Is there anything better than getting something for free? In this post I’m going to go over (in no particular order) the top ten ways to get your hands on a free book.
1 – Limited Time Promotions on Amazon
Many authors and publishers will release their books for free for a limited amount of time on Amazon. I make my books available for free on Amazon from time to time myself. If you’re a writer, you might be wondering why you’d want to make your books available for free. The answer is that a writer’s biggest enemy is obscurity. Nobody’s going to buy your book if they’ve never heard of it. Making it available for free for a limited time is a great way to get reviews, which leads to your book showing up in search results, which results in sales.
2 – Sign Up for Newsletters
Many authors will give you a free ebook for signing up for their newsletter. Plus, if you subscribe to their newsletter, they’ll let you know when they make a book available for free on Amazon. So if your favorite author or publisher has a newsletter or blog, start following it.
3 – Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)
Many publishers and writers give free Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to reviewers before the book is officially released. This is because most books will either fail or succeed within the first week of being published. If you can get a lot of reviews on launch day, your book has a better chance of making it.
Being on a publisher’s newsletter is a good way to find out how to join their “street team”. You get to read a book before it comes out, they get reviews of the book out there. It’s a win-win. And you’re not obliged to write a good review. If you didn’t like a book, you’re free to say so. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Sure, a good review is best, but a bad review beats no review at all.
4 – Contests and Promotions
Some authors set up giveaways on Goodreads from time to time to generate buzz. Tor.com regularly has contests in which anyone who comments on a post is entered to win a paperback copy of a book that hasn’t officially been released yet. Tor.com also gives away free ebooks fairly regularly to their newsletter subscribers. I’ve noticed the books they give away are always the first book in a series, which makes sense. Give book one away for free, then readers are hooked and want to buy the rest of the books in the series. Readers get a free book, the publisher gets a new customer. Everybody wins.
5 – Public Domain
All books written before 1923 are in the public domain, which means they either never had a copyright or their copyright has expired. Many of these are available for free from Project Gutenberg. If you prefer your public domain books in audio form, there’s also LibriVox.
6 – Websites
Some more recent books are also made available by their publisher or author for free. I recently learned that Baen has a Free Library. Some authors such as Cory Doctorow offer free copies of their books on their website. Amazon.com has a lending library for their Prime members (it’s not exactly free since you have to pay for a Prime membership, but if you’ve got a membership already, be sure to take advantage of their library).
7 – Writer’s Conferences
Free ebooks are often included in the SWAG bags at writer’s conferences or on the freebies table. I guess this isn’t technically free either since you have to pay to go to the writer’s conference, but if you’re there already, be on the lookout for freebies.
8 – Podcasts
Many authors make their work available for free as podcasts. Some I’ve enjoyed include Abigail Hilton’s Guild of the Cowry Catchers series, Mur Lafferty’s Heaven series, J. C. Hutchins’ 7th Son series, Chris Lester’s Metamor City series, Space Casey by Christiana Ellis, as well as the works of Scott Sigler and Mac Rogers. If you enjoy the audio book experience, but not audio book prices, podcasts are worth checking out.
9 – The Library
And of course, the most old-fashioned way of getting your hands on a free book is by checking it out at your local library. You have to return it, of course, but you get to read it for free. If your local library doesn’t have the particular book you’re looking for, you can request they add it to their collection, or failing that, you can request an inter-library loan. You can even download audio books and eBooks from your local library using the Overdrive app.
10 – Borrow from a Friend
You can also borrow books from a friend. Not just physical books, but it’s possible to lend eBooks as well.
Know of any other ways to get your hands on free books? Let me know in the comments section!