THE COST OF GIVING AWAY BOOKS FOR FREE
“If only publishers were as keen as friends were to own a copy of your book”
Undoubtedly one of the biggest expenses for self-published authors is the amount of copies expected to be given away for free. This will always add to the overall cost of getting a book into print and yet this is very rarely taken into account.
As already spoken about previously, legitimate costs associated with self-publishing include printing, binding, stationery and postage. Obviously while taking into account the need to market a book to the media – it goes with the self-promotion territory – there is always pressure from family and friends to be given free copies.
While no doubt this kind of attention gives an author a tremendous high, generally speaking, as is usual in these circumstances, either few people actually pay for them or it’s the author himself who feels too embarrassed to charge. Either way it only adds to a growing expense and reduces the value of a future royalty cheque.
Remember the cost of a self-published book comes directly out of your pocket. Or to put it more succinctly, if you have a friend running their own business selling anything from cosmetics to jewellery or cars, would you expect them to give you any of their stock for nothing?
It doesn’t work that way. So while it’s perfectly acceptable to give your parents a copy to be proud of, a line must be drawn or you never will be in a position able to recoup any of the costs?
Next time I’ll be looking at media preparation.
* Got a comment on free books? We’d love to hear your comments below.
Nice post, Martin. I’m currently working on my début release and this is something I’ll certainly have to think about.
All great points. Isn’t the beauty of the ebook that you don’t have these costs, though? I have been sharing some of my work online for free, and it has generated both reviews and sales. I think that free (e)books does have a place in marketing, although it’s not the panacea it used to be 🙂
Good luck with that Chris and I couldn’t agree more Nicholas. However a cold reality is that technology has changed the way we shop and is slowly sounding the death nail for cheques as a form of payment. After all, that’s so last century. The same will, in time, do the same for reading as we know it as the younger generation are being taught using tablets instead of text books in schools. However, for now at least, (e)books and it’s paper counterpart will continue to exist together although nobody knows how long for.
I think this article is so accurate and it is a problem I have yet to overcome – that of giving away free books to family or friends, especially if they don’t have access to Amazon, where the books are sold. I realise I’m still in the process of trying to get it known that my books are published and available.
Last year, one of my books was on a ‘promotion’ on kindle and about seventy copies went for free. Now, I realise that no book can appeal to everybody, but this ‘promotion’ has not generated one extra sale of the other book or a single review for the book in question. I now feel that, however few books I may sell, I am not giving away any more kindle books.
Interesting dilemma authors face. If giving away books for free is expected, plan it into the marketing strategy, i.e. have people opt into a list to get the book for free and offer additional value if they actually pay something. Follow that with an upsell to something else and BOOM! You have yourself a solution to the “free dilemma.”
Nicely said. I think so many people don’t understand how much we authors spend on producing a well-written novel. As I stated in a previous blog I wrote, would anyone expect to go to the movies and get in for free? Would anyone show up for work and when the day is done, not expect to be paid for his or hard hard labor. I hope people start to realize and honor our hard work.
My family and friends insisted on buying my book. I tried to encourage them to download the e-book while I ran a short free promotion on its release, but they all made me run it in paperback so they could have a signed version & all happily paid the recommended retail for it.
I I automatically send family a free copy. Afterall, they will be our biggest source for word of mouth.