What Do You Like In a Freebie?

It has been well established by Lynn Viehl, J.A. Konrath, and others that giving away some of your work for free is a great way to garner readers and fans.  Someone comes along and reads a short story or a novella or even a full length novel set in your world, their appetite is whet, and they go and pick up your real book.  Obviously the freebie should be well written and exemplify your style.  The whole point, after all, is to generate interest in the product that will earn you royalties, right?  So that has always been on my list of things I wanted to do in order to market my work and build my platform.  I want to generate interest in the world I’m creating.

I had thought that I’d do novellas, and I’ve sat down with a handful of ideas for what those novellas would be.  But then it happened.  The story grew.  And grew.  Until I knew it needed a full length novel to tell it.  So I’ve got the kernel of an idea for the next 3 books in this series instead of novellas to write as freebies.  I have an idea for a novella that will take place after HiS to give away (that’s barely a twinkle in my eye as yet),  but for the most part, I haven’t been able to think of many short ideas.  Part of it is that I just don’t think in simple plots that can be wrapped up in a short story or novella length.  But part of it, I realized today, is that I always think in terms of romance.  I felt like in whatever I put out there, I needed to be bringing two people together because that’s what I will be doing in my books.

And I had an epiphany.

I don’t have to write a full fledged romance in these freebie shorts.  Full romance takes time and space to develop, and it’s not something I feel I can do believably in a short space.  What I could do instead is simply write about other aspects of my world.  I have a special forces group as part of my paranormal government.  They have missions.  I could write some of their missions.  Show what they do, what they’re about.  There are other things that I could write about to build interest in the world and expand upon it.  It just wouldn’t necessarily involve romance.  We might could see some “before” situations with future heroes or heroines.  I just don’t know.  The possibilities hadn’t ever occurred to me.

So what’s your preference?  When you’re looking at a freebie from an author you’ve never read (or even for one you have), if that author wrote paranormal romance, would it tick you off if the short didn’t have romance, but was instead some other aspect of that paranormal world?  Do you look for a compact version of everything that writer has to offer in her full length books?  This inquiring mind wants to know.  What do you like in your freebies?

5 thoughts on “What Do You Like In a Freebie?

  1. I think that, if my fave author was writing paranormal romance, and the freebie didn’t have any romance, I’d be disappointed. However, it depends on the style of the author, too. If romance was the driving force behind the main novels, I’d want to see at least some romance in the freebie. If, however, the romance was important but not the major focus of the main novels, I’d be okay with no romance in the freebies.

    The other thing to consider is new readers – if I read a freebie about this special forces group and some really cool mission they’d been on, and decided, based on that, that I wanted to buy your full-length novels, I could end up being really disappointed if those special forces groups are just hanging out in the background and I’m stuck with a romance novel.

    1. What about if what you were reading was essentially a snapshot of a future hero or heroine? So you got kind of a preview of whose book was coming up. How would you feel about that? Because ultimately these special forces guys (some of them anyway) will be heroes of their own books. I guess I also have in mind that this kind of thing would further illustrated other aspects of the world I’m writing about–which maybe would be more interesting to people already hooked on the series than for snagging new readers. Something to think about.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I don’t look for freebies, per say, however that is exactly how I found Lynn Viehl. But I wasn’t looking for her stories, she came up in a search I’d done about writing (can’t remember the details now) but I found her non-fiction Scribd docs which lead to her fiction which lead to purchasing books. (And through her LB & LI I found you…and I can’t wait to read your work.)

    I agree with the above poster in that I need to have a taste of whatever the larger novels will contain, without being mislead.

    Free chapters, rather than novellas, could be the answer.

    I don’t own a reader so full length novels, free or otherwise, that I download are hard for me to read. Sitting at the computer reading is NOT how I like to enjoy books. So while I have some full length novels sitting on my computer to be read, they are doing exactly that — sitting. Novellas, however, have been read. So short and sweet would be my recommendation.

    What I’ve seen work — novellas, chapters, shorter excerpts, audio, serial chapters.

    I get most of my book recommendations from message boards…crazy as that is. It doesn’t seem to matter what the site is either, there are always threads dedicated to books — what are you reading right now, I’m looking for a new series, book recommendations, etc. Now that I also stalk author sites/blog *grin* I find even more reads.

    And all that’s probably a round about way of saying I haven’t a clue, LOL

    1. Yeah I’m about the same. I have several full length novels I grabbed for free from one place or another, and they are also just sitting. I don’t like reading on my computer (books anyway) either, which is part of why I’ve been resistant to the idea of getting a reader (that and the price). Anyway, what I think I’d like to do is a hero and heroine gallery. Snapshots of them before their books. Teasers or introductions to them, but you’d get their full stories later on.

  3. I would love having extra background! For me, much of it is otherworld immersion, and the more I can know about the fantasy world and how it works, the better. One idea might be to let us see an early meeting of the romantic pair, or just provocative introductions to each of them, completely apart from the partner, a whetting of the appetite. Of course, writing these takes time away from the big picture, and from those intriguing little new project ideas that seem to keep popping up, but . . . I think it could be very profitable. I know that I am hesitant to just jump into new authors without having read something of theirs first, but if I like it, I will end up with every work they have ever put out.

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