Saturday, March 10, 2012

Free at Last, Free at Last. At Least Some Are.

Catchy title, huh?  Almost as catchy as The Bone Polisher, which is Timothy Hallinan’s classic Simeon Grist novel that is available this weekend on Amazon for FREE!  Actually Saturday (today), Sunday, and Monday.

I honestly can’t believe any book by Tim would ever be offered for free. I mean, why? Who on earth wouldn’t know to read his stuff?  Let’s be real here, Tim’s an Edgar and Macavity nominee who can’t seem to write anything that doesn’t sparkle.  And it’s not as if this one’s the runt of any litter.  It’s the capstone of his LA private detective series, one that has Grist chasing through 1995 gay West Hollywood after the most dangerous adversary of his career, a man who kills his victims not once, but twice: once physically and once in spirit.  And in classic Hallinan fashion, there’s a giant plot twist surprise to come.   

Don’t ask, just download it and decide for yourself.  After all, it’s free!!

Which brings me back to the question, why offer a book for free?

Practically everywhere you look these days on author Internet groups there’s a discussion raging over “setting the right price for your e-book.”  And of course there are tales of phenomenal success achieved by some who offered their books for free, only to reap small fortunes once they were restored to “full price” from the rush of folks who missed out on the opportunity to get in on the freebie deal but still decided to buy the books.

To normal folks (non-writers) that marketing practice may seem counterintuitive, but if it works, who are we to question?  Besides, it certainly gives the author the opportunity of reaching more readers, and hopefully selling other books to those who liked what they saw of the author’s work. 

I know that whenever I go to NYC’s legendary Strand Bookstore I always scour the dollar table for a “deal.”   It’s just our nature I suspect.  And when my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, last weekend reduced to $0.99 the e-book price for the first book in some of its authors’ series (including my Murder in Mykonos, which is also available for $0.99 on Amazon—how could I not sneak that in here), I actually took the opportunity to buy the works of some colleagues I had not read.

So, I guess that’s the answer, the proof of the pudding is in the reading.

All I know for sure is what I said at the top of this piece: take advantage of this offer on Tim’s book, The Bone Polisher.  Besides, if you don’t like it I personally promise to refund your purchase price.

And just so you don’t think this is all about hawking books, here is a public service announcement: Daylight Savings Time starts tomorrow in the United States at 2AM, so set your clocks ahead one hour  (Spring forward, Fall back). 


  1. Is there some mystical connection between the free Tim Hallinan book (definitely an oxymoron)and the fact we lose an hour of time for free. Is that hour in the middle of Tim's book perhaps?

  2. Unfortunately it doesn't work Everywhere - I guess only US. It's $4.99 for us overseas folks. Amazon says this includes "international wireless delivery". I guess those electrons have so far to travel that their costs go way up!
    Never mind, it's STILL a great bargain to get one of Tim's books at that price!

  3. I'm not sure where the hour goes, Stan, any more than I know where the "international wireless delivery" fee goes, Michael. However, I'm willing to bet that in neither case does any come back to the author.

  4. I bought Murder in Mykonos just to try the series. How can you go wrong for $.99? I've found a few authors I like and went back to buy some more of their books. To me, it makes sense as a marketing strategy.

  5. I am living proof that this works. Having heard some buzz on DorothyL, I grabbed Nail through the Heart when it was offered at 99 cents in August of 2010, immediately becoming hooked and gobbling up the next three Poke books at the full Kindle price of 9.99. The same thing happened to me with Leighton's books, and now I have downloaded Dan Waddell's books, as well. The ones that are priced above my maximum Kindle price (essentially anything over $10) I get from the library, which unfortunately does not carry Yrsa's books, but where I have been able to get all 3 Kubu mysteries. Of course I have been reading Cara's books since before there was such a thing as Kindle, since we were meeting at Francophihle lunches -- I'm not sure if it was before Aimee was more than a gleam in her eye, but certainly before Murder in the Marais was published. Anyway, my point is, those free and 99 cent books can be the start of an addiction and pay for itself in purchases of subsequent full-price ebooks.

  6. Kaye and Bonnie, I've come around to agreeing with you. Although "Murder in Mykonos" has always sold well, in the one week since its been offered at $0.99 it's jumped nearly 85% in Amazon rankings.

  7. I shot to the Amazon site and downloaded this book. Thanks.

  8. Bonnie-I got Yrsa's books on Kindle for 9.99 because her books don't get into the library until a year or so after publication in Europe. One thing is certain; Amazon knows how to milk every penny out of us through good marketing. I hope it works out well for you authors :)

  9. Jeff, the check is in the mail. Had to pay extra postage due to the weight of all those zeros.

    How come I never thought of the word "classic"? It's my default adjective from now on.

    I can NOT tell you how much I appreciate this. It's the most thoughtful thing you could have done for me. But now what am I going to blog about tomorrow?

    And thanks to all who have replied.

  10. Tim, you forgot to thank me for the photo of your uncle. Weren't you impressed that I found it?

  11. Uncle Charlie, the life of every party. Brings a tear to me eye, it does.

    Thanks again, Jeff.