Thursday, February 19, 2009

Give Away Your Books?

According to The Independent out of the U.K., American novelist Stona Fitch has come up with the idea of giving away books.
"I just woke up one morning and told my wife I'd come up with a new way for writers not to make money," he laughs. "The idea was to produce beautiful, interesting new books and give them away, then ask people to give money to charity instead of paying for them."
And that’s what he’s done. He’s created Concord Free Press.
Its first publication, Fitch's novel Give and Take, came out late last year with a short print run of 1,500 copies, which were all quickly snapped up. Recipients were encouraged to read it, donate some money to a local charity, then pass the book on to someone else to do likewise. According to the publisher's website, the enterprise has notched up over $30,000 in donations in three months, from as far afield as Japan, Tunisia and Slovakia.
He’s gotten some other authors to join him:
As for writers, they just want to get their work out to readers. We've already got our next novel lined up for publication in May, and we've got several more in the pipeline after that."
Personally, I think most authors would like to be able to buy food and pay bills. That includes Fitch:
Giving away a novel is one small step in the fight against excessive commercialism, although Fitch is open about the advantages his raised profile have brought – there's been considerable interest in film and foreign rights for Give and Take, since its publication.


  1. Giving away a few books certainly
    works as a promotional tool.

    The giveaways that I set up for my authors typically
    draw hundreds of readers to whatever site they're offered on. An example of a giveaway currently in progress is at

    In barely four days, 173 readers have already checked out this book.

    Stephanie Barko
    Literary Publicist
    "Authors indigenous to the American West"

  2. I agree with you on that, Stephanie. Giving away books to reviewers and as promotion on blogs and tours definitely works in the author's favor. Sometimes giving away free e-books can also ramp up sales - that's been shown.

    I feel, though, that there's an atmosphere of why should we pay for a book when it's not a tangible thing - it's just something made up by a writer.

    I'll pop over and check out the GoodReads giveaway.

  3. Giving away an upcoming release as an ebook just to gain interest makes sense, but I agree - paying bills is important, too!

    That recent Time article talked about how much writen word would be free in the future. That's kinda a scary thought.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  4. It is a bit scary, Diane.

    Who will write all the free words? Assuming newspapers survive, then there will be paid columnists and reporters. But new authors may go by the wayside as they try other means to earn a living. But there will always, I think, be the big names or celebrities who can get deals.

    I don't mean to be all doom and gloom. I don't think books are disappearing or that all ebooks will be available for free. I just wonder about the public's view that writers should give away their product.

  5. The "loss leader" marketing ploy is effective, but it has to eventually lead to SALES and profits, otherwise the authors won't be able to pay THIER bills.

  6. Thanks for the blog comment, Ginger. My prestige with my peers went up several notches!

    I gave away my first book. I put it on my blog and on a blog of its own. I just had to get it out of my system and get on to the next book. Nothing's sellin' anyway, I hear. Might as well have some fun with it!

    The Texas Woman

  7. Smart fellow. Bet that jumpstarted his career AND created a nice grassroots enterprise.

  8. I agree, Marvin. Giving books to those who can help promote or can review is a good idea. So is selling books! :-)

  9. Hello Cher. You have a good attitude about your books! Do you think that helped with your next one?

  10. Howdy Angie. Stona Fitch is already pretty well known. And I'll certainly give him creds for trying to help other writers. I just hope he's not the only one getting the attention of publishers and Hollywood for this deal.

  11. I think it's great if you can afford to do it, but where do you draw the line? I've given away boxes of books to rehab centers, small libraries, etc., and we may all be giving away our books before this economic depression bottoms out--if we want readers.

  12. Good point, Jean. You have to be out on the Internet promoting your books, plus you need reader who will, hopefully, talk about you and your books. But you hope this will lead to people buying your books so that you can make a living writing.

  13. Interesting story. Makes me wonder if the only way to really succeed now is to have a gimmick. Something that creates a buzz about what you are doing. Used to be that people wrote good books and they sold. The whole business is changing.

  14. It does seem that way, doesn't it Maryann! At least the ones you hear about, they seem to have been three when they wrote the book, or gave away 10,000 copies then an agent signed them on, or they ate nothing but cat food for a year then wrote about their love of catnip, or something.


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