More on free books

Yesterday I made d.evolution free on amazon. The novel was downloaded 555 times, which is almost twice as many times as A God-Blasted Land was downloaded the first time I made it available for free back in February.
I’m not sure if the increase is because the market for ebooks has grown significantly in the last four months, d.evolution is a better book than A God-Blasted Land (of course I’d like each book to be better than the one before it), the target audience for d.evolution is larger, d.evolution is listed in a more visible category, d.evolution is longer than A God-Blasted Land (though not by much), or because d.evolution is a standalone novel whereas A God-Blasted Land is book one of a series and is so far the only book in the series that’s available.

I suspect it’s a combination of all the above. Whatever the reason, it confirms that people like free. And there are now so many free books available either permanently or as one off ‘sales’ that readers could conceivably never pay for another book again, and why not, we all like free.

The last time I wrote about this, the question I was trying to answer was:

How can writers be compensated for writing books if they give them away for free?

It’s still a valid question and figuring out the answer might make somebody somewhere very successful, but today my question is slightly different:

How can writers get readers to pay for their books when there are so many free books?

And I think the answer to this question is the same as it has always been regardless of free ebooks. By writing books that people want to read, which of course leads to, ‘how do you let people know that you’ve written a book they might want to read?’ Hmm, that’s trickier, but maybe the answer is paradoxically to give the books away for free, to build an audience for the work by giving it away, hoping people will take a chance on it because it is free, like it, and come back for more.