As St. Martin’s Minotaur prepares to ship I Shall Not Want, the new murder mystery from Julia Spencer-Fleming, they’ve hit upon a way to reach out to readers who aren’t already familiar with the saga of Adirondack police chief Russ Van Alstyne and Rev. Clare Fergusson through its five previous installments—they’re distributing free PDF downloads of the first two books in Spencer-Fleming’s series, In the Bleak Midwinter and A Fountain Filled With Blood, via e-mail registration. But you’ll have to act quickly: The offer expires at midnight tonight.
(Also, you’re basically subscribing to a newsletter, after which you can expect regular updates on St. Martin’s crime fiction—but you could always opt out of that once you’ve got your downloads.)
Not a bad idea—I know that some writers, like science fiction author Peter Watts, have released the early volumes in their series fiction because low print runs made those books difficult to find, but there’s something to be said for the sheer principle of giving readers an easy “in” to discovering new franchises even when those books are readily available. Have you seen anybody else using similar tactics?