Ebooks are easier to share -- you can do it across continents with a couple of keystrokes. You can also get a number free just by searching retail sites for such things as "free cozy mysteries." Authors can also choose to let purchasers lend an ebook, usually one time only. (Not true for all books.)
What if an author wants to share books with a bunch of readers? We like to sell books, so why share for free? The primary reasons are to encourage reviews and create enthusiasm (a.k.a. buzz). Though authors are the primary audience for these ideas, readers can use them to ask an author for a book.
Popular methods authors use are:
1) A pdf sent to the reader's laptop. Clunky but functional, and works for everyone willing to read an electronic book.
2) Copy (in one of several formats) sent directly to a reader's Kindle. Every Kindle has a 'free' address that can receive documents from approved senders. If you aren't familiar with this terrific sharing method, check out my earlier blog post.
3) Smashwords coupons. Authors who publish on this site can create coupons for free or reduced priced books, in any format. I create them with long-term effective dates so I don't have to remember to check expiration dates.
4) Instafreebie lets authors load a book and give it away as a mobi, pdf, or epub. The site can be used for books published anywhere, as long as the person providing them to Instafreebie is authorized to do so. (Here's a sample of one of mine, Falling into Place.) FYI - authors can use Instafreebie for (dare I say it?) free, or pay a monthly fee to publicize a free book and garner names for their email lists.
5) Book Funnel also lets authors provide copies of their books, in multiple formats, via a link to their site. Books here can also be published anywhere. While Book Funnel has no free option for authors, fees are less than Instafreebie if an author provides relatively few books per month. This site is also integrated with programs that provide authors with recipient email addresses.
6) Goodreads Giveaway is still for paperbacks only, and prizes are by random drawing. Generally it has newer books. Unlike Instafreebie and Book Funnel, readers can peruse a list of free books. However, no guarantee they'll win one.
7) Author group giveaways are generally tied to Instafreebie or Book Funnel, but some are run independently and can be found on Facebook, or referenced on Twitter. Readers can choose one or all of a group of books promoted together.
8) Bookshare is a site for individuals with a print disability -- such as low vision or difficulty holding a book. There are requirements to be certified to use the site (and who can certify), but if you have difficulty with print books, the site is worth checking. Annual fee required.
9) Ebook Discovery lists free books daily, generally organized by subject or genre. Links are usually to a site such as Instafreebie. I hesitated to mention them, because there are many such sites, but I've used them and found it a seamless process.
Some sites have lists of available books, some simply give authors a place to direct readers and authors publicize the availability. You can search some of these sites passively, but you can also email an author to see if they have books on sites such as Instafreebie or Book Funnel.
Readers are most likely to get books if they say they will review them. Free books do not require you to leave a good review (or leave one at all). Sites such as Amazon require that reviewers indicate if they received a free copy.
As one who sells books, I love buyers. The hope is always that a reader may borrow or receive free one book and choose to buy others by the same author. Bottom line, keep enjoying books!
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