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The First Hit Is Free

Should authors give away samples?

by
Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Bio

October 18, 2013 - 2:00 pm
shutterstock_83315077

Hey, buddy, want to try a novel? The first taste is free!

Book Plug Friday!

Indie authors — and not so indie authors — are always desperate for ways to publicize their novels.  For some of us, the best way to do it turns out to be giving away free samples.

For years, Baen Books experimented with this.  Baen’s Free Library, started out years ago giving an author’s book absolutely free in e-format.  At the time all the publishers predicted total doom and failure for this experiment.  Turns out they were wrong. Most of the more fervent Baen fans got their start in the free library.

In fact, in 2004 when we put my collection Crawling Between Heaven And Earth in the free library it jumpstarted paper sales. I’ve taken it out now, because it’s old enough not to be representative of my current work (though I still sell it on Amazon, I didn’t want people to think it was the best show of my work), but for a while it was a great advertisement.

One of the ways writers publicize their work is to write/post novels in chapters on their blogs. This week, Charlie and I asked people to send us links to the novels they’re serializing for free.

So, Pam Uphoff sent us this:

Did you ever wonder what a rough draft looks like?

Brace yourself! I post chapters on my website, and my masochistic wonderful fans tell me what’s wrong with them. Some times I take their criticism to heart, and sometimes I ignore them. More often I shriek “How did I miscommunicate *THAT* badly!!!!!”

But if you have a strong stomach, and don’t flinch from rampant typos and brutal cruelty to the innocent comma . . . I’m seventeen posts into _The God of Assassins_. Here’s the first post. Genetic engineering led to ESP, telepathy, telekinesis . . . in a fight between magic and machinery, does anyone win?  Set in the world of Outcasts and Gods.

Fantasy not your cup of tea? Then try Celia Hays’s historical Westerns:

This is – an amusing trifle I am calling “Lone Star Sons” – it’s a re-tooling of The Lone Ranger franchise, but with all the identifying marks scrubbed and scraped off. I’m posting them as I write – eventually this will be a YA adventure aimed at tweens and teens:  Lone Star Sons free samples!

And from Kiti Lappi, all the way in Finland,

I’ve started posting sample chapter of the novel I’m currently writing too, so here are the links to the first two. I’ve been planning to put up several, although I will propably take most down once I publish the novel. These are not edited, and there are some big info dumps in the beginning so especially the first two chapters may not be an ideal example of my writing, and perhaps this is not that good an idea, but I had also planned to put the edited chapters up, for comparison, once I get there. Getting started seems to be one of my problems, info dumps seem to be something that help there, I’ll then slim them down when I edit.  Chapter One and Chapter Two.

And if you feel particularly adventurous, I’m posting a steampunk fantasy a chapter every Friday on my blog. This is Rogue Magic.

Meanwhile, if you’re an indie writer, do not just give ALL your work away for free. It’s fine to give the first draft away, but the polished stuff, make them pay for it. People don’t value what they get for free. So polish, get them covers and put them up for sale.

And meanwhile, writer or reader, consider one of the fine books below. Most of them will let you try a sample first.

The first taste is free!

Remember, send email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines. The basic rules: TITLE, AUTHOR, AMAZON LINK, and a SHORT blurb. Try not to put much formatting in the blurb, and do keep it short — we’re going to start sending long ones back to the submitter for editing.


cover

Death of a Musketeer
By Sarah A. Hoyt (writing as Sarah d’Almeida) 

When Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan come across a corpse that looks like the queen, their immediate thought is that it’s a plot of Cardinal Richelieu’s. Truth turns out much stranger than that, and in their fight to discover the true murderer, the four must brave death, injury, dishonor all while performing superhuman feats and keeping their honor and their loyalty to each other.


cover

The Musketeer’s Seamstress
By Sarah A. Hoyt (writing as Sarah d’Almeida) 

When Aramis’ mistress is killed in a locked room that contains only himself and her, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he killed her. Nonetheless, his friends, Athos, Porthos and Aramis stand by him and try to find the real murderer. Meanwhile Aramis, exiled from Paris and forced to return to the ancestral home, finds far more than he wished to know about his family secrets… and their possible connection to his predicament.


cover

Bittersweet Farm 3: Wingspread
By Barbara Morgenroth 

“Surprise!” Greer’s mother says with her unannounced arrival. What Victoria Swope is doing in town is a mystery but they quickly find out and no one is pleased.

When Greer demands to be home-schooled with Talia, the lessons at Bittersweet Farm aren’t restricted to dressage, cross-country and show jumping. If the half-sisters can’t get along, one of them will be sent abroad to finish high school. Unable to bear leaving the farm’s trainer, Lockie Malone, or her horse, CB, Talia grits her teeth and tries to move forward.

It’s soon obvious that everyone at the farm faces changes and challenges. Solving them is difficult and maybe impossible.


cover

Bad Apple 1: Sweet Cider
By Barbara Morgenroth 

“You tell and next time you won’t even be able to crawl away.”
Neal Marchal lived with this threat for the next eight years. When she finds her neighbor murdered, she knows who did it. The why is the secret the family has been keeping forever. The reminder to never reveal the secret is her limp.
She rebuilt her life and now Neal has everything to live for–music, performing and a growing affection for the young man who pulled her to safety.
Then Joe comes home. Neal knows Joe’s going to finish what he started 8 years ago because she told. But this time Neal vows the outcome will be different.


cover

Blackthorn Knights
By Stewart Felkel 

When Robert Temple proposed to his college girlfriend Portia the last thing he expected was to find himself following her home to El’Ori. Especially considering her home is an island kingdom in another universe; a kingdom that is part of the much larger Rhavinian Empire.

Unfortunately the two of them find their new home in troubled times. For a small kingdom it has more than its share of problems. For starters there is the horde of part demon barbarians who have begun raiding the island from the sea. To compound matters the Rhavinian Lord Deputy of the island, in his paranoia and greed, believes the raids to be the work of rebels. He refuses to provide aid while enforcing the ban on personal weapons and stripping the island bare of its wealth and resources.

Seeing no relief in sight Temple decides that his only choice is to risk everything he has grown to love by forming a warrior brotherhood known as the Blackthorn Knights. It’s a desperate gamble, for even if they drive off the invaders they’ll still risk their fates at the hands of the Rhavinian Empire as rebels. In a land of scheming nobles, wizards, powerful empires, and ancient monsters can one man save everything that he holds dear? With his bow in hand Temple is determined to try.

Blackthorn Knights is a 35,000 word novella from the author of Carrier and Offerings. The sequel Thorn in the Side is soon to be forthcoming.


cover

Ten Nobodies (and their somebodies)
By Martin Drapkin 

Here are funny and insightful narratives by fictional “nobodies” who worked for or otherwise served famous people. We meet Horatio, “a sort of muse” for a grieving Will Shakespeare; Mose, a masseur and bedtime reader to bisexual pirate Anne Bonny; and Parson, a spiritual advisor to Davy Crockett. You’ll enjoy the stories of Buffalo Hump Woman, who served as General Custer’s hairstylist and more, and young Mimsy, a tea party assistant to aged Lewis Carroll. Pretty Antoinette served as a maid for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and rotund Louie was a food-loving press aide for President Taft. Burnt-out Jean was Marilyn Monroe’s fortuneteller, and then there’s Percy, who became a spy for Vince Lombardi. And then there’s Solly, Meyer Lansky’s trivia research assistant in Miami Beach.


cover

KLOUT SCORE: Social Media Influence, How to Gain Exposure and Increase Your Klout
By Susan Gilber 

Find out why Klout is to the social media and digital world what credit scores are to your finances – the higher the Klout score, the more ‘clout’ you have in your business world. This book is a step-by-step guide that explains:

What Klout is
How to get started using Klout
Why engaging your customers on social media will increase your Klout score while maximizing your digital influence and bringing you more exposure online.


cover

Pirates Cave
By Jay Bahre 

On the last day of school before summer vacation started two boys ended up at Pirates Cave. John found an old bottle in the sand that he thought was just some junk. That had washed up on shore But Jason knew better and he took it home to study it.

Who was this man they meet on the beach? He told the boy’s he was a Pirate named “Mad Dog” John wasn’t so sure, but Jason was curios and that’s what lead him back there to Pirates Cave.

When Jason turned up missing this man “Mad Dog’ was the prime suspect. But he was no where, to be found. Everyone turned to John for help, but all the information he could give could not help.

It wasn’t until Detective Lenny Waters did some research on Pirates Cave until they came up with some leads to where Jason might be.


cover

Space Race I: Solar Flare
By Del Herring 

What if a multinational corporation had total control of its employees in space through the supply of oxygen? The workers would receive the same harsh treatment inflicted on disadvantaged workers since ancient times.

The corporation would recruit workers who use the least oxygen (small women) to be the brains controlling robots doing the heavy lifting. With no exposure to Earth’s gravity, the workers would be physically weak. They’d be crushed into blind obediency with no exit but death.

What happens when the persistent human habit of taking advantage of the weak collides with the incredibly resilient human trait of hope?

Meet the loxies—the space race.


cover

Justice and Juniors: A Cat Among Dragons, Book 2
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

Another day, another crisis survived. Rada Ni Drako and Zabet dodge angry parents, irate timeship owners, corrupt businesses, and a passive-aggressive King-Emperor without too much stress (or loss of money). But when Rada puts loyalty ahead of court rank, scales spray and the fur flies!


cover

Fire on Iron
(Book One of Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles)

By Andrew Fox 

Lieutenant Commander August Micholson lost his first ship, the wooden frigate USS Northport, in reckless battle against the rebel ironclad CSS Virginia. However, Flag Officer Andrew Foote offers the disgraced Micholson a chance to redeem himself: he can take the ironclad gunboat USS James B. Eads on an undercover mission to destroy a hidden rebel boat yard, where a fleet of powerful ironclads is being constructed. But dangers far more sinister than rebel ironclads await Micholson and his crew. On the dark waters of the Yazoo River, they become entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle devils both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy.


cover

Fourth Sword
By Kiti Lappi 

Magic worlds. Dreamworlds. Wonderlands. Parallel universes?

Laura had dreamed of them most of her life. Worlds with unicorns, and dragons, and heroic men fighting monstrous foes with swords, beautiful damsels who might be rescued or be the rescuers themselves, and kind wizards in long robes who counsel wise kings or tell a humble farm boy that he is the lost prince. Where one could forget worrying about the price of gas, or getting stuck on the phone when every choice leads just to another automated answer telling you to press 1, 2 or 3, or ending up sitting next to the drunk smelly guy in the crowded bus stuck in a traffic jam… and finding a parking spot because one can always find a place to park a horse.

With a life which had not been exactly well managed reading, watching and dreaming of such worlds had offered her one of the few reliefs. But then, one ordinary evening when she is walking across the parking lot to her so called car the parking lot, the car and everything else is suddenly just gone. And what she gets in their place does include unicorns, and maybe dragons, and magic, and handsome men with swords (and the minor annoyance of some very beautiful local damsels).

And monstrous foes.

Laura could have done without the monstrous foes part. Especially since they seem to have taken a special interest in her. Her realized dream is no longer a dream, it has turned into a nightmare. And in order to survive she has to become the hero. If she can.


cover

The Demons of Khemas
By Kiti Lappi 

Tikka worked as a tavern wench, but she did not want to be one for the rest of her life. She wanted security, a family and a husband with a stable income, and she though she might have a chance for those since not only was she pretty, due to accident of birth she was also quite well educated for somebody of her class. So she dreamed of somebody like a trader, a potter, a stoneworker or even a tanner (they smelled bad but the money was good), now a blacksmith would have been just perfect, or… almost anything but a mercenary warrior. A man who would most likely end up dead or a cripple after saddling her with a bunch of children and, probably, lots of debt (everybody knew they were never any good with money).

Instead, in a dark and dangerous world of demons, ghosts, ancient cities and cursed families she falls for a man who is not only a mercenary, but also a barbarian from the far north. Not that she is willing to admit she’s in love, no matter what her friends keep insisting.

But when he disappears she can’t just let it be. She has to find what has happened to him. No matter where her search will lead her.

Her life is about to become very interesting.

Contains violence, but no detailed descriptions, and a little bit of (sweet) romance.

Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin write and blog on science, science fiction, self-improvement, culture, and politics for PJ Lifestyle. Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines for Book Plug Friday, a weekly listing of independently published e-books.

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All Comments   (3)
All Comments   (3)
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Sampling has worked very well for me via SmashWords's sampling mechanism. (http://www.smashwords.com) It also works well for the prospective customer: He can avoid an unfortunate purchase if the sample displeases him. Overall, I'd say everyone wins.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think so - I, too, learned from Baen, and am snippeting my latest novel on my website. Getting good responses to it, and maybe by the time it's out in December it will already have a following.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
YES YES YES!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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