1. fsir

    fsir Member

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    Has a free book ever gained the status of a great book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by fsir, Jun 23, 2024.

    With the growth of online digital publishing, a question has occurred to me that I'm not sure has been asked before:

    Many online self-published authors have chosen to make some or all of their books free.

    However, whenever we look at traditional book reviews and rankings, like those from the NYT, we are seeing exclusively books that are sold for a price.

    This made me think of my question.


    Hasn't there yet been a totally free digital book that has become widely popular and/or ranked and reviewed alongside the countless popular books that can only be purchased? And if not, why not?

    Can't a piece of free writing ever be as good as a piece of writing sold for monetary gain? It would seem the publishing and book industry assumes it cannot.
     
  2. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    Lore Olympus was free as a webtoon.
    Now its a physical book and bestseller.

    Wattpad books are free, and a couple if them have become best sellers (and now have physical versions).

    Some agents/agencies will take on projects they know is popular and have large followings. Popularity is money
     
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  3. fsir

    fsir Member

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    Interesting. I had no idea. Maybe it's only a matter of time before we see a free ebook on the NYT best seller list?
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Is it a "seller" if it's free?
     
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  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor Contest Winner 2023

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    Rephrase your question. Bestseller lists are typically (if not exclusively) for books for sale and based on number of sales.

    I suppose there could be a metric like 'most downloaded' or 'most page reads' but I don't know if anyone has compiled a list that shows the metrics across various digital platforms (free or paid).

    The Martian was free on Andy Weir's website and I thought that the website traffic and buzz got him his traditional publishing deal, but it turns out only when he put the book on Kindle (and started generating $$$) did the publishing companies show interest.
     
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  6. fsir

    fsir Member

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    This pretty much answer my question. Probably fair to say that unless am author is already set on or willing to make money with their creations, they're not even on the radar of the publishing and book review industry. It's all about the Benjamin's sadly.
     
  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    question:

    if you spent time (taken from your day job and personal life), money (for editors and artists), and effort (sitting down and actually writing even when its hard at times) into a project.... why would you not want to make at least a little revenue so that you can continue to create projects?

    Yes, it, you get your work out in the public, and its nice to have people read it. But it gets demanding once it picks up popularity (Lore Olympus went behind a paywall before I was finished reading the first "Season" of it, and BEFORE it was picked up by a traditional publisher).
    It sounds like it was the same with The Martian.

    in order to keep creating these bestsellers, you need money. Even if you have the money, you need time. Many bestsellers quit their dayjobs and become full-time writers because now they can actually afford the time to write.
    I cant quit my day job I need the money to support my writing (editors, writing retreats, and workshop fees).
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Admin Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    in general the purpose of free books is to act as a loss leader for paid books...authors often offer first in series free in the hope that people will get hooked and want to buy the rest

    alternately some authors use a magnet strategy where the first book is free the next is also free but only available by signing up for a mailing list...
     
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  9. fsir

    fsir Member

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    If things took off for me, I certainly would consider accepting some compensation for my work.

    But there may be many reasons why an author would prefer to publish their work for free. Perhaps they are already well-to-do and like the idea of making their work a gift to people? Perhaps there are legal considerations for them in accepting money they would rather not deal with? Perhaps they just love writing in their spare time and simply don't care about money?
     
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor Contest Winner 2023

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    One counterexample MAY have been E.L. James' fanfic which turned into '50 Shades of Grey' but I'm not sure if her fanfic following (which is almost always free) helped her get a book deal and I'm too lazy to look it up right now.
     
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