Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Give It Away Now

I started out (or rather, restarted out) by posting stories up on amateur writing websites. Those stories (brushed up) feature in my short story collections. The originals can still be found on the internet. I thought about pulling them down, but I didn’t in the end.

For the past two months I’ve been running a little serial on my blog.

So, why am I doing this? Why am I essentially giving my work away for free?

It’s a fair argument. I could just as easily package up the serial I’m working on now as a novella and charge people 99¢ to read it.

And it could just as easily sit there on Amazon, unread, forever, even at 99¢.

I think sometimes people are too attached to the notion they must receive something from their writing for it to have value. The problem is value is determined by the market. If you’re nobody and nobody wants to read you because you’re nobody (and remember 99% of everything is crap), then your writing has no monetary value anyway.

I like try-before-u-buy. I like to give my readers try-before-u-buy. I think this is even more important for self-published work. There are still some deep-rooted prejudices against self-published work. If 99% of everything is crap, then everything with no quality control must be 99.9999% crap. The best way to counter this is to make sure there are plenty of samples of your work up and easily accessible for people to read. That way they can see how good it is for themselves.

It’s a little easier with short stories. People read the stories I have out on the internet, decide they want more and then go on to buy the books (which contain stories that can’t be found anywhere else).

I started the Locked in with a Succubus serial to drive traffic to my blog and find new readers. I don’t know if it’s actually resulted in more book sales, but it has doubled the number of visitors. Hopefully, some of them will like what they read enough to spend money on my books.

If you're unknown, you need to get known. You need to get people to read your work and get interested in what you're writing. I don't mind giving some of my stories away for free to achieve this.

M.E. Hydra


  1. I serialize drafts, and then polish to publish. Even if you're serializing polished work, you can still stick it up on Amazon, et al after you're done with the serial, then run another one...

    No reason you can't do both - give stuff away *and* make money off of it. That's the beauty of self-pub...so many options. :-)

  2. I completely agree, that's a great model. Readers like to sample, but they usually also like to have their own copy, especially at a buck!

    I read some of your serial, and if you linked to an ebook I'd buy it.

  3. Thanks.

    I try and do both. The ideal ratio I'm aiming for in a short story collection is around 6 available for free on the internet and 7 exclusive to the book. Sort of like how singles used to get plenty of airplay on the radio to sell albums (but hopefully with less filler exclusives! :) )

    I've already got plans to package up the serial in another collection of short stories.