Journeying Into The Dark World of Permafree

I did it.  I put up two of my short stories (one each from Quirky Quickies Volumes 1 and 2) as permafree.  I don’t know why it scared me so much to do it.

Well, maybe because a close read of Amazon’s Terms of Service says that it’s not technically allowed to have a book priced lower than you have it priced at Amazon and no matter how many people have jumped off this cliff before me it still worries that regulatory side of my mind that says “everyone else was doing it” is really no excuse for violating contract terms.

Oh, and that the consequences should Amazon choose to be jerks about it is they shut down your account and keep all your money.

Maybe that’s it.

Of course, Amazon was very gracious about setting the books to free for me.  I gave it a day or two and when they weren’t yet showing as free I e-mailed Amazon customer service and asked why they hadn’t price matched the books yet.  They had them matched to free by the time I woke up this morning.  So, yay?

I’ve heard a lot of things about permafree.  Depending on who you talk to it made all the difference in the world and drove people to all their other works.  Or it’s such an overused tactic at this point in time that it’s like screaming into the void.

We shall see.  Looks like I already have four downloads on Amazon.  I’ve heard sellthrough on freebies is somewhere in the 1-2% range, although higher for non-promoed freebies.  Maybe 10%?

The first story I put up for free is The Darwin Act about a near future where medical technology has advanced to the point that almost any traumatic injury can be healed and it becomes apparent that certain people account for the majority of the medical costs because they continually do stupid shit.  So, they pass a law making it illegal to help these “Darwin Targets”.  Turns out it’s easy to pass a law, hard to follow it.

It’s meant to be humorous in a twisted sort of way.  Dave Higgins did a great review of it that’s far more eloquent than I can ever be.  (And I think he has a few new permafrees as well, so check those out while you’re over there.)

The second one is Looking For Love (Or At Least a Decent Dinner Date) about one woman’s experience with online dating.  Also meant to be a humorous story, this one deals with truthfulness in online dating profiles and the apparent dearth of good matches out there.

They’re odd.  But then again, so am I.

(Oh, and you’ll note that I punted on the covers.  I just couldn’t for the life of me think of good images to put on there without hiring some artist to draw something.  One of the things I’ve learned in all this self-publishing is that if I can’t write a good blurb for a story or come up with a good cover image chances are I’m going to have a hard time selling it.)

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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2 Responses to Journeying Into The Dark World of Permafree

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    There is an interesting legal argument that offering something for free is a gift rather than an invitation to treat, so free isn’t a price.

    Not an argument I would rely on if Amazon got annoyed, but interesting from a pure law perspective.

    • M. H. Lee says:

      I like the way you think…I also think there’s something to be said for the fact that they have special categories for it on the dashboard and will change it when asked…Still. If they decide no one can do it anymore, none of us will be able to do a thing about it.

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