Is the jury still out on the value of free books?

Woody book on Kindle

It is for me.

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago I wrote a book which I entitled The Sickle’s Compass. Later, I re-branded it with the title The Warrior with Alzheimer’s: The Battle for Justice.  Last year it received a starred review on Kirkus Reviews and later Kirkus Reviews named it one of the best books of 2013.

Not too shabby.

I like the original title better. However, I realize a lot of people don’t recognize the title as a reference to one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come.”

That’s another story.

Anyway to get on with this blog, I know a lot of writers are conflicted with the notion of free books.

I am, too.

However, since The Warrior with Alzheimer’s had not found a large audience, I decided what the hell, I’ll put it back on KDP Select and use my five free days to give it away to a few folks.  At least they’ll have the books on their ereaders and a few of them may get around to reading it one of these days, I thought.


Best Sellers in Legal Thrillers

  • Top 100 Free

The Warrior With Alzheimer's: The Bat...
Kindle Edition


So right now, the book is sitting at number one on Amazon’s legal thriller best seller list in the free store.

I like it whenever one of my books is number one on any list.

If you’d like to check it out and pick up a free copy, you’ll have to do so today (Monday) because today is my last free day for a while, if not forever.  Just click on the book’s cover to go to its page on Amazon.

But the question I raise is whether free still has any power left.

A few years ago it did.

These days the jury is out.

I hope it still holds a little wallop when the book reverts to the paid store tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath.

But, at the very least, I will have the comfort of knowing that a few thousand people now have my book on their devices.

Maybe a few of them will eventually get around to reading it.

  • Gae-Lynn Woods

    I’ve got it, Stephen, and it’s in the queue – looking forward to it.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    Stephen, I hope FREE sells books, but I know for sure that FREE gets your books and your name before people who may have never read you before. And that’s a good thing. It’s probably a good plan to give away one book to ultimately have the chance to sell a few more.

  • This post reminded me to go review a book which I enjoyed when I got it a while back. Sorry I didn’t do that sooner.

  • Also, thanks for providing the current chapter’s title – good sonnet, good thought.

  • Renee Pawlish

    From what I’ve learned in three years of publishing is that free works best if it’s the first in a series. And permafree works great if you don’t want to be exclusive to Amazon. It’s definitely working for me.

    • Renee,
      I agree about the strategy. I had a good couple of days in the free store and I am seeing a bounce on some other titles as well as this one which has now reverted to the paid store. I haven’t tried perma free, but may before it’s all over.

  • Gay Ingram

    Got it Stephen and added to my queue. Looking forward to reading. When I do get around to reading it, I plan to do a review even though you didn’t ask for one. Good practice.

  • jack43

    Thus far more than two thousand people have downloaded my free books from Smashwords. Both end with promotional statements hopefully directing people to purchase my 4.99-star novel on Amazon for just $2.99. Thus far, none have. Is there a message in this?

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