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Free Book by Stephen Bentley

There is much avarice and greed in the book world and it is possibly manifested in its worst form in book giveaways designed to boost an author’s mailing list.

To an indie author, there are at least three kinds of email list subscribers.

  • Readers who are genuinely interested in you and your books
  • Readers who sign up for a free book but stay subscribed
  • Readers who download the free book and unsubscribe faster than you can say, “What about a thank you, never mind a review.”

Obviously, we all adore those in the first two categories. It’s the third category, I dislike.

Yes, DISLIKE, and I don’t care who knows it. I sold books before I had a list and I’m sure I will sell books if I did away with a list.

This is why I dislike folks who sign up, grab the book then disappear:

  • It’s rude
  • It’s discourteous
  • They are probably book hoarders
  • The chances of receiving a review for that FREE book is either slim or more likely, zero
  • They clearly do it to other authors reinforcing the impression they are greedy book hoarders
  • Some, (note SOME), I suspect offer these books in exchange groups that can be found on Twitter
  • Even fewer, I suspect, offer them to pirate sites

On that last point, let me warn them – if I ever discover that is the case, I will report your activities to the relevant law enforcement department. Yes, the law. You are committing a criminal offence – fraud.

The fraud is you purport to be a genuine reader, you sign up for a free book. These books are given away by me and countless other indies in the hope the book is reviewed. But, you have zero genuine intentions. You simply want a digital copy you can sell to a pirate site or offer it for sale yourself.

That is fraud. You are stealing the rights to that book and utterly disrespecting the copyright, not to mention the hard work, time and money spent in and on writing and publishing a book.

Thankfully, those assholes are in a small minority.

Also, thankfully, I have some lovely, genuine fans of my books who have found me by grabbing one of my giveaways by signing up for my Readers’ Club Updates (newsletter).

This is an email I received a few days ago. It made my day.

Thank you for your wonderful newsletter. I really enjoyed the “meeting the authors” link for the anthology. It was a very nice addition.


There was another one received the same day. I don’t reproduce it because it contains personal information relating to the sender. I simply add this: she is now a member of my closed Facebook group dedicated to fans of my books.

I love genuine people. I love folks who show respect and good manners.

Yes, I’m not naive enough to think free book subscribers will stick around forever or free books will be reviewed by every reader. I know it doesn’t work like that. But a bit of courtesy goes a long way, you know.

I got me to thinking a central register of the “greedy ones” would be a good idea. An online register for all indies to submit those reader/subscribers who are abusing the system.

Then again, I guess that probably falls foul of data protection laws. What about protecting us authors from the abusers?

Greed sadly is a feature of our modern world and I do find it difficult to handle at times.

Rant over, actually it isn’t a rant. It’s fair comment. I’m just glad I have a small group of fans prepared to read and review my books and any advanced copies.

They are genuine, honest, people who love to read and I love them. They appreciate the time, effort, and creativity that all goes to make a good read.

If that’s you, why not join us?


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