Thursday 20 December 2012

To Go Free Or Not To Go Free? That Is The....

I've read quite a lot lately about whether or not one should offer one's books for free. Many people feel that to do this cheapens not only one's own work but also the market as a whole.  There are many arguments for and against, and I daresay you might have seen one or two of them yourself.  I was reading one on the blog of Geoff West yesterday....

...which you might like to look at, too, as both the blog and its comments feature both schools of thought.

What do I think?

About three years ago, when I had written much but had not yet heard of Amazon KDP or even Kindles, I was browsing my local library.  I came across a book entitled 'Mutiny On The Bounty' by John Boyne, which I imagined, rightly, to be a fictional account based on the true story.  I love this genre anyway, and have always been fascinated by the tale of this famous mutiny, so I got the book out.

It was marvellous, unputdownable.  I then went on to read the rest of John Boyne's books, and extol his genius far and wide. I will add that he was good enough to accept my friend request on Facebook, and seems to be a thoroughly nice chap.  

Now, John Boyne is an internationally acclaimed author, anyway, and you could argue that he didn't need my approval. Indeed, he could probably live without mine alone.  However, the approval of thousands like me, as a group of people who love his work as much as I do, has got him where he is today.  I probably wouldn't have bought 'Mutiny' if I'd seen it in a shop. But I had the chance to try for free the books of this author about whom I knew nowt.  I wonder how many of his other devotees discovered him in the the same way?

Here's another story.  A couple of years ago, my sister read a book that had been a free giveaway in some magazine; it was called 'The Big Picture' by Douglas Kennedy.  She had never heard of Douglas Kennedy, and nor had I.  She read it, then phoned me and said "You MUST read this book!"  Since then, she and I have both bought and read all ten of his books, and extolled his virtues ... ditto the above, re John Boyne (minus the Facebook bit!)

I discovered Emily Barr in a second hand shop.  Well, not her in person, but her book 'Plan B', for about a quid.  Need I say more?

Speaking of Emily Barr, I was delighted to see that my book 'The Other Side' now features in the 'Customers also bought' lists of several of her books on Amazon!  How cool is that?  Now, this wouldn't have happened if I had never put my first book, 'You Wish', out there for a three day free promotion.  I'd still be selling about six books a month, like I was when I first started!  The free download opportunity gave people the opportunity to try out my novels without spending a penny.  

Yes, I do value my work.  I value it so much that I want as many people to read it as possible, which is why giving out free copies is something I am happy to do.  It's only the same as having them in a library.  Of course I want to make money from writing.  I have international bestseller fantasies, the same as anyone!  But the main reason I write is because I love it, and I want other people to love what I do.  The more people who read my books, the more are likely to do so.

Oh, here's 'The Other Side', by the way!

What do you think about all this?

Writing six weeks later....  I just wanted to say one thing, though....  since Christmas the amount of books that are on free promotion at any one time seems to have quadrupled - which makes me wonder if anyone actually need pay for a book ever again.  There's an air of desperation about it ~ writers seem to be putting a book out on sale for a month, then, when it doesn't become an instant bestseller, shoving it on for free, in the hope that it will boost post-promotion sales.  Thus, the free promotion no longer has the effect it used to, because everyone's doing it.  Ah, well.  All markets flood, eventually, I suppose.  My thoughts on the rest of it, as a principle, still stand, though, and I will still put my books on for free from time to time.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

It gets right on my nerves, it does.....

....just me talking about things that annoy me again!!

'Are you ready for Christmas?'  
     Have you had your first one yet this year?  I got mine yesterday.  I don't expect the person who asked me this will have a very good one, as I was forced to cut her head off.

Why is it always so HOT everywhere?  
     Since about the end of September this year, every time I go into a doctor's or hospital waiting room, or on a train, I feel about fit to pass out because the heating is always turned up full blast. Don't the people who recklessly whack up the thermostats in these places realise that most who visit them will be wearing coats?  
     Shops are as bad; until I get to the chilled section in Morrissons I have to walk around with my coat hanging over my trolley, thus revealing that I couldn't be bothered to change out of my bleach stained leezurewear t-shirt before I came out (my fault - I should learn). In early October I went into Marks & Spencer to buy a winter coat, and the mere activity involved in trying a few on actually made attractive beads of sweat appear on my face.  I mentioned it to one of the shop assistants; she said, 'oh yes, it's awful, isn't it.  I just try to move around really slowly.' 
     Taxis are usually dry and airless, too - and some people's houses - what happened to wearing a jumper?  I haven't worn or bought one for years.  Can't be healthy, being so artificially hot all the time, can it?

Talking of shops, I'd like to say this:
     I want to buy the bottle of shampoo I've just brought up to the counter.  I don't want to top up my mobile, buy stamps (postal, saving or otherwise), invest in an aftershave gift set for 'just' £12.99, add a family sized bar of chocolate to my shopping list, get that DVD for half price because I've spent over 50 quid (and, presumably, because it isn't selling at the normal price), change my house insurance or anything else you're offering me.  
     Yes, I know it's not the fault of the sales people who have to offer all these things.  I feel sorry for them having to say it two hundred times a day.  I usually hold up my hand to stop them as soon as they launch into the speech;  recently, one young chap in Savers thanked me most profusely, saying that his mouth was permanently dry and it made him feel like a right idiot. Sales promotion 'experts', listen to your staff and customers!

     How come women who are more than three stone overweight are no longer just 'fat', 'big', or the ghastly 'curvy', but, apparently, now 'sassy'too?

     And don't start me off on 'rocking' - "I'm currently rocking this really cool suit"; "Next time I'm rocking down to the supermarket..", etc etc.  Only acceptable if you're in Van Halen, otherwise it just makes you sound like a prat.  Still, at least the people who are currently saying it will have jumped onto the next bandwagon in a month or so.  That moment when..  Just sayin'...

     Clicking 'like' on someone's Facebook status update about people with an incurable disease/bad treatment of some monkey or other doesn't 'raise awareness' of it if you don't know what that disease etc is, and have forgotten all about it two minutes later, anyway.  
     It just makes you feel as if you've done something good.
     Guess what - you haven't!
     Even if your awareness is momentarily raised, this still doesn't actually do anything about it. Copy-and-pasting the actual Facebook status update doesn't do a great deal, either, unless you're actively involved in fund raising or spreading the word about new solutions for whatever it is. I think it was a journalist in the Guardian who invented the word for people who do this - Clicktivist.  Nice one!

Taxi drivers:
     Generally speaking, if people sit in the back of the car and answer your questions in monosyllables, it means they don't feel like talking. 

     Anyone else weary of the overuse (and often misuse) of these words? Genre.  Generic.  Exponential. Demographic.  Iconic.  Literally.  Ironic.

     I really, really hate the way that someone being sick on a television drama/soap/film is portrayed so graphically these days.  We don't actually need to see it coming out of their mouths, or, indeed, the remnants as they are wiped away.  Gross me out!

     Similarly, can't people ever kiss on telly/films without the sloppy, squelchy sounds???

     This isn't annoying, just something that amuses me. On films in which someone is going to confront a dangerous person, or in which a group of teenagers are going away for the weekend to some cottage in the hills where, inevitably, there will be a resident psycho waiting to pick them off one by one, have you noticed how, within the first ten minutes of the film, the fact that there is no mobile/cell reception is always established via one of them trying to make a phone call to their mum? Producers of such pictures must have cursed the advent of the mobile phone.  
     'Hey, Mr Huston, I don't like to mention this, me being just a lowly stage-hand an' all, but while he was hiding in that attic with the knife wielding maniac mooching around below, couldn't he have just called 911 on his cell?'

     Perhaps I just watch too many crap films!