My new book, about which I droned-on last time, is “Dead Set on Tuesday.” Well, from Friday through Sunday (ending in just a short while, now) I have offered it free to all comers on Kindle. The results have been intriguing. It has climbed to the #9 spot among free “procedurals” (meaning books with police procedures running along their spine, so to speak) and as high as #638 among all free books offered on Amazon. In both cases, that is doing pretty well, because we’re talking about a lot of books, a big “sampling” by curious readers. Or people just looking for something they don’t have to pay for, I know. I gave away over 510 books (exact number not finalized as of this writing), along with 65 in Great Britain, 10 in Germany, and 1 in France (!). This is a fascinating process. More fascinating will be what comes next, because now readers who want to own the book will have to plunk down the princely sum of $3.99 (USD), and those who wish to borrow it from the Kindle Prime Members Lending Library will have to plunk down $0.00 (USD), although as do all authors of Kindle Select books borrowed from the lending library, I will make roughly $2.00 per borrow. This last part is pretty cool, since everybody wins. I would have very few qualms about being the most borrowed bookster in history.
You might get the impression that as a writer, one walks off a very high cliff when shifting from the free to everybody realm into the buy-or-borrow my baby realm. You’d be right. It feels pretty risky, pretty scary. What if everything just stops? What if I don’t get good reviews from even a few of the people who’ve read the book? What if I break out in hives or terminal adult acne due to a bad case of rejection fear? All this might sound like no big deal to a person who does not write–I was going to say ‘for a living’, but in truth it’s much closer to ‘as a way of living’ to anyone who really does it–but trust me, it’s vertigo all the way. Cold sweat city. Here comes the test, and you have no guarantees of passing. Again, people might have taken the freebie, read it, and hated it. These things happen, no matter how desperately one wants it to be otherwise. It would be worse, however, to be simply ignored. And in the world of the Internet– that vast sandy beach upon which we single grains jump up and down screaming ourselves hoarse in hopes of getting SOMEBODY’S attention–being ignored is not just an insult, it’s the norm. Same is true of this blog. If you’re reading it, I’m in some small way beating the odds. Fact is, there are far too many things going on at one time to reasonably expect one’s book to suddenly go viral and leap into the consciousness of the world at large. There are even too many books to expect that. So it’s pretty tough, and it requires tireless effort to get people’s attention, hopefully without alienating them into thinking “Oh my God, there’s that asshole writer screaming for attention again, wanting me to buy his goddamn book. Why doesn’t he get a real job? Nobody reads anyway, although I, of course, do, but I can’t be in the majority.” Well, you know what? People do read. Actually, with the Internet, probably more than they have in a good long time. So the battle is well worth the waging. Especially now, when trends take shape and foundations are being laid–only problem being, we don’t know which are foundations and which are foundering–it’s vital to get one’s head above water and gargle for all one is worth.
So that’s what I’m doing. Gargling. I went to college to learn how to gargle, and I’ll be damned if I’m stopping just because it’s a little tough out there. I have stories to tell, even if people will only read them for free. Or at least, only read this most recent one for free. So maybe next time, if I’m a little bit lucky and there’s a little bit of wind in my sails, those freebie readers will remember that they actually liked what they read by that guy what’shisname, and they might even be willing to pay a small amount to see where he goes from here. Maybe. A beautiful word, ‘maybe.’ Equally so the word ‘might.’ Closely related to ‘we’ll see.’ Won’t we.