Friday, January 16, 2009

"Selling" Your Book for Free - Will it Work?

I've been toying with the idea of giving away our book for free. The only problem with that is that most things are not really valued if they are free. I was thinking about this the other day and came up with another idea. This is the idea: charge for the book, then offer to give a refund after it has been read in exchange for a short review. I would then have the option of publishing (or not) those reviews on my website or blog.

I wonder whether this would actually work. Do any of you have any ideas?

What got me thinking about this was that I just received a free e-book recently that sounded very, very interesting. But I wonder if I will ever actually get around to reading it. Hmmm...

I also signed up yesterday to get the free e-book version of Robert Kiyosaki's latest book along with the option to comment on it and "help" him write it. That one I might actually read.

So what do you think about "selling" your book for free?


  1. Maybe do it up to a point, but after garnering several good reviews I'd use those to up the marketing and start getting PAID for the book.

  2. Uhm how about you email a potential reviewer with a request for review. I receive those alot. Now I am considerate of authors. I don't take on books unless I know I can review them in a certain period of time. I do ask how soon a review is needed so that I can prioritize. Now I know some reviewers are greedy and just like free books. But some take this job seriously. I think you need to research. If I have to pay for the book myself I will read and review it whenever I get to it. Sending a review copy ensures that your book will be read within a month.

  3. I prefer to give a free copy of my books in ebook form in exchange for a review. I feel I get an honest review this way. I have mailed some copies too, all depends on who you are trying to get the review from.
    If they bought the book with the promise of money returned in exchange for a review, I wonder if the review would be their honest feelings or if they'd just give me a glowing review so they'd get their money back.

    Joy Delgado
    follow me on twitter:

  4. Many reviewers require a copy of your book before they'll review it. Be careful when choosing a reviewer or you'll end up giving up a book and get nothing in return. Many times at bookstores an owner will want to read your book first before allowing you to do a book signing. These are all ways that your book is given away to obtain a service in return.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. At the Book Expo America, when I was promoting "Storm Codes" with the author and publisher, we did give away a lot of softcover copies to librarians and reviewers. In the end, it did help with sales, but you have to be pretty picky with the events where you do this.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate your input on this.

  7. Sharon, interesting posting. Here's an idea. Instead of giving your book away to readers in exchange for reviews, you entice them with a short story or something else for free with the purchase of your book. You also make it noted that you would appreciate them posting a review of the book on (if the book is available there) and that you want it to be an honest review. You also can offer feedback to them if they are a writer - a review for a review - but the object is to make money in this business and books are costly so I would only give books to those I know will garner me more sales (obviously for me it's not about the book reviews since I am trying to get my books in the schools and in the hands of the kids- yep you guessed it in the age group of 9 to 12 year olds). My freebie is for schools who order at least 10 copies of the book; they will receive a downloadable PDF teacher's guide to go along with the book - so they can use the books in kind of a book club type of situation where the kids would benefit from the teacher's guide as extra work to help explain info in the book more.

    For homeschoolers and individuals who special order the book through Vivian (, the PDF file cost $2 but they have to indicate it is a special order and send via paypal before anything is sent to them.

    I have other freebies that I give away too - my drawings on my tour - I'm giving away USA map puzzles (purchased a bunch of them at the dollar store - you know those places where everything is $1) and some pins and other state related items that I have already received for giveaways (those cost me nothing). You have to find something to tie your book into with your giveaways and use those as freebies. Your book should be limited to who receives a free copy.

    Good luck with whatever route you take and keep us posted on what you find works for you best - E :)

  8. Complimentary books are a must on a blog book tour, but for interim reviews, I would ask the reviewer if they're okay with an ebook. However, if the review site gets hundreds of visitors a day, and they use those books to attract more traffic through giveaways over the course of a year, you probably can't lose.

    On a related note, do you know about which gives away books in exchange for posting your book number and donation amount to a favorite charity? Go read about it.

    Doing a good job here!



Thank you for sharing your thoughts.