A sign of the times? Author gives away book for free

I’ve just been contacted by Lee Jackson – one of my North London Historical Crime buddies – who tells me that he is publishing his latest novel The Diary of a Murder online, for free. Lee explains his reasons for doing so here and in more detail here, via his website Victorian London. (Incidentally an invaluable resource for historical fiction writers, or anyone interested in Victorian London.)

Lee is a distinguished novelist with a formidable body of work behind him – six novels published by Random House, and two works of non-fiction. His books receive rave reviews and he was short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Award for best historical crime novel a few years ago. Furthermore, The Diary of a Murder has found one publisher – albeit a French one.

Lee’s decision to move into what is essentially self-publishing was not taken lightly. As he puts it himself:

It’s something few authors have done and there are clear arguments against it, mostly concerning the question of (lack of) payment. Moreover, the arrival of e-readers (Kindle et al.) means that a payment model for online books is evolving – why not wait for that? Indeed, why not put the book in a metaphorical drawer and try again later, when conditions were more in my favour?

I told myself this for a while, but a nagging feeling persisted … a fundamental question … why do I write?

The answer? For people to read and enjoy my books.

3 thoughts on “A sign of the times? Author gives away book for free”

  1. Roger, there is precedent for the public purchasing something that was first available free. For example, science fiction/horror author Scott Sigler has been successful getting a book deal after making his books first available via podcast. Likewise, another podcaster, Seth Harwood, has seen his podcast story turned into a book. One approach might be that, for the print edition, the author revises his/her work based on comments from online readers so that the print edition has added material. Personally I have purchased at least three books which I had already listened to as podcasts.

    An author can reach a lot of people online especially if the blogging community pick up on it.

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