Free

What does free mean to you?  An exciting chance to try something new?  Or does the word suggest cheap items?  Recently, I put my novella The Bride and the Brute on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites for free.  My goal was to thank my readers for their loyalty.  That’s all.

For the most part, readers of my novella have been supportive, they enjoyed the story and the characters (even though the common theme throughout their comments and reviews was that it was too short).  However, there have been a few that said something to the effect that ‘it was free’, as if this meant the writing and/or the quality was not up to par.  This shocked me.  Really. 

Free never meant that to me.  After all, everyone wants something that is free, right?  It’s a good thing.  I had the feeling that this person who commented on my novella thought free was cheap, not good.  That because it was free my novella was somehow sub par. 

I’ve been in this business long enough to simply brush comments like these off.  After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But it did get me thinking…do others think like that?  Do they believe that ebooks and novellas offered as free are not worth the time to download?  I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.  Do you feel this way? 

To this end, for the month of March, I am going to scour the web to find free books for you, one in each category of romance – paranormal, historical, contemporary and erotica.  I will look for works that have consistently gotten good reviews and are more then worthy of a read through. 

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Show Me The Money, Smart Phone.

I’m not talking about the price of a new smart phone, although be prepared to shell out some hard-earned cash, but more along the lines of what my phone can do for me.

This week I’m back on the techno kick in hopes of scoring big.I’m checking out the Droid 3.

And my question is. Can a smart phone really save me money?

Heck-at this point just to answer my phone and call back is major kudos to myself. But saving money? Sign me up. It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there. Hey, give me some lenience. I’ve had the phone a week.

The ability to call, access email, send documents, take a photo, browse the web, and look up social sites-all on the go is very…ah, not completely overwhelming?

Shhh, my ten-year old does not know more than me. Fine, he does, but I’m willing to learn…I can be taught!

And here’s how.  I went in search of some applications that would save me some brain cells, money and crossing my fingers-time. Here’s a few I found with good reviews. 

www.gasbuddy.com  (free) is a site you can find the cheapest gas. Enter your Zip and save!

www.kidsmealdeals.com (free) find free kids meals.

www.mint.com (free) an instant snapshot of your budget, investments, overall wealth and how much you can spend.

www.groceryiq.com (free) lets you build and manage your grocery shopping list even find coupons based on your location.

www.hootsuite.com  a social media time saver. I learned about this during a class taught by Tamela Buhrke. This handy site collaborates and shares duties between facebook, twitter, and other sites. You can use to plan ahead and ‘schedule’ posts/tweets. Awesome!

There are some many out there I could go on forever! And I’m still working through the lists.

Some Tips to keep in mind

  1. Look to see if FREE first.
  2. Delete unused apps regularly to reduce memory storage drain.
  3. Don’t let apps run in the background on your phone. It drains the battery and costs you to recharge.
  4. Don’t let apps and coupon apps encourage you to spend MORE money.
  5. Double-check the information you get from apps. This is especially true when looking for cheap deals on expensive items like airfare. Always comparison shop.

And please, Please, PLEASE don’t use while driving. Pull over or let someone else use the ‘SMART’ phone.

I’d love to hear what do you enjoy most about your smart phone?

Who said there is no such thing as a Free Lunch?

I simply adore Books on the Knob.  (If you are an e-book fan, you must subscribe to this blog.)  Everyday they send an email telling me what books are currently FREE – yes free – for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and other various venues. They also will highlight bargain books, or discounted reads that quite often feed my book addiction.  I now have more reference material at my disposal than I would have ever purchased. I have also discovered new authors by reading their free book, and purchased other titles by that author because I enjoyed their work.  Without the free read I might never have bothered with their book at all.

In a recent discussion with an author I mentioned how valuable this tool has been for me. Her response was a surprise, something along the lines of people valuing their books more because they have invested their money into them?  I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t value something that was free, especially something as precious as a book.  In this tight economy free is damn good.

Then this week I read a fantastic article by CJ Lyons at thecreativepenn.com (click here to read) about how she was selling her book, but not very quickly.  So she posted it free to Smashwords, and eventually Amazon picked it up as free too. She enthusiastically says “48 hours after it was placed on sale for free, 24,987 copies were downloaded and it had made it to #3 on the Amazon Kindle Free Bestseller list!”  That’s a whole lotta people who like free books!!  That also potentially gains her that many readers and possible followers/fans.

Look at Amanda Hocking, self publishing Goddess that rocked Kindle’s world and ended up with a contract with St. Martin’s press.  Granted she didn’t give her books away, though she might have I’m not sure, I know they sold at a minimum of $.99.  (something that really fits into my budget) Her marketing strategy worked – is working.

I’m not saying every author should give away their work, or even take less profit, but it’s an excellent marketing technique. Let’s face it – a large portion of being an author is self promotion, and if I had the opportunity to win over 25000 new readers by giving my book away for a few weeks I think I’d be tempted.  Many authors will give away their first book if say book four in a series is releasing.  If I read one, I’ll probably buy all the others if I like it, that’s much more revenue then if I’d never read the books at all.

What do you think?  Would you turn down free books?  Do you value your books more because you actually pay for them? Or would you equally value a book that was free?

Last weeks ***GiveAway Winner is MichelleKCanada**  Contact me at michelle(at)michelle-fryer(dot) com and I’ll mail Mary Sullivan’s book to you. Congratulations!

Michelle