Should you give your writing away for free? 

Spend a few minutes on Amazon or subscribe to some author newsletters, and you will discover a school of thought that says an effective author strategy is to make your ebook free. The logic behind this is that a reader downloads your book, likes the writing, and seeks out your other books. If you have a series, you make the first one in the series permafree, as they say. 

I've thought long and hard about this, and it may be an unpopular viewpoint, but I think authors are creating their own problem by offering freebies. Readers have come to expect it. But go ask a lawyer: "hey, will you give a day of your legal expertise and time for free?" or suggest to a plumber, "hey, come and fix my blocked kitchen sink for free," and the answer is likely to be 'ah, no.'

Sure the lawyer may do pro bono work, but I'm talking about your average lawyer trying to make a living, your average plumber, your average anybody who is offering a valuable service. So, why should writers be any different? I engage a lawyer who a friend has recommended, but I don't know how good the lawyer is. Am I going to suggest she give up a day of her time to show me she can do legal work to a high standard? Am I going to ask the plumber to fix some pipes to show me how great he is at plumbing? No, I'm not because there has to be a degree of faith and trust in expertise and professionalism.

The suggestion that writers should give away their creative work so readers can get a taste for the writing style before parting with their hard-earned money is plain silly. Writers need to value their work as much as lawyers or surgeons or politicians. The creative process, the research that is behind every book, and the amount of time it's taken to write a novel or poetry collection - that all has value and should not be given away for free. 

When you find something that is free, what is your immediate thought? If you're like me, you'd be thinking must be rubbish. Sad to say, that is what I think when I see free ebooks or even ones offered for 0.99 cents. 

I'm not interested in gaining readers who like freebies. I would prefer a reader who wants to support writers by paying a fair price for creative work. Besides, Amazon has a great feature - it's called Look Inside - and the point of this feature is to give you a sample of the writer's work, and it's a long enough sample to figure out if that writer is for you or not.

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