- It means that you, the reader, do not have to pay to read a longer work of fiction that I have written.
- It means that there is literally no point in anyone pirating this e-book: all someone has to do is go to the Smashwords page and download themselves in whatever format they want.
- And yes, I did say in whatever format. This is keeping in mind the available formats from Smashwords, but what it boils down to is that most, if not all, e-readers will be able to support the file.
One thing people haven't asked me is why I'm releasing the book for free. For a start, it helps me get my name out there. I plan on editing Meet Sam a lot over the next few weeks to get it ready for submission to a publisher, and this will be something I hope people can enjoy in the meantime.
There's also the fact that I've wanted to give a Christmas present out for a very long time: this is that present. Free for me and free for you. Simple.
I enjoyed writing the book, and the few people who have read it have enjoyed it, so with any luck it will appeal to the wider audience of the whole of the Internet. (I jest, of course...).
And why Smashwords? Aside from hearing a lot of good things about them, I wanted to get the book away from the little corner on the Internet I call my website. While I love my website, and while I loved the idea of having the free chapters there to download, it wasn't practical. While the server would have been able to deal with the traffic, I had no way of knowing how many people were actually downloading the book. Smashwords should fix that problem, while also putting the book in the market.
Mostly, though, I just want to have fun with this, and I want to have a book available for people to read. So many people in college have heard me say I'm a writer and aside from the website, there's nothing there for them to really base that on.
I do have a request, however: I want people to read this book. I want honest feedback on the book. What did people like? What did they not like? Would they recommend it to a friend? Is there a glaringly obvious typing error I missed in my edits? (That one's a joke... I've done everything I can to make this as perfect as possible in terms of spelling and grammar!) Mostly, I want to know if people enjoyed the book. Reading should be fun.
Remember, though, that this isn't the last book I'll be releasing. I have a project in mind that I have told people on various social networking sites, and I aim to publish things to do with that in the same way, while aiming towards the traditional publishing route with other books. I don't believe authors should restrict themselves to one or the other, especially not today.
Readers who still buy paper books should be given the option to read something extra by an author if they really want to. At the same time, readers who have only read the e-books might be encouraged to go for a paper book if they liked the author enough. This isn't just me I'm talking about. This is how I believe the publishing industry might survive in an age when e-books are getting stronger. Readers need more options, but not authors shouldn't be restricted to one market or the other in order to give a reader these options.
With that said, this is my first step into the publishing world. This is the first, but not the last, free book I publish. I can't say for sure what's coming next or when, but I will do my utmost best to ensure that there will always be new material out there by myself for people to read. This is a lot for myself as it is for people who genuinely love to read, and given the economic climate, I'd like to offer something for free to make sure that, so long as people have Internet access, people always have options of books to read.
So, quick recap, back to where this started: Stepping Forward is out tomorrow, December 15th 2011, for free. The first step of the longest journey of my life begins then.