The Economy of Free (i.e. Come and Get It!)

Several years ago I was fortunate to hear Chris Anderson speak at a new media forum. His talk was on The Economy of Free and why this works, especially in our modern world, and why this is a good thing.

from (click for source)

If you give something of quality away for free, you will gain trust, loyal customers, word of mouth, etc, etc. There’s more to it, but that’s the basic idea.

You’ll have more success if you reach the “tipping point” of society – which is where the early adopters’ enthusiasm pushes a product into the mainstream (the early majority). That tipping point is vital.

My publisher has been studying this phenomenon when it comes to e-books. Many e-books start off as free, or go free as a special campaign, to gain a reading audience. Amazon even has a special through Kindle Direct Publishing in which you give them 3 months of exclusive e-book rights, and they give you 5 promo days where you can offer your book for free. You can do them all at once, or over a period of time.

Hydra House is experimenting with this idea . . . using Ruins of Noe as a case study. The idea of this excites me, but also makes me anxious. It seems counter-intuitive to making a living as a writer. Even when I think about it logically, mathematically . . . let’s say 1,000 people download a free copy of Ruins of Noe. There are still millions of people out there who haven’t. Who may only hear about it because of one of those 1,000 people and word will spread.

So what am I afraid of, right? I guess the idea that after 1,000 people have downloaded it nothing happens. Word isn’t spread. Sounds silly when I say it, but I’m sure there are others like me out there who fret over these things, so there you go.

And I also have mixed feelings about Amazon. Sometimes I think they’re becoming a monopoly. They’ve cornered a big market, which is also a GOOD thing for writers. We can reach so many people through them. They’re publishing and selling the books, and they’ve also gotten into the film making business.

Regardless of this, it’s gonna happen.

So, here goes the OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT (sound the trumpets).

On MAY 1 Amazon will have a FREE download of The Ruins of Noe. One day only folks, so spread the word.

(note: ebook will be listed on Amazon starting May 1)

Now, Book One, Brigitta of the White Forest is still $4.99 on Amazon, so this will be interesting. Hydra House is going to look at two things, if Ruins of Noe is accepted and appreciated on its own (i.e. someone reading it who hasn’t read the first book), and if Book One sales (print and e-book) go up.

I will keep you posted because I think this is good information for small presses, authors, and self-published folks.

And, if YOU have any information from your own experiences, do share!


  1. Cool! I look forward to seeing what comes! And (is it coincidentally?) for National Poetry Month this April 2012 I’m giving away a free ebook to everyone who buys the ebook or print version of my 3:15 Experiment poetry collection, “middle of the night poems from daughter to mother :: mother to son” (also from en theos press).

  2. Wahoo! Hey poetry fans, I recommend Gwendolyn’s most excellent book. It’s a really lovely journey – poems written about her mother and her son at 3;15 AM over a period of years. I really like watching her birth and raise her son through these poems.

  3. tracikenworth
    Apr 27, 2012

    I will be interested to see the results. I, too, wonder at the effectiveness of offering it for free, and the possibility of getting no more hits after that.

    • I guess that’s the part about giving something of quality out for free. If people get it for free, but aren’t interested, it’s not going to help, right? I will definitely share the results. I have a writer friend who swears by it.

  4. LakeMom
    Apr 27, 2012

    This is quite fascinating to me. When I was reading, I was thinking that, in appreciation for the free book and because she loves it so much, maybe my daughter could write a review on my homeschooling blog. Then it hit me — they are on to something.

    • Yes, I really do think so. (And thanks!)

      I heard T. Harv Ecker speak at a business seminar (I’ve been to a lot of seminars and conferences, lol) and he said that every time you step into a negotiation you go with the idea that you are going to create a win-win situation. I know this isn’t a negotiation, but I see the possibility of win-win in this. Fans get free quality stuff, then they spread the word. Everyone’s happy. 🙂

  5. 4amWriter
    Apr 28, 2012

    Well, I think that sounds like a great deal. Although, I’m still going to buy it 🙂

    • I’m guessing that’s the point, right? That a certain portion of the population will buy it anyway. Didn’t Radiohead (was it them?) release something for free and then fans bought it anyway? Something like that.

  6. meeshelleneal
    May 1, 2012

    I think I read somewhere that May 1st isn’t actually the official day… when is the official day?

    • Yes, May 1 was the official release day! yay! It was the FREE version we had issues with. There was some big glitch over at Amazon (we weren’t the only ones it affected) so our free day didn’t happen yesterday. It will happen on FRIDAY, MAY 4 now.


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