RT Clarification of Its Non Position on Free Ebooks
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The news recently has been all about free ebooks lately, mostly stirred by Oprah’s Valentine’s Day gift of Suze Orman’s bestselling book, Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. More than 1 million copies of the books were downloaded. The news reports have been mostly positive as Yahoo stated that the giveaway did not appear to adversely affect sales.
Carol Stacy, President of Romantic Times, emailed me today after Lynn Viehl posted on the issue of free ebooks. Viehl has given free books away, although not any of her New York published work likely because most contracts ceding US distribution rights to the publisher also cede the right to distribute ebooks. In her post today, Viehl makes a reference to RT:
"Now I wonder if Romantic Times will accuse Oprah and Suze of undercutting other writers’ advances, the way they did with me and Melanie last year. I’m thinking no, how about you?"
Carol Stacy wanted to know what blogger protocol was, because she couldn’t make a comment on Viehl’s site in response to the post. I informed her that some blogs moderated comments and Viehl must be one of them. Stacy informed me that RT had not made any accusations against authors and asked me to the post the following clarification since Viehl wouldn’t allow the comment on her blog. I don’t pretend to understand the beef Viehl has with RT, but I agreed to post Stacy’s response here.
Romantic Times did not say or report in its magazine that it was against free downloads. The article in question was about the e-book industry in general and the mention of free downloads was just a sidebar within the article. Here is the sidebar in its entirety:
As e-books grow in popularity, some authors are embracing the format as a way to give back to fans and attract new ones.
Signet Eclipse and Roc author Lynn Viehl pens free e-books and tie in e-novellas to whet fans’ appetites for her next releases and to thank them for their support.
For other writers, it’s a way to get a book out there that might otherwise never see daylight.
When author Melanie Lynne Hauser realized her novel Jumble Pie might not be published, she decided to make it available for free. "We still hope to see it published someday. But who wants to wait for someday? Not me!"
While this may seem like a boon to fans (free books!) these authors and others like them have angered some in the industry who see this practice as essentially giving away the goods for free.
"To my mind they’re undercutting those of us who aren’t giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work," science fiction author Dr. Howard V. Hendrix said in a statement published online.
No matter who you side with, there’s no denying, e-books sure get people talking!
I read Viehl’s reason for not allowing the comment and I don’t know if I really understand it. Obviously I’ve had issues with Viehl’s blogging style in the past so I’ll refrain from trying to parse out her meaning.
I will say that I am a big fan of ebook giveaways and firmly believe that by giving away free fiction an author can increase her print sales. This phenomenon just occurred for me over the weekend. Last week, I received from Berkley a copy of Maya Banks’ Sweet Surrender. None of the previous Banks books I have read have ever worked for me and I can’t say why I even opened this one up to read. But read it I did and I found that I liked it despite my previous experience negative experiences with her writing. I went online this weekend and saw that her book, Into the Mist, was Samhain’s bestseller. I read the excerpt and bought it.
I thought it was great (it will be one of my March recommended reads) and bought a GC for Samhain and sent it to a friend so that she could read it. So out of one free book, Ms. Banks earned two sales.