Making the Most of Freebies in 2021

Free ebooks and workshops have been fairly common for some time, but over recent months the popularity of free anything appears to have exploded.

I used to resist offering one of my books for free, mainly because my first Casey Holland mystery, The Opposite of Dark was traditionally published a decade ago, at a time when advanced review copies were the only freebies my publisher offered and self-publishing was just starting to ramp up. Things have changed a great deal, including my mindset, and I now offer the book free for anyone who signs up to my newsletter.

I also offered the book free during a BookBub promo event in late 2019, which garnered enough sales of the other books to make this event profitable. Based on a recent blog post from author and marketing guru David Gaughran, 2021 is the year for free, and he recommends offering at least one of your books for free more than ever before. You can read more HERE.

I was recently told that there are now over 2 million books published worldwide, and over one million in the U.S. alone, each year. A staggering number when you think about it. With the collapse of in-person book selling opportunities in 2020, more authors turned to online selling through book promo sites, for example. To compete with all the others, many of them have offered at least one book, if not a whole boxset, for free.

I’ve taken part in a number of cool free workshops lately, one on marketing and others related to fantasy writing. The information’s good and the presenters knowledgeable, but there’s a lot of upsell with links to purchasing software, courses, and other things, which seems fair enough, as long as they’re not bombarding me everyday. But it really does feel like free is king these days, which is okay is you have a series, but not so much if you only have one published title.

Self-isolation and uncertainty is tough for many of us, but I’ve found that taking workshops is a good use of time. Once things go back to normal (whatever that might look like) I doubt I’ll be inclined to spend as much time at home in front of the computer. Who knows, maybe all the free courses will disappear too. It’ll be interesting to see what bookselling looks like a year from now, and if David will still recommend free for 2022.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Making the Most of Freebies in 2021”

  1. I, too, have been taking advantage of free or reduced-price books, workshops, and conferences during this time of COVID. They’ve been keeping me out of trouble, but I’d gladly pay full price if it meant getting back to normal some time soon!

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  2. I agree about the workshops. I’ve taken a lot this year and think nothing of leaving if it doesn’t fit me. There is valuable information being given for free all over the place. I don’t give me books away for free but for no special reason. You have me rethinking that.

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    1. Thanks, Jacqui. Read David’s blog, if you have time. It’s a fairly short piece, but he really does think it’s the way to go while readers are understandably looking for bargains.

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  3. This is food for thought. Free is Ok but I also think a reduced cost, like .99 (for an ebook) works too. As for free online courses and workshops, they have been wonderful during this time. Although spending most of the day in front of the computer can be challenging as well. I’ve done a couple of virtual visits to schools which has been fun.

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