It seems like ages ago that I was so opposed to the electronic reading device. I considered myself a purist, whatever that means, and couldn’t imagine reading a book that wasn’t made with paper. I’d seen my friends with their e-readers and the devices seemed inconvenient to me. What if I wanted to go back several pages and check something in the story? That didn’t seem as easy to do with the e-reader.
As a writer first starting out, I was just as opposed to having my stories published electronically as I was reading e-books. Of course, e-books were still an innovation of the future when I started out. Most books were still being published in the traditional format and I balked at the idea of not having an actual book that readers could buy. Then one day, I blinked and e-books became not just a reality but ubiquitous. Some writers don’t even release paper books anymore. They go straight for the e-book.
I finally did break down and join the e-book age. Initially, I didn’t “buy” books on my e-reader. Call it a last ditch effort at rebellion or call me cheap, but in my early days of e-reading device ownership I only downloaded books that were free. Early on, I made a rather important discovery about these freebies. They were often the first books in a series. Clever writers looking to establish a following offered the first book for free. Hooked readers would be compelled to buy the next books, giving authors not only a wider audience but more money in their pockets.
I wasn’t immune from this strategy. In fact, I’ve discovered two of my favorite authors as the result of reading a free e-book. On the strength of the free books alone, I promptly downloaded and paid for every other book these writers have produced thus far. I also regularly peruse the bookstore to see if they’ve released anything new.
Now, I will say the free e-book sometimes has the opposite effect with me. I download a book intrigued by either the title or summary or both only to be disappointed by the story. That disappointment deters me from buying additional titles from that author and ultimately saves me both grief and money.
Having recently decided to write on my terms, I’m likely going to be releasing my books only in an electronic format which I find somewhat ironic. Irony aside, I’m now debating whether or not to release my next book as a freebie or offer it at a low enough price to attract potential readers. Whatever I decide, I sure hope it nets me more fans than it costs me!