The idea is to give someone a taste of what you offer, a sample before you buy the product, so to speak. For example, some e-book authors give away the first book of a series away. If they liked book 1, they may just buy book 2 and 3. Others entice potential readers with a free short story based on a novel they've written. Some release the first few chapters of a novel for free download.
But there' a breed of writer that's happy not to earn a cent from their creative works. Writer Nicky Charles puts up her work on e-book distributor Smashwords and doesn't charge a cent. "Writing is my hobby, and I don't want to turn it into a job," she said in an interview published on Smashword's blog (http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/04/author-nicky-charles-on-why-all-her.html).
"Quite simply, I love to write. I love to paint pictures with my words and to make people feel emotions. I love building a new ‘universe’ and filling it with details to the point that readers actually start to believe that such a world exits. I love sharing my stories with others and hearing from fans
and ‘meeting’ people from all around the world. That’s my payback," she said.
Some have called this business model “freemium”. Not everyone is a fans of this – some believe that the deluge of free e-books not just spoils the reader, but ruins the market and devalues a writer's work. Why would someone pay for a book when they get one free?
But popular blogger and write Jeff Goins doesn't mind doing the "unthinkable" and pricing his e-books at $0.Last year, he gave away his popular e-book, You Are a Writer, for a few days. It was downloaded more than 24,000 times and Goins did not earn a thing during this time. Free can actually be very profitable, he said in a newsletter he sends his followers. In a world filled with information and too much noise, it is difficult for a writer to get noticed, said Goins. "The best way to cut through the clutter and earn people's attention is to find creative, interesting ways to give your work away," he said.
Of course, you as a reader may wonder if "free" means bad quality. To be honest, I've come across many free reads that shouldn't have been penned. But that's true of even traditionally-published books, even those deemed bestselling sensations! Sure, it's a challenge finding good e-books in a sea of e-books with the $0 price tag. But maybe it's just me -- I find the process of hunting for undiscovered gems fun and invigorating. Below are some worthwhile reads I've come across. Happy reading!
Focus by Leo Babauta
Too distracted? Overwhelmed with life? Lee Babauta offers a simple solution.
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
The blockbuster YA writer of hits such as the Tyrlle series gives away her e-book about a zombie apocalypse free.
Books by Nicky Charles
Love paranormal romance? Nicky Charles has a huge selection to choose from.
Baen's free e-library
Sci-fi and fantasy publisher Baen often gives away some of its books.
Love the classics? You can't lose with Project Guttenberg, which has over 42,000 e-books in its system.