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What’s Wrong with Getting an Ebook for Nothing? – Jack Eason


I often visit Jack’s blog at Have We Had Help. Jack is a published author, and likes to share his opinions on many issues concerning self publishing, reviews, and writing.


In this time of self publishing, Amazon’s payment structures and promotion avenues are often a topic of conversation between authors. Amazon offers us tools to promote with them if we keep our books in their Select KDP program. Although I’m grateful that we at least have an opportunity to promote our books with them, I’m also not always in agreement with the payment structure. And as for putting our books on FREE, yes, it hurts (psychologically and in pocket), but many authors I confer with agree that when it comes to marketing, we have to take off our author hats and step into the marketing arena with a different perspective.


Putting our books on FREE, enables readers to take a chance on our work without having to pay. In the hopes that we put out our best work and have readers enjoy and spreading the word to increase later sales, many authors including myself, occasionally use the FREE program. But that doesn’t mean I agree with all of their policies.

Below is an excerpt of Jack’s opinion on the matter:

“Everything, that’s what!!!

The fact that today’s readers of eBooks demand it must be free or on offer as part of an all you can read for x number of dollars per month package deal, is just so wrong!

Face it people, when you go to your supermarket to get your groceries, or to any other retail outlet you care to name, do you get what you want for nothing? No of course not. So why should you expect to get a book for free? I’ve . . .”   Read Jack’s full post below:



Here was the response I commented back on Jack’s blog:

My two cents

Well Jack, you’ve said what many of us authors are thinking, and perhaps didn’t dare say. We don’t want to upset the amazon gods that trickle our meager drippings to us. You are so right when saying that free and cheap have become an expected thing with our books without anyone taking in consideration that we spend our lifetimes writing books, researching, revising, editing, and on and on, only to have to give them away free to get us up the ranks. And come to think of it, hmm, I don’t recall going to a store and being offered anything else on this planet free. This kindle page reading chart is annoying. They’ve figured out a way to make money for themselves by readers signing up for ‘all you can eat’. At least before, we got a bit back from our book being downloaded in the program, even if not read. Now it’s by the page, and author’s like me who enjoy writing shorter essay novels are getting less from that new pot. Should this propel authors to write big fat books full of filler crap just to get more page reads?

I’m so reblogging this! Thanks. 🙂


How do you authors feel about the Kindle Unlimited program and the new ‘pay the author a bonus by the page read?’


D.G. Kaye ©September 2015


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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Although my books are available for Kindle I am not linked to them in anyway as I prefer to sell my books through my own sales sites without commission, sales tax or withholding tax. I am afraid that I also turn down offers of free books. I have 70 odd indie authors’ books that I have bought and I am struggling to read them.. If I took the books offered I may never get around to them and that is a waste of that author’s hard work. If I cannot read every book at the very least I can promote them. I would rather that instead of a free copy that the author asked me for a New Book Fanfare or a Five Star treatment. That I can do and perhaps that might encourage even one or two more readers to buy their books rather than expect for nothing. Doctors do not give away their services, plumbers, electricians or other service people.. Why should writers. Excellent response by the way Debby.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Sally, and your response is quite accurate as well. My kindle is also full and ready to burst. When I first began to self publish I think I downloaded more free books than I knew I’d get to. I’ve since reorganized, and although my TBR is still very full, the over 200 books I hope to read there await me. In the meantime, until new avenues open up for Indies, I sometimes still use the free promo. After the I swallow the hurt, I’ve found that although many people load up their readers because of free, but depending where I promote AND PAY for a free promo, I seem to be getting the right readers for my books and gaining new ones who buy my books from this. It’s truly a double-edged sword. 🙂

      • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

        I think from my experience with my non-fiction books that it is a slightly different market.. People are looking for answers to issues that concern them and you now have established yourself as an expert in the field of relationships.. People enjoy what you share with them and relate to it and want to come back for more. I am using the blog more and more to write the books and then publish when I have had the feeback.. almost as beta reading.. I do not subscribe to any of the Amazon packages so am not limited about how much I share so in essence I give it away first to a section of like minded readers and it is very useful. XXS

        • dgkaye

          Thanks Sally for the kudos! And I agree with you about being a nonfiction writer. If people connect or relate with the topics we talk about, they are more likely to want to read more. Even though our topics are different in each book, they come to expect the same type of writing and enjoy it. 🙂 xo

  • D. Wallace Peach

    I also purchase my books, preferring to support the indie community, and if I enjoy the book, I write a review. I still use the free promo for my own books, but look forward to the day that I need it less to entice new readers. Building a fan base is a slow process. The industry continues to change and I always look forward to what’s ahead.

    • dgkaye

      It sounds as though you and I are doing the same things reading Indie books and using whatever we can to gain readership. I look forward to the same. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting D. 🙂

  • Debby Carroll

    I did a free promo to gain reviews. 800 downloads (which I thought wasn’t bad in my nonfiction dysfunctional family memoir genre) and I think one review. Albeit a good one, it was only one and overall I’m leaning in the future toward not giving away for free what I worked so hard to create. I think we indie authors have gotten into a bad habit of “free” here and we may have to walk away. I used to work in the (almost now defunct) newspaper industry. When digital came onboard, they made the mistake of giving their eproduct away free. They needed to find a way to monetize the digital information age but after getting information free, readers no longer were willing to pay, which explains the part where in the U.S. anyway, newspapers are almost non existent. I think the indies should learn from this and maybe agree as a group to start to talk down freebies. In the end it may help to lift all of us to greater financial success. That being said, $.99 isn’t free, it doesn’t totally devalue the product and it may be a better choice than totally free. I’m still pondering all of this, though so I’m not sure my two cents are worth two cents. But, for now, they’re free. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Deb. Your two cents is very welcomed here. You’re right. Collectively, if all Indies could do a rally and say we’re going to stick to a certain protocol with pricing, it may change things, but this can be difficult. But, it doesn’t hurt that many of us authors are on the ‘same page’ about these pricing issues. Perhaps if we talk about it enough and get others to spread these words of ours, just maybe we can open doors to new possibilities. 🙂 And as far as reviews go, we also need to keep educating readers about their importance, whether we politely mention them in our back matter of our books, or keep reiterating through social media, maybe more people will learn to understand how important they are to an author. 🙂

  • Carol Balawyder

    I love your voice, Debby…the amazon gods. I am so against offering free books and hope that more and more writers will do the same. As I said on Jack’s post, I once offered a freebie for my book. There were over 300 downloads and no reviews.
    People are willing to spend at FourBucks but won’t dip into their savings account for less for an e-book. As Jack pointed out, people expect e-books to be free.
    We as writers work hard and invest in our projects. Whoever came up with the idea of offering your book for free must have some kind of shares in this. Not the authors, for sure.
    Maybe part of the solution is to not download free books.
    Anyway, thanks for reading my rant…

    • dgkaye

      Lol Carol, I loved your rant, and of course YOUR voice . . .Fourbucks! I love it! But good for you for sticking to your guns. I guess the question remains, if we who sometimes do ‘freebies’ stop doing so altogether, will this send a message, or will our books further disappear into the abyss of amazon books? It’s so sad that having hundreds of downloads only dribbles in a miserly few reviews. It would be nice if many readers could at least understand the value of reviews, that as authors, EVEN WHEN WE HAVE TO PAY FOR ADS, many of those ad sites will only take our money for advertising if we have a suitable amount of reviews! Isn’t that a catch 22? We need to promotion to seek reviews, but can’t get on some ad sites because of lack of reviews. Hmm, Bookbub comes to mind. 🙂

      • Carol Balawyder

        A freebie can get readers to buy your other books which makes the exercise worthwhile and at the least get your name in that amazon abyss. It’s tricky. Amazon holds the golden end of the stick in this. Those on Unlimited Kindle pay $9.99 a month to download as many books as they want.
        And if a writer decides on her own to offer as a free promotion one of her books this makes it an attractive feature for Amazon.
        Hard to know what’s the best course to take.

        • dgkaye

          Yes for sure Carol. It truly is a double-edged sword. But it’s interesting to hear the feedback from others. I’m inclined to agree with you as far as our limited options are for exposure. 🙂

  • Cathy Lynn Brooks

    Many people download free books but as you’ve said, they don’t read them. There should be a clause that in order to get your free book you must leave a review but of course that’s not feasible. You can’t force someone to read. It is a dilemma!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for commenting Cathy. And yes, if only there were a happy medium between giving away a book and asking for something in return. As it is, it still remains a dilemma for many of us authors. 🙂

  • Deborah Jay

    Thanks for sharing this Deb, I’ve also re-posted it now and added my own thoughts. As you know I’ve not done any free giveaways, and whilst I realise it could raise my Amazon ranking, I can’t quite bring myself to do it – I’ve been paid for my writing all my life and it seems plain wrong to give away something I’ve invested time and money in, even though I do understand the marketing ploy.
    I will shortly be giving away the short story that I wrote specifically to be a loss leader, but that feels a bit different to give away a few hours work over months-worth.
    As to the ‘pages read’, I’m okay with that, but then I write long books, and from my perspective it was disappointing to be paid the same as authors who were deliberately splitting their novels into instalments, and getting paid for each chunk as though it was a whole book.
    I guess there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Deb. Thanks for posting your feedback here. You said it, there will never be a ‘one size fits all’. I think that’s great marketing strategy to give out a short work to draw in readers for other books. And as far as Free goes, it’s also that Catch 22; it’s painful to do, yet can pull our books up in rankings for more visibility. It seems as authors, we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. In fact I’ve been so on the fence with promo decisions, I haven’t ran one in months and I’m currently deciding which way to go. I’m thinking I may run a .99 sale one of my other books while promoting my newest one later this week. Do you have any favourite promo sites lately? Some of the ones that gave me good numbers in downloads only run free books, which I’m not going to do. 🙂

      • Deborah Jay

        I will try to pull together a blog post on the sites I’ve used. There is no doubt genre has a big effect on which sites work best for which types of book, but if you have a big enough list to work from, something is likely to hit the mark.
        I only use free to advertise or very low cost, and so far that works for me; I’ve never been out of pocket.

        • dgkaye

          Thanks Deb. I do the same for ads. But checking many of the ad sites, Free offers a lot more free ads, but once the book is on bargain (.99) for some reason there are more sites charging for ads now. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Sach. It really is a double-edged sword. And of course, Amazon finds a way to scoop more off the top. One really has to have the passion, time and patience to write, because clearly, it aint for the profits! 🙂 xo

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    I have to confess dear Deb the world of publishing I am not up to date with.. but as a reader of books I would expect to pay … Do you get the whole Book free? wouldn’t a free chapter be better to wet the appetite perhaps?
    I like to browse books in the library and get a feel for the book by flicking through the pages,
    I would think Authors are missing out on their book sales with free ebooks, Just my opinion..

    Sending you love..
    Sue <3

    • dgkaye

      I agree Sue, there’s nothing like flipping through an actual book. But the ebook world is a whole other animal. When you look through books at Amazon, the book cover with offer a ‘click inside’ feature where readers get to read the first 10% of a book for a sample. 🙂 <3

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