Stop Asking Indie Authors for Free Copies of Their Books

Day 24 [New Year’s Resolution]: Stop Asking Indie Authors for Free Copies of Their Books

If you’re an indie writer, it’s highly unlikely that you’re swimming in riches right now. It’s likely that you have put a lot more money into your project(s) than you’ve gotten out of them. Maybe you attempted to get traditionally published and then self-published as a backup, or perhaps you decided to go indie from the start in order to maintain complete control over your work.

If you’re not an indie writer, then you might not realise the hard work, money, and time that is put into re-writes, editing, finding beta readers, more editing, book cover design, publishing, and marketing, not to mention the months or years put into writing the book in the first place.


If you know an indie writer, or you are a self-published writer yourself, you’ll know that it isn’t the easiest or most lucrative path to take. Writers write and publish for the love of writing, of creation, and the pride of having something that they made out in the real world.

If the writer has followed the 8 essential steps before publishing, then it isn’t unreasonable to assume that they have spent at least several months and several hundred dollars on getting it “out there.” Why, then are writers still being asked for a free copy?

People who know indie writers usually don’t take much interest in their books unless, perhaps, they are avid readers and the books are written in a genre that genuinely interests them. This is OK; after all, you can’t expect someone to read something of yours just because they know you.

An indie writer has put so much time and money into their work that being asked for a free copy is something of an insult. If you were involved in the book, as an editor, designer, or beta reader, then asking for a free copy is acceptable, but if you’ve shown no interest, how is it fair for you to suddenly ask for a free copy (and a free paperback, no less)?


To give you a free electronic copy, the writer has to send you the original document or convert it to PDF. In a lot of cases, they have to instruct you on how to get it onto your Kindle. Sometimes, people will want a free paperback, so the writer has to pay for the printing and shipping costs. That’s an awful lot of work for someone giving away a free copy of a product they made.

Imagine walking into an electronics store and asking for free stuff. Even if you know someone who works there, it is surely out of the question. A book, something that took the time, effort, and money of the writer, is a product, not just a hobby. Respect that.

If the writer offers you a free copy, by all means accept. Just do them a favour and actually read it. If you don’t plan on reading it, don’t take a free copy. 

If you don’t want to support an author you know, then that’s your prerogative. But don’t ask for a free copy just for the sake of it. If you want to read their book, buy it!

6 thoughts on “Stop Asking Indie Authors for Free Copies of Their Books

  1. The only time I disagree with this is if a reviewer is requesting a copy, with the specific intent to read and review. Now sure, the author is taking a gamble on the reviewer, hoping that they’ll actually get around to reading it and reviewing it favourably (from personal experience, reviewers often have a ton of review copies to get through, though if they’re specifically asking for a book, chances are they’ve got enough interest in it to bump it near the top of their list anyway), but that’s the fun of the publishing world. (You mileage may vary on that sense of ‘fun,” of course.)

    Though for everyone else, yes, I completely agree. Being indie doesn’t mean being desperate to send copies into the wild, and I think a lot of people who aren’t familiar with writing and publishing don’t really understand that. There’s this image of indie and self-published writers being desperate for the somebody, anybody, to have a copy of their book, even if they had to give it away for free. It’s a shame, because it demonstrates the lack of value that people have for indie authors. :/ I’ve known (and still know) some amazing indie authors who write amazing things.


    • Yeah you should stop doing that, because you worked hard on making a product and that product should be paid for.

      I was in the same boat with my first book, was forcing it upon everyone and then got upset when most of them didn’t read it.

      Don’t give away any more! Advertise, sell, don’t give up for free 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I very much understand. And agree with you overall. My give-aways have been only to two arguably justifiable groups: a handful of online reviewers who gave honest reviews in exchange for a mobi (I was happy with all the reviews, fortunately, and they have undoubtably generated sales), and, since my second book is, to my knowledge, the only novel yet published with a protagonist dealing with Meniere’s disease (even if it isn’t a “disease book”), I offered free copies to members of a Meniere’s support group I’m a member of (four of them accepted my offer, three have since read it and written back to me expressing their appreciation because my book is likely helping the public in a small way to better understand the rare condition; also, at least one person on the list bought the book simply because I offered to give it away). So the first giveaways helped sales and the second probably didn’t, but I still have no regrets about it. If just some random person apppoached me asking for a free copy, I would turn him or her down for the good reasons you gave.


      • Oh I just meant giving friends and family free copies for the sake of it. Free copies definitely have their place; beta readers, bloggers, reviewers, etc. And that’s great about your Meniere’s support group. Definitely a reason to give out copies in that case.

        Liked by 1 person

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