I’ve been turning this over in my head for quite some time.
The thinking really started after I read a few of Seth Godin’s books. I’ve read three of them so far: Linchpin (my personal theme book), The Dip (my life for the past year in under 100 pages), and Tribes (perhaps my future). One thing has stood out in my mind with each book: Godin expects something from his readers. He expects his readers to rise above the status quo to become something bigger, something amazing.
I could write a brand new post on that two word sentence above, but won’t (not now or here, at least). No, this entry is about why I decided that my first novel would be free. I have a couple of reasons, and before I list them, I have a disclaimer. These are MY reasons, and it is not my intention to judge anyone who does things or sees things a little different. To each their own. Disclaimer over.
1. I don’t feel that I’ve proven myself yet. To me, I consider it an honor that someone is willing to pay for my work. I also feel that I have a huge obligation to potential readers for my work to…well, not suck. I don’t have a strong online platform. I don’t have an army of potential readers already lined up. Any writer would love those things, but I feel that I have to earn them. Giving away the first book, in my eyes, is an opportunity to build those things, to show that I am a writer who puts the qualitative before the quantitative. For those of you who have debut novels that sell well, my hat’s off to you. I’m not there yet.
2. The money is not as important to me as it once was. Don’t get me wrong. My ultimate dream would be to be able to make a living solely off of my books. I also know, however, that most writers cannot do this. They usually have a regular job (maybe it is also in writing), and work on their books the same way I do: in the evenings, on the weekends, or whenever the spirit moves us (even if it’s 2am on a idle Tuesday). My day job is rewarding and pays enough for me to survive and occassionally treat myself with proper planning. Now, the second novel will be a different story…
3. I just like the idea. Godin mentioned the suggestion of offering your work for free more than once in his books. It seemed counterproductive to me before, but I see his point now; one has to be willing to do what it takes to build a “tribe.” I suddenly realized that I want to be a leader (again, that topic could be a totally different post); I’ve pretty much been trained from childhood to do so. I want to write and share my thoughts with others freely, and to speak with readers about the subjects that come up in my writings. Self-promoting? Maybe a tab bit. Ambitious? You betcha.