Why Not More Free Books? Here’s Why

I am asked occasionally…okay, frequently…why I don’t offer more books for free. It’s a fair question. We all like free stuff. I know I do. So readers sometimes ask why I don’t just put my books out there for them to read at no charge.

The answer is simple. I like to eat, and live under a roof, and drive a car, and buy my wife a birthday present, drink an occasional beer and do all of the other things that “normal” people do. If I give my books, my work, away for free all of the time, I won’t be able to do any of that. Pretty basic economics, huh?

Independent writers/publisher like myself, (Indies) walk a fine line between promotion to gain market recognition and just giving stuff away with no purpose. I freely admit that when I offer a book promotion and give one away free for a time, it is to expose new readers to my work and hopefully encourage them to buy, purchase, fork over a couple of bucks for another book. That’s the reason, not because I am a prince of a human being.

Does that make me a bad guy? Those who rely on me to provide some small income to the household don’t think so. We have bills to pay like everyone else.

I find it interesting that people who would never freely give away the services they perform or products they make or sell do expect Indies like me to give our work product away. Now, mind you, I am not bitter about that. I understand. As I said at the beginning, I like free stuff as much as anyone, so if it’s free and I want it, I’ll take it for free. But I don’t EXPECT things I like to be free.

And that brings me to the point of this post. I, like other writers in the digital age, have discovered that there are some readers who are only interested in downloading and reading free books. That’s a shame. They are missing some damned fine work by authors who limit their free promotions.

While I don’t blame them for looking for free books, I do feel compelled to encourage them to understand that if all books are free, soon there won’t be any more books. Writers require money to survive, like anyone else, and my Indie writer colleagues and I will soon find something else to do if we can’t pay the bills. If all books are free, eventually, the overall quality of books available will decrease.

I do try to keep prices down and affordable, but here’s a breakdown of what an author actually makes on a book:

  • Average book writing, editing, and publication time – 1,000 hours (varies a little depending on the book and author, but this would be an average for a major novel of 80,000 to 100,000 words.)
  • Price per average book – $2.99
  • Average royalty per sale after fees – 2.02
  • Hourly return per book sold – 2/10 of one penny (Do the math- 2.02 dived by 1000 hours)

You get the picture. If I wanted to pay myself just $10 an hour for the work that goes into a single book, I would have to sell 4,950 books. Giving them away means that I work…work hard…for free.

My question to those who only want free books — Would you do that? Work for Free? I doubt it.

So don’t be upset that I don’t have more free books available. I am thrilled to offer a free book to everyone on occasion. In fact, you can join our group by signing up on this page and receive a free book, but if you like my work, I hope that the small price we charge for a book is worth the return you receive as a reader.

I and my Indie colleagues do work very hard to provide quality work and the best possible reading experience for you.

Best wishes as always,

Glenn

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