Why is My Fiction Free to Read?

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A question I get asked a lot from friends and family is, "Why are you uploading your series for people to read for free?" So I thought it would be an interesting topic discuss. This is a blog post so feel free to discuss with me in the comments below! At the time of writing this post, I have two series that are free to read here on the blog: White Stag Trials & Sonder Stories.

Sonder Stories was always intended to be a free to read series. I think it could be a series that a lot of people will enjoy and get behind. It could even be something that people who don't usually read enjoy, so I want it to be as accessible as possible. I also had the idea that I could collaborate with other writers - so making the series free to read made sense right from the get-go.

White Stag Trials on the other hand, started as a series I put on Channillo - a serial literature website. Unlike now, to access the series (or any series on the site) the reader would have to have a paid membership to read more than a few sentences of it. So why would I give up getting paid to write this series?


Inspiration: Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker

The earliest inspiration for this decision came from one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. In 2008, Sanderson began releasing Warbreaker - a fantastic book by all accounts and one I highly recommend - he released it as he wrote it, inviting readers to peer into his process even in the draft versions of the book.

He wanted to experiment, as an already successful fantasy author he wanted to give something to his readers for free. Not that I think Sanderson had money to burn, in fact he expresses that he does have some concerns about releasing the book for free which you can read in full here. 

Here's the part that inspires me to follow his lead:

I, personally, feel very differently about art and the public than certain record executives appear to feel. I think that people WILL pay money for something they’ve already read if they liked it enough. They can always get books for free via the library anyway. Besides, I’m not trying to recruit people to buy one book; I’m trying to recruit lifelong fans who will still be reading Brandon Sanderson novels twenty years from now.
— Brandon Sanderson - January 2008

I loved Warbreaker and went on to buy and read many other books he had written. I must say that I'm a fan. Having been involved in his experiment of releasing Warbreaker free to read has impacted me both as a reader and a writer, so let's talk about my reasons for following Brandon Sanderson's example.

My Reasons

Like the quote from Brandon Sanderson above, I want to build lifelong fans by giving them my best stories - for free. Besides, what's the point of making a few bucks on a subscription site like Channillo or Serial Box (no offence to those services I appreciate that they are wanting to keep serial literature and reading alive and well) if I don't have readers to back me up? Writing serial fiction isn't for everyone, neither is reading serial fiction. But if just a few people read and enjoy my writing - there's a certain richness that I get that can't be bought.

Will I Always Release my Books for Free?

We'll see. For now, my fiction is free to read and I don't intend to suddenly put a paywall in front of those series. I do plan on having complete versions of the books available for download (once they are finished) and those wont be free. They're more of a way for readers to support the series if they choose to (the original stories will remain free to read). 

As far as future releases go it's hard to say. Right now I'm only focusing on these two series and the occasional short story. 

For the Comments

What are your thoughts on free books? There are plenty of good series for free on free WordPress accounts that I've seen and some that I've read. Have you read fiction that you didn't have to pay for and enoyed?

- Daniel R Graham