Building a dream and giving it away

A few days ago, my books Remedy and Ravel became free on Amazon. I can’t fathom why the algorithms chose me — maybe they accidentally price-matched the sample chapters I’ve scattered all over the Internet? But when I noticed those $0.00 prices on Amazon, I was completely stoked. The thought of hundreds of strangers getting my ebooks for free is a happy thought for me. No, really! It is.

Not all authors feel this way. Some just don’t like Amazon changing the list price without their consent. Some rail at the thought of their intellectual property being given out for free at all — and that’s a justified response, because it’s a lot of work to write a novel and a lot more work to write a good one. Lots of characters and scenes to be built and it’s not like we earn an hourly wage for our trouble.

But what good is hard work if no one reads it? While browsing through thousands of ebooks, it’s easy to glance at a book’s blurb and think, “I’m kind of interested but I don’t want to pay that much.” Many authors don’t have enough reputation or name recognition to overcome the reader’s inertia. If potential readers are skeptical of a new author and the only barrier is three or four dollars, I say it makes sense to remove that barrier and invite those people into the author’s world. We’d all love to be financially successful and famous, but if we had to pick only one, which would it be? There are much easier ways to make a living than by writing fiction.

Such as building tangible things!

It’s related to my views on piracy — which are laissez-faire, to say the least — but I’m quite content to give my work away sometimes and raise the chances of it being read. I’m looking to build a niche, to draw people into my idea that fantasy non-humans aren’t just cutesy animals for kids. Strong though my beliefs are, I’ve only started to build my self-publishing career. I don’t have that name-brand power yet and I don’t think a hard stance on file sharing makes much sense for me, because I don’t want to disuade anyone who might otherwise become a fan of what I do.

I’m like this in my daily life, when I’m eating unusual food — I’ll often say to acquaintances, “Have you ever tried this? Here, have a bite of mine!” They might not order a whole plate of a weird new food, but they’ll usually accept a forkful offered for free. And with that shared bite, maybe the other person has tasted something delightful.

So for all the work I’m putting in, it delights me to log into Amazon and see the free download numbers ticking higher. If you haven’t already, please check out Remedy and Ravel, my stories of Aligare. Tell your friends and family, too! And if you like what you find, well, I’m currently building another story.

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