Free Ebooks: Not Just for Sci-Fi Anymore!

By Neal Comment

melanie-lynne-hauser.gifWhen Melanie Lynne Hauser (left) read yesterday’s GalleyCat items about the debate among science fiction writers over distributing books online for free, she did a double take: She had recently decided to take the unsold manuscript for Jumble Pie, a novel written before her official debut (with Confessions of Super Mom), and publish it online. “I love this book,” Hauser writes on her website. “When I sold Super Mom, my agent and I pulled Jumble Pie from submission to concentrate on the two-book deal. But Jumble Pie has a special place in our hearts, because it was the book she signed me for… We still hope to see it published some day. But who wants to wait for ‘some day?!’ Not me!”

In email, Hauser revealed more about the decision to release the book online. “I resisted, to tell the truth,” she admits. “But my husband is such a master marketer, particularly on the Internet; he’d been hounding me to do it for months. Finally I realized it’s a good book and it’s not being read, I don’t know if it will ever be read in the traditional form, and what good are my words if nobody reads them?” Building up an audience, she adds, is as important a concern in her genre as it is for the science fiction writers who’ve given their work away online: “The traditional ways haven’t given me that audience yet. So I’m trying to be more proactive and inventive on my own,” she says. “We need to figure out how to adapt in this changing world. And deliver stories in a new way.”

mike-brotherton.jpgWe also heard from science fiction author Michael Brotherton, who was a bit befuddled by the comments from Howard V. Hendrix, complaining that authors who give books away online are ruining things for everbody else. “Maybe he’s really old-fashioned in the sense that he liked it when there were only a handful of science fiction novels published every year, and all of those writers, relatively speaking, got paid a good rate,” Brotherton muses. “We haven’t had a market like that in decades, and will never have a market like that again. Frankly he sounds like the RIAA, who disingenuously equate every illegal music download as a lost sale. While I’m all for all of us publishing writers to make more money, anyone who is really looking to cash in with this science fiction stuff ought to go start their own religion.”