Author Topic: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it  (Read 5115 times)

littleman

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Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« on: October 26, 2010, 04:20:52 AM »
Here is a SciFi writer who gives his ebooks away for free and still manages to make $70-80k/year.

The NPR article:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2010/10/25/130811846/doctorow

His website:
http://craphound.com/

Drastic

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 11:59:52 AM »
"I'm doing everything," he says.  "I'm doing everything I've ever done that ever made me money, and everything that anyone else has ever done that seems to have made them money."

In other words, Doctorow is giving away free e-books in hopes of getting people buy the paper books; he's offering print-on-demand paper books with four different covers through Lulu.com; he's soliciting donations; and he's printing 250 hand-sewn limited-edition hardcovers that will run $275 each.
____________________

Great angle.

littleman

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 04:34:31 PM »
I've done something very similar but my product was free software, it did okay.  Yeah, to make it work you have to work every single angle, you have to have ads, you have to have a paid option, I had a store too where I sold related products.  I did okay, but it was a lot of work for the money.  There were lots of fans of the project, but fandom doesn't pay the bills.

That said, I would do it again if I had the right idea and it was something I enjoyed.

Honestly, I think that is the problem with a lot of these blogger types, they have the user base, but they are so afraid to monetize them because they think it will offend them.  Yet, if you look at any large institution that gives away their service they always hit the user over the head with opportunities to pay for something, a donation subscription, or a related product.

agerhart

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2010, 04:04:18 PM »
Somewhat similar, we've discussed getting into the free ebook game simply for the lead gen aspect.

Show an ad for a free ebook that is relevant to the content
User has to go through step 1-x of offers before getting to the ebook

Lots of guys are doing it and making dough

DrCool

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2010, 06:11:23 PM »
And there are thousands of PLR (Private Label Rights) ebooks you can find on nearly every topic so you don't even need to write it yourself.

grnidone

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2010, 04:58:13 PM »
This is absolutely fascinating..I've been thinking of doing this for some time.  Good to know it can work.

Leona

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010, 02:43:18 PM »
You can also always go one step further by offering out with master resell rights and get others to promote your book for you with cobranding (if available with your ebook compiler). This will help widen the audiance depending on the business model. Something I have specked out and is ready to go when I need it, got the relevant tools, plan etc for but not actioned due to time contstraints and businesses I have run with.

I think it is a great model if applied to the right project.

jangro

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2010, 03:04:47 PM »
> Good to know it can work.

It can work, but it helps if you're already famous.  Cory Doctorow is at least internet famous as a co-editor on boingboing and was heavily involved in the EFF among other initiatives related to open source.  He's no ordinary slouch.

It's *cool* to help this guy make money by buying his stuff instead of getting it for free.  When his book "Little Brother" came out, I remember hearing people talk (on twitter mostly) about the fact that they paid for the book even though it was available for free.


mivox

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2010, 12:12:14 AM »
Indeed... using Doctorow as an example of "what can be done with free ebooks" isn't entirely applicable to a comparative no-name. I'm sure it can still be done to bring in a sideline income, if you have the time, but I *reeeealllly* doubt anyone who isn't already an internet cool kid is going to make that much money at it.
I would rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not. ~Lucille Ball

littleman

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 02:10:34 AM »
I had a free-software project that brought in at its peak about $6k/month.  Now to get that I had to pull every trick I leaned in both marketing and SEO.  I also hit people over the head with opportunities to donate, buy wares and do monthly contributions.  I made it really easy for them to give.   The project was started without any name recognition, but I think it was the right idea and I had the right timing.  I am not saying its easy, but its possible.

Brad

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 10:25:32 PM »
First, Doctorow can really write.

Second, it is hard for a new or midlist author to break out of the pack, especially if your publisher is not spending advertising dollars on you. So to break out, Doctorow decided to gain some traction by giving away ebook versions of his books - use WOM on the Internet to rise above the pack.  It's worked.  A lot of readers will buy their favorite books in dead tree editions but first you got to get them to try your writing.  Reader bait.

Michael Martinez had something similar happen when a free ebook of his ended up on a file sharing service with like 100K downloads. Suddenly people were searching for him by name looking for more books on Tolkien right when the movie frenzy was hitting. 

Baen Books has done something similar with the Baen Free Library.  Baen is a very traditional science fiction publisher, but they have found that by giving away some titles for free, it has increased sales of both paid ebooks and print.  They usually do this by making the first book in a series free at the Library it gets people hooked and they buy the rest.  Or they use it to reintroduce authors from 20 years ago to a whole new generation of readers that have grown up with downloads.

mivox

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Re: Writer gives away ebooks and makes a living from it
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2010, 11:21:02 PM »
@littleman: I'm thinking software and books aren't necessarily on the same level... although really, I haven't the faintest idea, having never written either one. lol

I wonder which would be easier to capitalize on?
I would rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not. ~Lucille Ball