Author Spotlight — Massimo Marino — Guest Post by Massimo

Here’s author Massimo Marino giving us his take on free books…


Some time ago I took side on an online discussion on the value of FREE with ebooks, especially from Indie writers. Someone cited: Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?
One might think milk has nothing to do with writing… but if you read it with your writer’s mind it has everything to do with it.
The post went:
In all relationships, and traditional relationship advice there is a very old expression that goes “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free”. Hello people, stop giving away your milk for free, no one will buy you. If there is something out there that we want we tend to place a higher value on it if it costs us something. The same goes for our relationships. Some people are just so anxious to prove their value that they give away everything they have for free in order to show someone else that they are worth it. However, to the person you are proving your point – you have no value. Pay attention here people, to them you have no value. What you have to offer cost them nothing so you have no value.
Now, isn’t that applicable to ebooks too? What is the percentage of freely downloaded ebooks that are never read, never considered, only occupying some space in the memory of the kindle, and waiting to be deleted to make room when the next truckload of FREE ebooks arrives.
Does FREE create your readers’ base, or it is only when you have a solid readers’ base that FREE will have a value?
The only free books that have a merit are the ones sent to the best reviewers, the magazines, the journalists and alike. The common reaction readers have on free books carries the stigma “no value,” and “trash-publishing”.
I wade a lot through Amazon Consumers’ threads, where you can talk about anything but your books, and where even admitting you write puts you at risk. “Hic sunt Leones” was once said. The picture one gets—if you get there—is:
1) Free often has no value in most cases
2) Writers who put up their work for free have no value – they’re good amateurs at best
3) If it’s free, it’s because it can’t sell even at $0.99
4) It only takes an impulsive click to download it, it only gets deleted faster
5) It’s free, so if after 10 pages I don’t like it readers trash it. Chance are readers will trash it even with a review.
How to complain? After all, no engagement whatsoever with the book and with the writer. It was FREEE
One of the comments received over 15 thumbs up from thread lurkers in the matter of minutes; it went on saying there was no trust on writers who put their work out for free, and zero esteem for them. Desperate wannabes whot can’t holler any more “Buy me! Buy me! Buy me!” and are now to the last straw, “Read me! Read me! Read me!”
Free has, and will have a merit, in only one case: when readers will think the writer is doing it for THEM. Hugh Howey does free, and he is praised. The unknown writer—statistically speaking—is trashed.

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