Skip to main content

To Free or Not to Free

YA Author Cory Doctorow is giving away free downloads of his new sci-fi novel, Little Brother. The reviews on Amazon are beyond glowing from such YA titans as Neil Gaiman and Scott Westerfeld. I've downloaded it and am looking forward to the read. BUT ... would you give away your blood, sweat, and royalties so easily?

Doctorow's contention is that obscurity is worse than piracy. Get the book out there, make people aware of it, and book sales will actually increase. It probably helps that the book is, according to reviews, a damn good one. Doctorow covers himself with a Creative Commons license that allows non-commercial sharing. Readers can create fan fic, which is especially important for YA readers, who become invested in the characters and like to continue the story on their own (I certainly wrote my share of comic book fan fic as a teen).

But give away the whole novel? Seriously? Why not just the first three chapters to whet appetites? Would teens' short attention spans stop them from finishing the novel because they have to take the extra step of going to library or bookstore to pick up a copy? I haven't finished writing my own YA novel yet, let alone completed the herculean task of getting it published, so perhaps I'm being too precious about giving it away for free.

Tell me: would you give away your novel (YA or otherwise) for free? Why or why not?