People write e-books for several reasons. One of those reasons is to make money. So why would any e-book author be willing to give their e-book away for free?

If you're planning to write an e-book, how should you decide whether to charge for it or give it away?

It really comes down to why you're writing your e-book in the first place. If your primary goal is to make money through the e-book sales, free e-books obviously aren't for you. However, if your goal is to use the e-book to market something else (your blog, website, a larger e-book, another product, or your services), or just to help build your reputation more as an expert in the niche, writing a free e-book could be a good idea. Here's why:

  1. Free e-books naturally can give you more exposure, because anyone can get their hands on a copy.
  2. If you haven't already built a reputation in your niche, people may not be willing to pay you for what you have to say yet anyway.
  3. Free e-books have a better chance of spreading virally. Most paid e-books don't grant the buyer the right to distribute the e-book to others, while free e-books often do. Using a free e-book as a viral marketing tool simply means that your e-books will get passed around via word of mouth (or the Web's equivalents).

Even if your primary goal is to make money from your e-book, don't necessarily snub free e-books. You may find that offering a free shorter version or excerpt actually promotes the sales of your primary e-book.

Have you written and distributed a free e-book in the past? Why did you do it, and how did it work out for you?

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