This applies to discussions of both traditional and self-publishing. Recommended read and a couple of videos and another read and a question. Plenty of well-placed cussing, 'cuz that's Chuck Wendig's milieu. Also Harlan Ellison's. 

First, the Question: If you "write for yourself, not the world," as the t-shirt says, then why the #$&%#@!!! should the world read your writing? 

Read One:

Read Two (which also applies to $0.99 books):

Great #$&%#@!!! Big YouTube Embed of Harlan Ellison: 

A couple of my thoughts (not too deep, because I've already procrastinated enough this morning and I really should be writing.):
Your turn...[biggrin]
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Another read:
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There is a fallacy among non-artists and some artists that working for free provides exposure. This is a lie. No one else in the chain works for free.

If you're a painter, the manufacturer of the paints don't give them to you for free so the world can see how good they are.

CreateSpace does not give you a stack of free books to show the quality of their work.

There was a hoopla a few years ago where Oprah was taping her show somewhere and there was some sort of program outside the venue where musicians and other performers were invited to perform. For free. Did the guys setting up the stage work for free? The lighting guy? The sound guy? Was the venue free? So why should the performer work for free? Oh, they get exposure. Bullhockey.

For these reasons, I despise book giveaways. It has come to the point that people expect self-published books to be free because writers are so anxious to get their work in front of readers that they have fallen for the lie that giving your books away creates exposure and is a good way to build a readership. It's not.

So, I agree: pay the writer. But this begins with the writer. Demand to be paid! Don't give your books away. Discount? Sure, that's marketing. But free is not marketing.

Most books by self-published authors are sold on Amazon. They have a lovely feature called "Look Inside." You can also download a free sample of a substantial part of the book. People can get a taste for what the book is about before they buy. So, there is no reason on Earth to give you stuff away.
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mhender668 wrote:
For these reasons, I despise book giveaways.

What about ARCs and beta readers?
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Re. review copies, it's customary for reviewers to receive books for free to review. However, with the widespread corruption in the reviewing process now, we're seeing professional and amateur reviewers disclose how they came to their copy of the book (or movie tickets, etc.) In addition, it's now required by the FTC that any relationship between a reviewer and producer(s) of a work be disclosed, i.e. whether the reviewer was requested to review a work directly by the producer or came upon it by other means. This matters especially when friends online are swapping reviews. They can claim they only want "real" reviews until the cows come home, but the fact is, friends swapping reviews are not going to pan each other's stuff no matter how much it stinks, and the fact that a reviewer knows the writer from Facebook or Goodreads, etc. is legally (and morally, IMO) required information. Here's how "Michael" at the FTC put it when I asked for clarification: "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed. That connection, which we call a “material connection” doesn’t have to be a monetary payment." In other words, it's certainly not unreasonable that a review copy would be free, but it is now unreasonable, giving the level or corruption in online reviews and the new FTC marketing guidelines, for the reviewer to not tell their readers this up front. More here: And, especially in regard to this discussion, the number of review copies given out is so small (and should be carefully honed, if you and your publisher are doing your marketing homework) that it's not undermining the economic value or your own or other people's work. 

As for beta readers -- that's part of the editorial process and by definition beta reading takes places before the work is completed. In other words, you're not giving a beta reader anything of value "for free" because the book at that point doesn't fully exist. The whole point of a beta read is discovering what might need to be changed. Beta reading can be pretty painful, for all the reasons that reading unsolicited submissions (i.e. slush) can be (I am speaking from experience.) If anything, you should at least be buying your beta readers a pizza in return for their critiquing your work. (One rule I usually use is that beta readers are welcome to stop reading at any point in the work, but I request that they do let me know where they stopped reading and why. That way, people are not stuck reading something that a) stinks, or b) just isn't their cup of tea.)
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Thanks for the input. Some authors deliver finished first or second drafts to beta readers (further sophistication of manuscript afforded beta reading loses the point IMO and is illogical). What I was wondering was, do you give a beta reader everything you produced so far for that project, or just parts? Some give one part to one beta reader, another to another beta reader and so on.

As far as acts of gratitude towards beta readers, since I don't live anywhere near all of them, I usually gift them print versions of my finished books, wallpapers, bookmarks, t-shirts, bags, badges and other types of merchandise branded with some aspect of my works. Mhender says we shouldn't gift books for free, but I think beta readers are different than normal readers, as they have been involved intimately with the process, as well as influenced the direction and construction of the final product in one way or another, so I feel they can be an exception to that rule.

I do agree with him though - Permafree titles and free discounts have hurt not only the self-publishing industry (under the quasi-logical excuse of a "loss leader"), but also has made some indie and trad publishers lower the price of some of their own titles a lot more, or have discounts a lot more often just so they can compete with the growing demand of "high-quality, but bargain priced books" that this phenomenon has brought forward. And a growing number of people who won't read a book unless it's 99 cents or free.
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What I was wondering was, do you give a beta reader everything you produced so far for that project, or just parts?

In my case, it's whatever people are willing to read. 
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