Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Novel Give Away

Can you build an audience through giving away your novel as an ebook? It's an interesting idea and I confess I don't know the answer to the question.

I'd encourage you to read this article from Forbes.com by Cory Doctorow who has been giving away his novels as an ebook online since 2003. More than 700,000 copies have been downloaded from his website. Tor Books has published his novels.

Did the publisher (and the author) lose money because of the give away? He says, "There's no empirical way to prove that giving away books sells more books--but I've done this with three novels and a short story collection (and I'll be doing it with two more novels and another collection in the next year), and my books have consistently outperformed my publisher's expectations. Comparing their sales to the numbers provided by colleagues suggests that they perform somewhat better than other books from similar writers at similar stages in their careers. But short of going back in time and re-releasing the same books under the same circumstances without the freePyromarketing e-book program, there's no way to be sure. What is certain is that every writer who's tried giving away e-books to sell books has come away satisfied and ready to do it some more." While he includes no sales numbers for the printed novel, it outperformed the publisher's expectations.

About a year ago, I wrote about another give away type of program. Greg Stielstra gives away the audio version of Pyromarketing (HarperBusiness), which is a nonfiction book. It’s a way Greg is practicing the principles that he promotes in Pyromarketing. Again like with Doctorow's book, I have no information or insight about the sales of Pyromarketing and how it’s worked out for Greg and his publisher. It is innovative. If you get a few minutes, take a look at his google video on the front page of his site.  I found it fascinating and only four and a half minutes.

I retained the electronic rights for my Book Proposals That Sell which people can get instantly as an ebook. From my personal experience, most people prefer to get the printed book (which cost less than the electronic version). For someone who wants the book instantly or is overseas and in a location where receiving the printed book is a challenge, the ebook gives them ideal access to my book.

These experiences may or may not provide you with answers. I call it to your attention to note the innovation and the way authors are working in creative ways with their publishers to attract an audience for their books.

4 Comment:

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Crystal Laine Left a note...

I think it is interesting that people will download entire books to read on their computers. Doing a lot of this kind of work on the computer, it is convenient, but I prefer having a book or manuscript in hand.

Still, with the popularity of blogs and even the Amazon.com Shorts, I know I've looked up other things written by an author after I've read something given out for free by an author. Intriguing idea. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. I have a friend doing this.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Bonnie S. Calhoun Left a note...

Who knew, when Al Gore invented the internet, LOL...that blogging would be so big, and author sites would be so huge.

Ebooks....if the Lord tarrys another 50 years, that could be the wave of the future instead of the paper printed word!

They have some pretty nifty hand-held readers for ebooks!

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Cory Doctrow is all of the following:

A darn talented writer.
A prophet.
An evangelist for common sense.
A crusader for the creative commons copyright movement.

As Mr. Doctrow says, "The number one reason that people don't buy my $26 book at Borders isn't because they say, 'Oh, this is Cory Doctrow. I can probably get it online for free.' The number one reason that people don't buy my $26 book at Borders is because they have no idea who the heck I am!

I listened to works that he podcasted on craphound.com.

Then I read his stuff online.

Then I payed $26 for his book at Borders.

Worth every penny.

Download his lectures, Mr. Whalen. It will help you make up your mind in a hurry.

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...


After I downloaded and read your e-book from Amazon, I have no excuse for not spelling your name correctly.

Make that "Whalin," please.



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