Monday, 30 December 2013

Free - a High price.

Free - is a High price to pay.

Recently I have had posted to me a number of free book give-aways. I can't get my head around the logic of these give-aways.

If you go into Waterstones, would they take a book off the shelf and give it to you for free?

The answer is – no.

Why? Simply because it does not make economic sense to do so.

Just because as the author you sell your book on line in an e-book format, giving it away free, won't I believe, make it any more popular when the price is subsequently re-attached to it. Quite the opposite.

Authors and Editors alike, know how long and hard the road is from conception of an original idea, to the final publication of a book.

For those of you reading this blog, who do not know of that journey, I'll give you a brief run-down.

An author forms the idea for a plot and then spends, hours, days, weeks, months and even years putting that idea into the basic format of their book.

Then comes re-writes, and plot re-works, all of which are agonized over by the author until, finally, there is a manuscript ready to send to a publisher.

Then the lengthy and often exhausting hunt for a publisher begins. After let downs, re-works to accommodate the rejecting editor's criticisms and further send outs, you either get a contract or you say 'forget it' and go 'indie' and publish the book yourself.

Either way you are only half-way to a release date for your book.

Between then and the book going on sale, there is the editing stage which will most likely include any re-working your editor deems necessary. Even when the edits are complete. There is still one more stage of the process to be completed - the proof reading. Only then is your book almost ready for sale. I say almost, because apart from cover art-work, there is formatting and obtaining an ISBN.

With the long awaited release date fixed, then comes the rounds of pre-promoting your book's release date.

You tweet. You Facebook. You blog. Give interviews. Send out Press Releases.

Ad Nauseam.

So your book sales need to be greater – but is the answer to give the book away for free?

The answer has to be – a resounding – NO.

An author’s intellectual product should never be given away as a promotional tool.

If your book has been pirated, then the natural reaction is one of outrage at the royalties stolen from you, and quite rightly so.

All the hard work you have given to your book, the long hours, the tedious trek from publisher to publisher. The continuous struggle to get recognition as an author out to the reading public. All that is stolen from you. And whoever gets and reads the pirated copy is getting it for – free.

I am not likening giving away a book to pirating – far from it.

You are giving your book away by choice, it is not being stolen from you, however, the result is the same. The reader, reading the novel has not paid to the author any royalties for the privilege.

As a promotion tool, it is my opinion, that a give-away is a poor one.
I believe it sends the wrong message to any potential new readers about the author and their writing.

The message is that the book is inferior to the ones being sold for money. Otherwise, why isn't it still on sale for actual cash.

If it ain't worth money.
It ain't worth reading – principle – and that opinion is not likely to change once it is back on sale with a price tag attached.

Add to this equation, that any other works by the same author can, if the reader waits long enough, will be available for free.

Added to this, any other novels by the same author can attract the preconception that the subsequent books are equally valueless.

Discounting a book's sale price is a different matter.

'Sale' items are common practice on all types and levels of merchandise.
Buy one get one free, offers, are not truly giving the second item away. The two items, have simply been cleverly discounted by 50%. Helping the retailer to achieve a greater stock turnover than would otherwise have been the case. In turn creating more buying power with their wholesalers. And at 50% discount the retailer is still making – profit.

My point is – the second item has not in reality been given away free.

So, why should something that has been so hard fought for – the publication of an authors work be denigrated to the value of = Zero.

In among all of the above is the waiting.

Waiting to hear if your manuscript is going to be given a contract.

Waiting to see the editor's re-works.

Waiting for a release date.

And the wait to become a recognized name within the book world.

Is all of that really worth – nothing?

In this author's opinion - I don't think so.

Of course you may not share my opinion.

Please share this if you do agree that books should not be given away for nothing.

Thanks for reading this post.

Josephine Sanchez-Vanner

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