. At least with the paper I can browse in the book store and get an idea of the contents, or I am familiar with the author and s/he is a safe bet. Also, in my case, I totally boycott Amazon – I’d be more inclined to go browse for books in hell than on Amazon. I refuse to contribute to the enrichment of psychopaths.

  4. S.K. Nicholls
    January 28, 2020

    I have approximately 40 reviews on each of the two books I have published. Sadly, the work effort required to reign in those reviews left a sour taste in my mouth. When I placed Naked Alliances free for a very limited time, I had four thousand downloads, and only garnered a couple of new reviews. A couple have trickled in since. I’m doubtful I have it in me to give another go at it unless something drastic happens in the market…and I’m not certain what needs to happen. I could blame it on myself not being able to write enough to keep readers interested in me as an author, but I have author friends who are slamming thru books and series, marketing daily, and still not making much of a dent. I said it a long time ago and still feel that we indie authors set the ceiling far too low. Maybe that had to happen, maybe not, but at least for now, I am done.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 28, 2020

      Hey, Susan — nice to see you! I think you and I got into this scene at about the same time, so we have experience from an earlier period when it was reasonable to expect quite a few reviews and decent sales during promos. My review numbers have gone down with each title, so that my latest is sitting at six. My first book has 31.

      Clearly this market has changed. I guess it’s a time to change with it or to write/publish for the sheer joy of it. Or whatever emotion applies …

      Hope you’re doing well on your island!

      • S.K. Nicholls
        January 30, 2020

        I was thinking about the authors I have come to love. Tim Dorsey had about 15 books under his belt before someone told me about him. Carl Hiaasen had about twenty. Randy Wayne White had his old books published under a pen name and two other complete series before I learned of his writing. I have a friend in Flagler Beach , Tim Baker, who also write the same types of books. They are not a series, but I have watched him go from three books to nine in the several years I have known him and he is just now starting to garner a huge audience that looks forward to his new titles. I guess the point is, like Tim Baker says, writing for your self as a hobby is what gets word of mouth out there that you are a good author worthy of spending time reading and watching out for new books. We’ve always been told that word of mouth is the best advertisement. I have only written two, and they were both very different. I’m not sure that I will write another one, but if I do, it will be with no expectations. Good luck to you and Keep Writing!

      • S.K. Nicholls
        January 30, 2020

        If it’s something you enjoy.

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2020 by in Publishing and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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