Free Isn’t a Business Model

It’s a way to help readers find new books.

Today, in keeping with celebrating National Poetry Month, The Inevitable Decay of Francis “Fitz-Pack” Fitzgerald is free, and will remain so for the week, but given that Exciting Press has more than 25 titles–at least 23 of which will be enrolled in free promotions over the next several months, and hopefully indefinitely, as well–it’s not really news that there’s a free title. Our hope is there will always be one, from here on out.

Every time you visit Exciting Press’ Amazon page, you’ll find a short story, novella, essay or essay collection, or novel, free.

And one reason I’ve worked hard to make this possible is to ensure that Exciting Press is truly alternative. When other publishers are wringing their hands about ebook prices (and colluding to keep them high), we want to ensure that you’re getting a lot of entertainment value for your investment–be that an investment of time or money.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why big publishers wring their hands and try to keep ebook prices high. They need to, because they have high operating costs, and big teams, and more than that they’re often part of larger conglomerates with significant bottom lines, and they need to demonstrate their value, as a business, through numbers, sales, and profits. From most numbers I’ve read, most books don’t sell more than a few thousand copies–a figure I’d cite, but I’m going anecdotally here, and you can use Google as well as I can.

But we don’t have to wring our hands. We’re a small operation, and I’m very aware we’re offering a service: storytelling. We’re offering authors’ reading experiences to readers, and though I may be in the middle, I think my role is more as a partner than anything else. I’ve always thought the best writing style serves the story itself, and basically becomes invisible, and that’s what I’m trying to do as a publisher–to become frictionless between readers and writers. To serve solely as a means of delivery. I code. I design. I format. We have an editor who’s brilliant at making stories sing.

I want to become a partner on both sides. I don’t just want to help authors get their work to readers; I want to help readers find new books. Great books. Exciting books. I’m still figuring out this part–I’ve got the publishing bit down, for the most part. But right now, I feel like free isn’t a business model; it’s a marketing and promotional strategy designed to help readers find that new work. I’m less concerned with calling The Prodigal Hour a #1 Amazon Science Fiction best seller as I am that, when it climbed those ranks, 8,000 new readers found it.

And even when our books aren’t free, they’re both reasonably and strategically priced. We’re not just setting everything to 99c and hoping people like a bargain. We’re more careful than that.

We have lots more titles coming. We’re publishing more new work from Nick, and July should see our release of the first installment of Miya Kressin’s awesome The Island novella trilogy. We’re talking to more new authors about publishing their work, as well, and we’re publishing more of my work, too, now that my collection’s broken up and I can publish it more in line with the vision I always had for it.

These are Exciting times, and they call for Exciting books. And that’s exactly what Exciting Press intends to keep delivering.


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