Why Are Readers Punishing Authors For Free Books?

Brace Yourself

As the picture so eloquently points out, opinions are coming.  These are my opinions and the great thing about having a blog is I get to post them and you get to choose 1. If you want to bother reading them or not and 2. If you agree with them or not.  Isn’t the internet great!

Let me start by explaining that first and foremost I am a reader! I may wear other hats from time to time (Blogger – obviously, Reviewer, Promoter, Fangirl) but for me it really is all about the books.  I LOVE books!  I love to read, I have piles of books everywhere, and despite ALL the books I already have I WANT MORE!!!

 I will admit I was late to embrace the whole eBook concept, I mean how could it possibly be the same? Well the answer was it isn’t. It was different but still special in its own way!  Suddenly I had IMMEDIATE access to a whole library of books in AN INSTANT! Not only that but you could read samples of the books FOR FREE!!!  Then something even MORE AMAZING happened.  Authors started offering WHOLE BOOKS FOR FREE!!!

Which brings me to the title of this blog with readers punishing the authors for doing this.  I have been seeing things happening for a while now but lately it seems to be everywhere and so it is time for me to ask…..  Why are readers doing this? Now the sensible ones of you out there are probably wondering what on Earth I am talking about.  How could ANY reader have a problem with getting a FREE book.  I mean worst case scenario you don’t like it so you don’t read it.  The end.   Or if you are a firm believer that everything you read should get a review then maybe you leave the author a review saying you weren’t a fan.  Fair enough! We aren’t all going to like the same thing.  But wait …..  there are some people out there that seem to think this whole act of giving away book 1 in a series is an act of trickery.  An evil marketing ploy to get you to …. wait for it…… BUY THE AUTHOR’S WORK.

Shocking Right?  WRONG!!!!!  Seriously people this is their JOB!!!  You LOVE the words they wrote and they let you share FOR FREE and your reaction is to accuse them of trickery for trying to get PAID for their job? Yes I have had many moments when I get to a cliffhanger and the book ends where I look like Loki below.  And I may or may not have been known to stalk and harass an author to write faster (in the nicest possible way) … but what I am seeing is people writing awful things on Amazon (which are just plain hurtful) but then to make matters worse they give them 1 or 2 star ratings which actually HURTS THEIR SALES!   Why would you do that?  Would you go to a restaurant and taste a sample, love it, then expect the meal to be free?  OF COURSE NOT! You understand that the chef needs to get paid. Here the author is basically GIVING you a free appetizer and then you are moaning about how good it was and that you now have to pay for the entree!!!! 

Let me tell you something you may not have thought about when you posted that evil slur on what was in fact a perfectly brilliant marketing strategy.  That “Free” book you downloaded.  It wasn’t free for the author.  Hours of work have gone in to most of these books and that is JUST the start! Many of these authors then pay for copy editors, proofreaders, cover designers, etc.  That Facebook release party you went to? That wasn’t free!  That bookbub add you one clicked this morning? Again not free!!  Authors LOSE money because at the end of the day what they want is for YOU the reader to LOVE what they write.  Fall in love with the words on the pages and YES BUY THE NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES.  That cliffhanger at the end that has left you wanting more ….. THEY HAVE DONE THEIR JOB!!! YOU WANT MORE!!!!   Oh wait you don’t want to have to pay for it?  Well then you have a problem because… That’s not how this works!! That’s not how ANY of this works!!

So the next time you want to moan about having to PAY about the same as a cup of coffee for an author’s work that you already enjoyed.  Just do me a favor ….. and keep it to yourself!

Melanie V””V #NerdGirlVamp

  • Rene Folsom

    This is so perfect. Spot on! I can’t tell you how many bad reviews I get on my free books because people are upset they have to buy the next in the series. So, thank you for speaking out. <3

  • Noa Xireau

    I didn’t know that readers were punishing authors for their free reads, its straight out crazy!

  • Angelina Windsor

    That is some interesting post!!! Very insightful. Thank you!

  • GAnne

    Interesting post. But here’s the thing, it definitely is a marketing tool. It’s not evil, mind you, but it’s still a marketing tool. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s how it usually is with marketing.

    • HappyWriter

      It is a marketing tool, but not a reason to leave a shitty review. I’ve seen scathing reviews about how they loved the book, but it was evil of the author to give the first book for free and not the others. It just not right to give a 1 star to a book they ‘loved’ only because they may have to pay for other books.

    • Everything about selling a book is a “marketing tool” from the blurb to the cover to the price point, so I don’t really see what your point is. Is your point, that it’s wrong somehow?

  • *Mic drop*

  • My first book is free and it has directly correlated to an increase in people reading and reviewing the rest of my series.

  • good post Mel, there are some crazy peeps out there thats for sure! #Nerdgirlparanormal #LovesFreeBooks

  • Nikki Worrell

    I think I love you.

    • C.T. Green

      Yes, but I want to marry her. :D

  • Livi

    Truth x

  • Luna

    Oh how I love you my Nerdy Vamp. I too do NOT understand the concept of being hateful to an author because of a FREE BOOK. I mean come on! I love free books, I love that I get to sample there work for free and if I don’t love it then I leave it. But if I like it then I buy the rest in the series, or my favorite, the whole bundle! For a really great deal. I personally can’t blame people for getting a little upset at cliffhanger books, where you get part 1 of 5. I really HATE that, but if you love it then that is ok. I just feel like I would rather just pay for a whole book and read it all at once then to just get a taste here and then 3 months later a taste there. I leave those alone because I personally don’t like them. #NerdGirlLuna #ILOVEFREEBOOKS

  • Kathy-Lynn Cross

    I am feeling a plethora of emotion right now. I am laughing, crying, and shouting Amen in my car. Thank you so much, for supporting us, and loving us, …and just “Thank You!” Scythe ya later. x.x

  • Ugh, I see this kind of thing all the time with the whole “how dare they lure me in with a free book?” mindset. But I’m of the opinion that all reviews, from 1 star to 5 stars, are good for a book. Sheer number of reviews is better than nothing. :)

  • DelSheree

    Lol, Mel, thank you for posting this! You can’t imagine how many of these comments I’ve gotten on wattpad! It’s nice to know someone understands ;)

  • Lori

    Hell yes girl!!! Perfectly fucking said I agree 100% people just want something for nothing and gonna always hate! Preach on distance. I will forever support th work of art whether through books, paintings, music whatever the form may be I’m a die hard and loyal fan ♡♡♡♡♡ #nerdgirlarmy

    • <3 THIS TOO! PEOPLE GONNA HATE! BUT WE LOVE! Gladys #XOXOtheNerdGirl #NerdGirlOfficial

  • Oh, if only my husband understood, lol. He bemoans the fact that authors give free books because he know I’ll end up buying one, two, maybe six more of them. Well, to be fair he eventually stops griping when I let him buy a new toy or go to a sporting even he’s been “dying to go to”. It’s a fair trade, I think.

  • MK Harkins

    Amen to that! Oh, that felt good – lol

  • Dena Jo

    I find that the people complaining about the cliffhangers and giving 1- and 2-star reviews are those who *paid* for the book but weren’t warned that it had no ending. Totally legitimate gripe. Easy fix. Book descriptions on Amazon, or wherever, should warn the buyer that the book ends in a cliffhanger. Everyone would be happier. What possible reason could an author have not to let the buyer know that in advance? Yeah, people who don’t like cliffhangers won’t buy your book, but you won’t get a 1- or 2-star review.

  • Anne Conley

    Thanks. I was scared of where this was going, but thank you. :)

  • Electa Scott Graham

    That was …. awesome

  • Decadent Kane

    Thank you for blogging about this. <3

  • Hi NerdGirl Vamp,

    Love this post, thank you for writing it. Your last line > “Just do me a favor ….. and keep it to yourself!” was so wonderfully restrained. ;)

    I truly appreciate your support of authors. You are right on all your points. Aside from the time/effort and cost of writing the book, I’ve paid money to buy my own e-books to send as gifts. I’ve paid postage to mail print copies. I’ve paid for advertising to put my books in front of readers. All this is done to entice readers to discover my writing with the hope they will eventually become fans and buy more books. Yes. Buy.

    I write as a living, not a hobby. Writing is only one aspect of the book. The rest is trying to sell it. Like everyone who works, I expect to be paid so I can put food on the table.

    Writers, like musicians, painters, and other artists can only continue to create if they have the means to do so. Hopefully those who enjoy the craft will write a review or spread the word. For me, I can only ask readers nicely to help me in the process, but the understanding is clear: Readers DO NOT owe writers a thing. Even if they received a free book, it does not obligate them to write a review, and certainly not a positive review if they did not like the book.

    Most authors I know understand this, and most readers I’ve met are extremely courteous and sincere. They want to support their favorite authors by buying their books.

    Readers who expect everything for free are behaving unrealistically. Your restaurant analogy was perfect. For a 3.99 book, an author makes 70% if they are lucky. You only need to do the math to realize you must sell a lot of books to earn a living, AND you have to sell consistently. Marketing and writing draw on two different sides of the brain, so it’s a constant battle for most indie authors to do both well.

    I write for the love of it, but though I have some books for free, I do not offer all my books free and I never will.

    Readers need to realize that behind every book was a lot of hard work. If it wasn’t difficult, then everyone would be doing it. This is obviously not the case.

    Thanks again for your kindness and support of authors,


  • samantha jacobey

    WOW – and thank you!!!

  • Julianna Cardoso Santiago

    I didn’t know this was a thing! Seriously some people have nothing better to do! I find out about the authors I love from their first free book on iBooks! If the book is good I usually buy the rest of the series etc. if not I just move on to the next. It sucks that authors have to suffer for some people being so cheap!

  • Donna A

    Preach it!

  • RJ Thompson

    Wow thank you for saying this. Means so much to us authors when peeps can stand up and say stuff like this. Rock on honey and thank you

  • Heather Gardner

    Thank you. Just, thank you.
    Heather M. Gardner

  • Ruby J

    Wait hold on! So basically people are angry because they get to sample a book for free, which also most of the time (at least for me this is the case) means they get to read a book by a new-to-them author? And they’re angry over it? How is this a thing? No one is making them buy anything, either. I feel like free books, especially when they’re in a series, lets you see if you like the author’s work, if you might enjoy that book, whatever. The only appropriate answer to a free book should be “THANK YOU”. That or “Here’s my review”. Other than that I honestly have no clue why anyone would be angry over free books. Why not get angry over the free food samples given out in malls or supermarket too? *rolls eyes*

  • Heather Long

    Thank you doll.

  • Yep. I don’t even have free books in my author’s catalog, but I’m in total agreement. (I do think free teasers should be advertised as such; it’s rude not to say that the book is incomplete. But that’s an easy thing.) Complaining because people want to be paid for their work? Do you gripe about that to your plumber or physician, too?

  • lisapietsch

    I have so much love – SO MUCH LOVE – for you right now, my heart may burst. May I send you a free book or 3?

    • VampireLovingDork

      <3 V""V

  • Jillian Chantal


  • Siobhan Davis Author

    Brilliant post and very insightful. I completely concur. Thanks so much for supporting authors!

  • Kristen

    You are awesome and I couldn’t agree more with what you said. You expressed how I feel about it perfectly. There are several authors I am Facebook friends with and I’ve heard about the negative comments and reviews because one book was free when the others in the series aren’t. Everyone loves to get free books, but I also love to support the ones creating the works that I fall in live with. Great post!

  • Rebecca Five

    I actually think giving the first book free is a brilliant marketing strategy and I don’t have any problem with it whatsoever. I know authors want me to buy their next book and hey, if I like the free one, I DO buy the next one. I loved Maria Geraci’s That Thing You Do that she offered for free so much that I immediately purchased the other two books in the series. I’ve been introduced to a lot of great authors that way:)!

  • Courtney A. Laytham

    I totally agree. I’m actually an aspiring to be an author on the side besides manga illustration. I had no idea this was going on so when I saw your tweet, I just had to read this.

  • Marissa Farrar

    I think you just officially became my most favourite person EVER!

  • Candace Johnson Fox

    I agree 100%. I love a great series, but most can be read alone. I love that they do that. I have found more new authors that way.

  • DeeDee Dhreamer

    I love free books. I’ll admit, the ebooks are not always the first to be read off my tbr list. If an author has hooked me into wanting more, I’ll look for more, preferably in paperback but I’ll continue in eBook if I must. I’m with you on this one, why punish someone for sharing their blood, sweat & tears with you? If they don’t like the marketing, don’t take the free book. Better yet, pay for it.

  • Karen Hrdlicka

    You are so spot on!!!! I am not an author but I know what my authors pay me to edit for them and when I see them put a book up that they spent hard earned dollars on it breaks my heart. I know it it a great marketing tool but it makes me cringe. I love to find new authors through free books but I have NO problem paying for their other works.

  • Julie Morgan

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! My first book is free JUST for this reason! You enjoyed the appetizer? Wow, great! Here’s the [rest] of the entree’!!!

  • Deborah Patterson

    I just have to say I wondered the say thing about people who get free books then bitch about it. When an author’s gives me their work for free #1 you get my attention, #2 it tells me that you think enough of your work to give me a free first because I am going to have to buy the rest because you’ve hooked me. I love that! I have been lucky enough to find some fantastic authors thanks to a free book. Since I am book greedy, if you’re good to me, then I must get your other work. So I am thankful for those authors who give me a part of their livelihood. And since Claudy Conn has me writing reviews for every book I read now, that is how I say thank for adding enjoyment in my retirement life.

  • Mandy Ward

    *stands up and applauds*

    Beautifully put.

  • B Snow

    Well said, and brilliant SPN gif. :D

  • awesome awesome post! You said everything and more.

  • Debbie Allison

    That is perfect well said!!!!

  • Liz Crowe

    I have a perma free book to start a series that does help some with sales for the other 7 (still pretty cheap) subsequent series books. While I have not encountered this sort of strange reaction to my offer of free reads personally I have heard of others doing so. Thanks for your firm words. Pay the chef. The end.

  • Terri Schaefer

    Sing it, sister! I always thought that marketing strategy was pretty durned clear (why I put the first two books in both my series as permafree). I’ll be honest, it’s NOT just to drive sales to the next book (though of course that’s a huge motivator :)). For me, it’s also the concept that if someone doesn’t like my voice then they haven’t sunk any moola into trying me out. It *should* make people happy. Sigh.

  • Posey Parks

    Thanks for taking up for us Authors #micdrop !

  • Laila Raimes

    This opinion rocks!! Seriously, everything you stated is true. All the hours plotting, character developing, then the first draft, the second and sometimes a third only to go to an editor (which for an indie author such as myself just starting out) is not cheap. Then the cover, and teasers, etc. And this (at least for me) is in between my full-time job as a single mom and my full-time 40+ hour job to make sure my son eats.

    Those 1 or 2 stars are so depressing and painful to see. If all the reader does when looking for a book is take in the amount of stars then it’s over for us. Even if you wrote comments explaining you liked the book but are upset because it’s a cliffhanger and don’t want to pay for the next in the series… it doesn’t matter they’ve already bypassed it.

    Not to mention how difficult it is to make your name known in this business. So yes we offer you a free book hoping you will love it and take a chance on us and tell your friends about it.

    We love writing and sharing our creative world’s with readers, we put our time, money, mind and heart into each book. It’s a sacrifice at times, but we keep doing what we love for readers. I hope if anyone reads this comment they truly understand how much effort goes into writing a quality book and then offering it up for free with the HOPES that readers will notice us and pass it along.

    Think about it, all that work and we’re not even asking for payment…

  • mel_t

    I’ve found a few authors/series’ that I’ve loved and gone on to read more books. I love that I can get a book free to see if I like the author’s style. I have no issue with books that are the first in a series, but I do wish the authors would boldly state in the description that the book is a cliffhanger. nothing worse than getting to the end of the book only to have it not finish at all! In my case, I will likely give the book a pass if I know in advance it’s a cliffhanger, but at least I won’t be annoyed when I’m surprised by it after investing my time in the whole book.

  • SuziSummer

    I LOVE getting free ebooks!! I get to experience a variety of authors that I haven’t heard of and then decide if I’d like to read more of their work. I apprieciate every author for the work they put into a book, even if it’s not quite my thing. So Thanks to all Authors!! Terri Mcneal

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