Last Friday I decided to try an experiment. I gave away a Smashwords coupon to my mini-“anthology” consisting of two stories; “Piercing the Veil” and “Vicious Cycle”. I’m the kind of person that does things like that a little impulsively and right after I released the coupon I did some thinking.
My first question was, “What am I trying to accomplish?”. I want to get more eyes on my stories at this point. I’m fighting some degree of obscurity (for large values of obscurity), and if giving some stuff away helps overcome that then I’m all for it. However, I know that there are people out there who believe in my and want to support my work financially. So I give them ample opportunity to do that by offering my works for sale at as many venues as possible.
When I tweeted last night that I was going to do another Free Fiction Friday today and wanted to know what people wanted me to give away, I got some push back. The objection seemed to boil down to, “if I buy your work and three days later you’re giving it away, I’ll feel cheated”. There was also the notion that if someone knew I was going to do this every week they’d just wait and get what I had for free.
I understand both sets of feelings. My own thoughts on the matter are this though, if I’m supporting an author financially and they decide to put something on sale or give it away then I should respect that. They, no doubt, have reasons for doing what they’re doing. I pay money for stories because I want that person to continue being able to make stories and because I believe in them. Sometimes I even buy things that I’m not otherwise interested in, simply to enable someone to make something cool. Case in point, JR Blackwell’s LARP game Shelter in Place. I’m unlikely to ever play it. I like zombies, but I’m not a LARPer. I backed her Kickstarter campaign anyway.
If someone wants to wait until I put something out for free, for whatever reason, to download it, that doesn’t hurt my feelings. Their reasons are their own, and I made the conscious decision to give it away so they’re not pirating and my being put out would be silly. The only thing that bothers me is the notion that someone wouldn’t buy one of my stories (that presumably they were going to buy at some point) simply because I want to try using a loss leader to bring in more eyes.
So, if you think this is a dumb idea or that ultimately it’s going to hurt me more than help me, I really am interested in hearing what you have to say in more detail than Twitter will allow. I plan on doing giveaways of my short fiction only on Fridays for the next couple of weeks at least, maybe longer if it turns out to be helpful. But if there’s sound logic that I’m overlooking then I’m game to listen.