R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn't FREE!!!


Last week in What’s the Problem with FREE!? we talked about how giving away FREE! downloads of our books can actually do more harm than good. I also gave an example of the software company that refused to offer anything for FREE! back in the dot.com boom in the 90s when all the competition was handing out goodies left and right. When every other dot.com was giving away golf shirts, trips, goodies and software for FREE! this company stood firm and offered nothing…for nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, this company gave away FREE! stuff. They just didn’t give it away for free ;).

Free! is Best When It Isn’t Free

I read J.A. Konrath’s  and Bob Mayer’s blogs because both of them provide a lot of valuable insight for the writing professional. At first it might seem that Konrath and Mayer and I would disagree, that we would be at odds. Why? Because Konrath and Mayer will be the first to give us writers a digital kick in our digital @$$ to get off Twitter and Facebook to write more books. They make no bones about telling writers to get back to work and WRITE! Me, being a Social Media Expert Jedi, should be aghast.

What? How can you tell writers to get their tuchus off Twitter? Twitter is the best thing since Gummy Bears! And Facebook? What are you communists in league with SOPA to keep writers from sharing that video with the dancing squirrel?

Actually, I agree with Konrath and Mayer and it is one of the reasons WANA methods look VERY different from most social media approaches. See, I am not here to make you guys social media experts. I am here merely to help you use this tool called social media in the most time-effective way, because the best thing you can do to become a successful author or even a brand is to write more books. Write as many books as you can! Good books.

Write! Write like the wind! This is true for ALL authors—traditional, indie and self-pubbed. The more books we have for sale the greater our odds of success. And don’t think I am telling people to churn out crap just to have more books. There is nothing further from the truth. In fact, I dedicate every Monday on this blog to help y’all grow to be better and better writers. But few things can help our writing abilities like…um, writing.

Rocket science, right?

I just taught an on-line class about branding. I had all kinds of questions about Google Ads, Goodreads, Pinterest, blog tours, etc. to sell books and brand. My answer? Don’t become an expert at social media, become an expert at writing good books. Social media is a means not an end. The one critical ingredient to ALL author brands? BOOKS. GOOD BOOKS. The more, the better. Successful authors are not judged on the quality of their fan page. They are judged by the quality of their books.

Okay, you guys got the point. WRITE!

Yes, sometimes it might seem that I am beating a dead horse, but this is really critical. Konrath and Mayer had a distinctive advantage when they decided to self-publish. If, for no other reason? They had a lot of good books to offer. Why does this matter? Well, for today’s purposes, it has to do with FREE!

FREE! has More Power the More Titles We Have to Offer

FREE! is what can hook a long-term commitment. We can give a teaser to gain passion and loyalty. Yet, we can only do this if we have more than one title for sale. A potential customer (reader) sees that we have more than one book for sale. Ah, but one is FREE! This makes a reader a bit more excited since now…

FREE! is in Context of NOT-FREE!

Value is relative. If readers go to a site and an author has her one and only manuscript up to give-away, we might bite for the FREE! download. But, when we go to an author page and there are ten titles for sale, all for 4.99, yet one is FREE!, naturally we feel better about our decision to bite on the FREE!. Also, because this pricing was given in context, as humans, we will place more value on the download so we are more likely to read this one FIRST.

This is one of the reasons that authors like Konrath, Mayer and Eisler have done so well. Not only were they offering vetted titles, but they offered a lot of them, thus their product (the book) could be judged in context. John Locke, the successful self-published author, didn’t have vetted titles, but he did offer A LOT of them. Thus, those who liked Locke’s FREE! book now had a whole list of other his titles for sale.

FREE! is only valued when consumers believe it costs us (the giver) something.

Go back to the example I gave last week. I have a half a dozen magnet calendars I got for FREE! in my junk drawer. Does any of this make me want to do business with any of these real estate agents? No…because in my mind it really didn’t cost them anything. But what about the agent who sent me a $100 Lowes gift card? (Our agent sent us this after we closed on our house). That man will have my loyalty FOREVER, because he gave something that cost him, even though I know he made money off the sale of our house. He didn’t have to send $100 gift card. He could have sent us a calendar and a thank you note like my mom’s realtor did to her. But he didn’t and he now has a customer for LIFE.

This is why multiple books for sale help the impact of FREE! Since we have other titles for sale at a higher price, then it is perceived (by the consumer) that we are taking a loss when we offer something for FREE! This creates the reciprocity that is critical for driving sales. Reciprocity is very often negated when an author gives away her one and only manuscript for FREE!

FREE! is Most Effective When We Maintain Our Negotiating Power

If all we have is one book…then we give it away, the power has just completely shifted over to the reader. We are completely at the mercy that he or she will be compelled to talk about our book. Since we have no other titles for sale, we have nothing else to gain, other than maybe some ranking on Amazon. But even then, that only worked well when everyone wasn’t giving stuff away for FREE! We are in a position of weakness, of need. Not the best place to earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

FREE! is Most Powerful as a Part of a Quid Pro Quo

I’m not, per se against giving away books for FREE!, but I do think that there are smarter ways to go about doing this. As I stated earlier, FREE is best when it isn’t FREE!

In fact, FREE! can actually be a wonderful tool to get customers to spend MORE money…but the clincher is we have to have more than one book to offer.

Since it would be almost irresponsible for me NOT to mention Amazon at some point during this discussion, we will use them as an example. A while back Amazon.com started offering FREE! shipping on orders over a certain amount.

Thus, a person who purchased a book for $14.95 might pay an extra $3.95 for shipping. In total, the customer would be out less than $20. But, if they bought another book for a total of $29.95…they would get their shipping for FREE! Many people probably didn’t even want or need the second book, but the power of FREE! proved just too much to resist. And obviously this tactic works because Amazon still offers FREE! shipping when we consumers jump through various hoops (all of which are, of course, profitable for Amazon).

This is why it is critical to write more and more and more books, especially if you are self-published, because then you can use FREE! to its maximum advantage.

Bundled is Better

A good way to gain more sales traction? Bundling.  Buy two books for $4.99 and get a FREE! download of another short story, novel, whatever. This kind of FREE! makes readers very happy. Consumers are then lured to put out money to get the FREE! I happen to be very blessed to be part of Who Dares Wins Publishing and they do these types of deals regularly and it is a win-win for authors and readers.

FREE! Needs a Perceived Value

FREE! doesn’t have to be in the form of books or downloads. Heck, offer FREE! shipping on orders over a certain amount. Why reinvent the wheel? Copy what works, and, if Amazon has done this successfully, then so can we. Yet, again, this only works when we have more than one title for sale.

My Biggest Gripe About FREE!

I think writers, especially self-published writers, get overly fascinated with marketing, and the allure of FREE! only makes this worse. I see far too many writers uploading that ONE manuscript and then spending every spare waking moment, promoting that one book to the point of being viewed as spam. They tweet with every imaginable hashtag, “Come get my book for FREE! FREE NOW! A book for FREE!” ….and after the 40th time we get this tweet, we are willing to pay the writer to stop tweeting.

They remind me of gamblers chasing their losses. Because ONE DAY they had X number of downloads, they are back at the track trying to make that number appear again. If we run around handing our one and only manuscript for FREE! then what good does it gain us? I am sure there is some good that can come from it, but not the real game-changing benefit that I want all of you to enjoy.

If we study the success stories, especially in indie publishing, the winners always had multiple titles—J.A. Konrath, Bob Mayer, John Locke, Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, etc. So Mayer and Konrath are correct—write, then write some more. Less tweeting and more writing.

When we have more than one book to sell, FREE! becomes a pricing strategy, not a desperate cry for attention.

Yes, I am the social media expert for writers, because I will be honest enough to tell you guys that the point to all this tweeting and blogging and FBing is to drive enough book sales that we can lose the day job and do what we love. We can’t do this with one book. The odds of this are about the same as getting mugged and hit by lightning on the same day. If we are spending too much time on social media, then we aren’t writing more books. Thus, social media is no longer a powerful advantage…and neither is FREE!

So what are your thoughts? Opinions? What are your experiences with FREE!? Any thoughts, suggestions? Recipes for killer chocolate martinis?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great book.

Winner’s Circle

Winner of last week’s 5-Page Critique is Tahlia Newland. Please send your 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

Ginger Club is the winner of last month’s 15 page critique. Please send your 3750 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.


Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether is a WONDERFUL resource for the best information in this industry.

Joe Konrath’s blog is another wonderful resource.

Colin Falconer had an AWESOME blog Historical or Fiction?

Friesen Press has a great post that I need to print and STUDY, Take the Busyness out of Business.

The real way to build a social network by Reid Hoffman over at CNN Money

The Big Reasons Indie Authors aren’t Taken Seriously at Huffington Post

Red Pen of Domm, Why Blog Hits Don’t Matter Though I don’t agree 100% we actually agree on a lot. We can have 10 zillion hits and they are all bots or random clicks. Quality trumps quantity and I agree.


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  1. Great post, Kristen. Especially like the tip about “bundling.” Great idea!

  2. This makes so much sense that I wonder why everyone isn’t doing these things, already.

    As a reader, I am far more likely to read and review a free Kindle book if I know the author has other titles for sale. First, if the book is great I want to help other readers discover this author. But I’m also just plain selfish, and I LOVE to fall in love with authors who put multiple titles out there for me to read. I also see less value in a review for a free book that is the author’s only book, so I’m less likely to spend my time writing it.

    I also love your reminder to WRITE! WRITE WRITE WRITE! We readers are waiting for more books!

    Your blog has also convinced me that while I plan to write for the rest of my life, I don’t think I’m cut out to ever become an independent author. I love my job far too much to leave it, and I don’t think I have what it takes to manage an indie writing career AND a professorship. This is a pretty big epiphany for me, so once again: THANK YOU.

  3. Yikes! I had been considering this kind of free promo early on but I completely see your point. Time to crank out a few more than the first before I seriously think about this again. Awesome info as usual.
    I’m not published yet at all Kristen, but your advice from this blog and your books have all worked beyond my expectations and I wanted to say thanks for all your hard work. You’re a jedi master of social media. 🙂

  4. Love this post! Nothing in life is forever free, and there is no magic bullet with publishing and reaching a strong mark in readership. Every book needs to be pimped out just like the ones that hit the shelves before it. Free and 99 cents can be okay promotional tools, but they won’t change your book’s value for the better, nor will they bring you the sudden success all authors crave. Building relationships, taking time to market your books and network, will all help — but most importantly, writing a fabulous book that readers will TALK ABOUT is primary.

    Thanks for mentioning my article on the Huff Post, “The Big Reasons Indie Authors aren’t Taken Seriously”. I hope you saw my previous article, “Are eBooks Too Cheap?” You might find it interesting. You can find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/ebooks-cheap-price_n_1160383.html?ref=books#comments

  5. Excellent advice and good points. I’m turning off Safari & mail and getting back to writing!

  6. There’s a widespread fantasy that anyone can write a book, so why pay for it? It’s an ignorant approach, for those of us who’ve spent decades working at writing, to assume that our time and skills are, literally, worthless. You have to create a clear value proposition (hate that jargon but that’s what it is) so that people understand what it is they are buying from you.

    Based on the expertise of my last book (3 years’ worth of work), I was asked this week (!) to fly from NY to Chicago and address senior executives (all of whom will be paying to attend) without any pay. Why is this in my interest? You either decide my skills add value to your endeavor, or you don’t. My creditors don’t accept “free” payments, and neither do I.

  7. You are so right that some indie authors get too caught up in marketing. Some spend way more time marketing a book than they did writing it. And the free thing only works if you work it.

    It’s good to remember free works in the real world, too–if you have paper copies. Recently I saw a gift basket auctioned off to a large crowd at a charity benefit. One of the items in the basket was a book by a local author.The auctioneer read the whole blurb and showed the cover to the audience.The next day, the nearby bookstore sold out of that title. A local star was born. You can bet I’m going to donate to that auction next year!

  8. Ah, the pros and cons of freebies. This is a topic so many writers are talking about online and this is one of the best summaries of the best way to utilize freebies to market multiple books. You are so right that an author can’t just have one book and expect it to sell millions of copies because it was offered free for a week.

  9. “Less tweeting and more writing.” You took the words right out of my mouth. Wonderful post, Kristen 🙂

  10. I totally agree, Kristen! FREE works best when you have a bunch of books. I’ve seen it working phenomenally well for a number of different authors. As a matter of fact, J.A. Konrath, Blake Crouch, and a handful of other thriller writers are doing a joint promo offering a bunch of their books for free right now on their “Big Kindle Boogie” promo. I, myself, am involved in the Indie Book Collective’s Free Par-Tay book event Feb 2-4. I’m anxious to see how that works for us.

    I’m going now…back to finishing my next book which will be out soon!

  11. I’ve wondered about all the free downloads available and if they are truly effective. This is definitely information I’ll need once my book is published. Konrath and Eisler are demi-gods to me even though I don’t agree with everything Konrath says, those two know their stuff when it comes to publishing. And, they write great books to back up the hype. Thanks for including them in your post.

  12. I completely love this post, Kristen. And you tell that Bob and that Joe that Twitter IS the best thing since gummy bears. Twitter and my blog actually help me get in MORE writing because I use them as a reward. Writing sprint = 15 minutes of social media.

    See? Win-win.

    • Monique Headley on February 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    • Reply

    I cannot agree more! I’m ten times more likely to download a free book on Kindle if I see that the author has other titles for sale. From the writers perspective, I love the bundling technique! Put quite simply, it just makes sense and all parties benefit. Thank you for all of your insight, and most of all, your honesty!

  13. I’m not ready to publish yet, but your post is giving me the options and information I’ll need when I get there. Like I said I’m not published and would like to think that I’m above all the publicity games, but I’m gonna be like a kid with a new bike when it happens. Everybody gonna know it. Thanks

    • Heather_Ponzer on February 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm
    • Reply

    I do agree. So here’s the strategy #1. Write a “good” book #2. Try to sell it. #3. When it doesn’t sell, write another better book then #4. Try to sell that one. #5. When that one doesn’t sell, offer one for free. #5. Write another better book. #6. Try to sell it. Juggle around free book.

    And nobody better tell me to get off Twitter. I’m doing a lot of important things over there. (NOT.) I use it as a reward too, Jenny!

  14. I totally agree that Twitter and Facebook need to be tools, not distractions. If all you do on them is game and watch cute animal videos, you’d be better off only writing books (or content, in my case.)

  15. Can’t stay long, I’ve got to finish my second book.

  16. Good post. I’ve really accepted that everyone is in a different situation so we all have to educate ourselves and make informed decisions. The same path won’t work for every author.

  17. Timely post for my circle of writer buds who’ve been anguishing over social media vs. writing time. Took the words right out of my mouth. I have several novels ready for publication, but only one out at the moment, because I think it’s beneficial to build buzz about one at a time. Patience is key. And the way I see it, the five free days the KDP program allows you to get books into as many people’s hands as possible is the best free publicity one can get. P.S. You’re my rockstar.

  18. Awesome blog. I have a question, though. I just published my first book. I’m writing as fast as I can but am looking at April until the next one is published. I can’t bundle, but I want to give something for free to draw attention. I’m thinking of a Reader’s Guide or a “How to…” booklet, but I write YA Christian fantasy. Neither of those may work well with my audience.

    What can an author give away for free when s/he has one book published, and yet the second one takes time to write?

  19. FREE! as part of bundling is very effective, I think. The main thing I enjoyed about this post today is your injunction to WRITE!WRITE!WRITE!. There really is now substitute. I am still working on figuring out this WANA business on Twitter. But I am WRITING too much right now, okay?

  20. sweet! Now that I have 3 books out, I will absolutely use that technique.

    thanks Kristen

    • Hunter on February 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Hunter's Writing and commented:
    This is a long post and followup to Kristen Lamb’s blog about ‘FREE’. Both are well worth the read.

  21. Kristen, you are the rock god of social media! Here’s a big THANK YOU for figuring it all out so we can all benefit from your experience. This post is so right on the (free) money. And a great reminder that social media is an opportunity to be SOCIAL. I can’t stand it when people only ever tweet about their latest book promotion and never have anything constructive to add to the conversation. Keep up the wonderful, brilliant, inspiring work. Oh, as for me, I’ve already added another 3,000 words to my WIP so I’m going off to tweet a bit.

  22. Kristen thank you for helping clarify this! I have easily four series of at least three books each in my head, and I can’t get to them! I am really striving to find that balance between the social media thing and writing my books. Getting there though!

  23. Kristen,
    So glad I read this post BEFORE I became a publishing legend. Seriously, I’ve been in a bit of a mental frenzy trying to think of FREE! things to get more readers, but my gut was telling me to just write.
    You and my gut are on the same side, as it turns out. I’m listening to you both.

  24. I’m with Caitlin (Broadsideblog) on the point that writing’s often devalued because it’s assumed anybody can do it. They can’t. It’s a learned skill like any other, it takes practise, and it is HARD to make a living from it. I’m coming up for 30 years in the business and can state for a fact it’s very, very hard graft – just today I got approached to write a FREE article for NZ’s air force magazine, which I agreed to instantly for personal historic reasons. But that’s still my time given away. I also got blown off when hustling a feature in a regional paper – the features editor (who used to take my stuff regularly) had changed to a newbie. Means I have to start building the relationship again. Potential income lost just like that.

    All of which highlights the fact that writing demands more skills than just writing – it demands marketing savvy, it demands an ability to understand the human condition, and it demands being able to swing quickly to any new environment. It’s a hustle. The new big issue is hustling in an environment that’s been partly (but not wholly) re-defined by the internet and social networking.

    The issue with “FREE” books on the web is that the drive to cut pricing is, effectively, pure economic theory in play – a sociological phenomenon, not a deliberate or calculated marketing ploy. The market price point becomes free because everybody is doing it. Not that they understand what the consequence is outside their own immediate need, which can be as simple as getting their work out there. That kills income for writers who do it for a living and need the money to eat. And this highights one of the ways in which the web is ‘democratising’ so many aspects of human creativity – at least the stuff that can be transmitted digitally. But it also means that a lot of the techniques you’re highlighting – which, I have to say, are absolutely rock solid, brilliant, and which I use myself – are undermined by the wider trend of people who don’t understand them – and who, in consequence, shoot both themselves and others in the foot by doing so.

    I’m going to put some thought into this and post about it soon (though not before I post about my thoughts on twitter, which I’m drafting). FREE and the consequences of it it’s a fascinating point and SO important for people hoping to publish and make an income from writing, into the twenty first century.

    Also, I think that differing viewpoints on this will be invaluable. Thoughts?

    Matthew Wright

  25. Kristen, thanks for putting clarity to the purpose behind a “free” marketing strategy. I’ve seen this done a lot lately and also gauged my reaction to the promos. It is a great way to get my attention onto a writer I might not know, but that isn’t all that is needed. I am more likely to stay, read the preview and download the free copy if there are more books to check out from the author versus a one and done. This way, if I like the book, I can come back for more. I also then like to find them on Twitter or Goodreads and see how they’ve been engaging with socially. Free alone isn’t the win. It does all join together. Fab post as always!

  26. Excellent point. Free books only works in a limited set of circumstances, while good books always work. 😀

    I now feel terrible for making a whole blogging day, but I was over-due.

    1. Don’t. Make no mistake. Just having good books is not enough. We also have to be awesome at social media. we just don’t have time to waste time ;).

  27. What valuable advice!! This makes absolute sense and I am so thrilled you’re willing to share this knowledge with us!!

  28. This has been great. Thanks for explaining it all. I read last weeks post and was waiting for the other half. Thanks for clarifying the point, but more especially for drawing up a pattern that the rest of us can follow successfully.

    Appreciate you and your work.

  29. Great post. I’ve toyed with free, but I’m the one book guy you talk about. It has helped me get exposure and has since remained high on the Paid list. For me it was a great tool. However, I get the fact that I MUST publish more books and lots more to make this thing take off.

  30. Very timely and extremely helpful. I have been reading a lot of post lately on why one should and why one shouldn’t. I put your opinion above them all. Thank you. I’m not at that point yet, but I like to be prepared and have my plan in place. Now to find that balance between it all. ? Thank you for continuing to light the way for us!

  31. Hi Kristen, I just wanted to tell you that I linked both your blog and WE ARE NOT ALONE in my blog post today at http://wp.me/p2aqkP-n. I bought WE ARE NOT ALONE about a week ago and since then have been holed up following your steps to establish my social media platform to market my first Kindle/printed children’s picture book LUCCI THE NO SMOOCHIE POOCHIE. I did one thing right; I bought a book that has taken me a great way in a few short days. Had I not found you, I’d still be searching the internet and trying to apply antiquated marketing techniques in a brand new field! Thank you.

  32. Words of wisdom. Less social media and more writing. In the future I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we can do to market our very first book.

  33. That’s why I’m writing another book.

  34. Thanks for the excellent advice, Kristen. It confirms my commitment to writing that next book while querying the first.

  35. Excellent post, Kristen. I have been watching all of the FREE book give-aways and wondering ‘Why?’ Finally, an explanation for this bemused new Author. Wonderful food for thought!

  36. But…. Twitter IS the best thing since Gummy Bears. And I love Gummy Bears.

    Seriously, though, I don’t comment on blogs a lot, but this is really an awesome post. Marketing should be only one facet of an author’s life, not the whole thing. The book is the product. So if you don’t make the product, what is there to promo?

    I just read Gary Vaynerchuck’s Crush it! and it really changed my perspective. Made me realize that I’m stretching myself too thin. And then there’s this post, and I feel like that’s a sign.

    Not that I’m giving up my Twitter, but I am reorganizing my online presence to make it simple again.

      • Author Kristen Lamb on February 3, 2012 at 11:25 am
      • Reply

      Thanks for the book suggestion. Will check that out…because I don’t have enough to read, LOL. Always happy to see ur shining face :D.

  37. Very good post. I’ll take this to heart when the time comes.

  38. That’s one way of looking at it. However, I believe in the law of giving and receiving. It states that the more you give away, the more it comes back (it’s like karma). It’s like this. You don’t have to advertise it but you put your book out there for everyone to check out. Kinda like a blog. Then, people would get curious and give it a try. Now, not everyone would like it. However, if they do, your name is in their minds. If you write something else, they’ll likely make a beeline for your work because they know you already.

    Hence, I beg to differ. I think giving away your book gives other people a chance to check your book out–those that won’t give you the time of day. That’s why libraries are good for helping authors get their names out there. Give other people a chance to read it for free. Then, let them judge if they like your product or not. It’s like “test drive before you buy”.

  39. Thanks for your inspiration Kristen!
    Tiny FYI, I encountered a dead link to your book that you might want to know about in case someone wants to buy your wonderful WANA book and can’t reach it. On your Twitter Tuesday #1 blog the link should be to
    but instead goes to
    http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/WANA.html (a dreaded 404)
    I am new to Twitter and your posts are a great help!

  40. [not sure my earlier reply today got through, so…]
    Great post, which I have just read because I have been busy working on my new novel. How’s that for anticipation? I have three “done” novels and two books of short stories (one of which are linked stories). When I approach my morning’s work, I’m faced with the question: Write or market? Almost always I choose the one I love. (Guess which.) But with e-publishing, the task does not seem so daunting.

    One question, though, about your good advice on the “Free!” post. Yes, following the Amazon model of offering free shipping for multiple buys sounds good, but it assumes sales of hardcopy POD books. Although I suppose I could offer free shipping on my e-books once I get them up, and hope the customer gets the joke.

    So, I request that you do a post on the POD process and the economics of it.

    I have read WANA and glean much information and insight from it. Also, I honor it by keeping track of my various passwords on the inside covers.

  41. I’m coming very late to this post – sorry I missed it! Because like everybody who commented here, I think your post is brilliant, spot on and I only wished I’d read it before going free with my 2 books. Of course, you’re right! That was silly and unnecessary – I got lots of downloads, sure, but that didn’t translate into more sales afterwards. On the contrary. If my books ever had a chance of rising, I surely killed the goose (I mean readers who downloaded had nowhere to go if they liked my books: they got both free!)
    So yes, you’re doing a fab job helping newbies not make the obvious mistakes and shooting themselves in the foot. Many thanks!

    1. It is a totally new world and we learn as we go. We do the best we can then move forward :D.

  42. I linked back to this post from your post the previous week on free that was linked back to from your post on the rise of the machines. Whew! Anyway, I do a great deal of my wife’s book promoting and all of the publishing that is not traditional (digital.) So this sort of info is very useful. We’ve not ever used the Free for all the reasons you mentioned. However, she does have several and I like the idea of grouping. I just may have to try that. Thanks for the time you take to write this. I know how much effort coming up with new ideas all the time takes. 🙂

  43. I use free to get reviews, but beyond that it seems pretty much useless. I thought about putting the first book in the series out as perma-free, but I’m undecided on that. We’ll see.

  44. ‘FREE! is only valued when consumers believe it costs us (the giver) something.’

    This is something I’m definitely taking with me. I wanna give one of my new novellas for free because I just want to share the story, its not for marketing or for getting downloads or reads, but in that context I’ll definitely point out that it took effort for me to get the book done.

  45. This was so helpful! I have 3 self-published book and would run 3-day long free promos with Kindle, but I’ve also heard free can devalue..as in do we value something we get for free as much as we do something that we paid for? Kind of like your realtor example (and, wow, AWESOME realtor…I got a calendar too). This really put free into perspective for me!

  1. […] Kristen Lamb will be our guest on Friday with “Novel […]

  2. […] isn’t FREE!!! – Kristen Lamb has two posts up lately against free book giveaways. Interestingly, two big names she mentions – Bob Mayer and JA Konrath are currently doing precisely […]

  3. […] Kristen Lamb explores why you should only give away something for free if it’s not free: R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn’t FREE!!! […]

  4. […] always wonderful Kristen Lamb discussing the nature of FREE! and why all writers deserve to be paid for their efforts. Also caught her out at Writers in the […]

  5. […] 2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn’t free (Kristen Lamb): “I am here merely to help you use this tool called social media in the most time-effective way, because the best thing you can do to become a successful author or even a brand is to write more books. Write as many books as you can! Good books.” […]

  6. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness they power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

  7. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness the power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

  8. […] of two near-Ether-length posts (OK, nothing’s as long as the Ether), La Lamb gives you, in R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn’t FREE! what she says is her “biggest gripe about […]

  9. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness they power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

  10. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness the power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

  11. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness the power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

  12. […] away our work unless it serves some kind of a strategic advantage. There are ways to effectively harness the power of FREE! but too few writers understand how to do this and they just end up giving away their art for no […]

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