Random thoughts about writing online for free

Look at my sidebar and you’ll see three books advertised. Look a little more closely and you’ll see two of them are free. Why would I bother writing online for free? I like writing and have proven to myself that people aren’t willing to pay for online books by unknown writers. The exception may be if the writer tells them how he got rich and they can, too. Of course, you never know if the writer is telling the truth, but that does seem to sell books.

Why isn’t writing online for free crazy?

So why would I give away my books? Well, I sometimes feel a compulsion to write. I can write pretty fast. My two free books only took a few days each to write. I knew no one would buy such short books (under 20,000 words), but why write them and just save them on my computer? I decided to publish them and give them away. I have the semi-satisfaction of knowing about 100 people have downloaded them and both of them are available in some libraries. I’d like to see more downloads, but books don’t stay on page 1 or 2 of Smashwords very long.

Serendipity Road took me much longer to write. I worked on it for over a year. The first version was pretty random, so I rearranged the chapters to make more sense. Then I edited it 7 times until I was satisfied with it. I’ve only made $23 on it, but I didn’t expect it to sell. Like I said before, books move down the scale on Smashwords very quickly. It’s buried there now. I managed to sell a couple of copies after advertising on Facebook and Twitter, but the ads cost more than the profits I made.

I’m still proud of Serendipity Road and the other books I wrote. The one person I wanted to impress was impressed. That’s enough for me. She told me I had transformed Serendipity Road from an amateurish but interesting book to a brilliant book. She also liked The Girl with Tiger’s Eyes. She said it was “poetic” in places. She called A Ghost in Cambodia a “masterpiece.” That may have been an exaggeration, but I appreciated the sentiments, especially since I know she never lies.

Writing online for free may seem crazy, but I like to write. I make my living writing freelance articles, so I don’t need to worry about the income from the books. They were my opportunity to write about topics I wanted to write about. I have another book I wrote in about 1998, but I’m not very happy with it. It feels like I tried too hard to be literary. It doesn’t flow very well. Three people have told me they read Serendipity Road in one sitting. At 97,000 words, I’m kind of proud of that. Even I read it in two sittings, and I wrote the book. Even I can’t plow through Soul Surfing: a near death adventure without stopping frequently. I may give it another shot, but I think I’ll have to start over and see what happens. It may be better or I may have to scrap it. We’ll see.


Originally published at www.expat-journal.com on September 5, 2017.