Five Ways to Get Free (Or Nearly Free) Books

There are lots of places to get free books. As voracious of a reader as I am, only a couple of these had hit my radar before I started writing my own books.

1.       Kindle Unlimited. For a small fee, you can read as many books as are listed on KU as you wish. If you are a “whale reader,” this is a good option. I read about 3-4 books a week, and would probably save myself about $20 a month if I did this.

2.       Local Library. If you have a kindle, you can download both books (and audio books) from the library, as well as just walking in and borrowing books. You can put yourself on a waiting list too.

3.       Email book lists. This was one I had no idea existed. To promote books, authors will pay money to get their book onto one of these lists on a specific day. The cost to the author ranges anywhere from $750 to $20, depending on the list. The cost to you, the reader? NOTHING to get the list, and most of the books that are on the list are either free, or just 99 cents. You can also specify the genres you are interested in and only get recommendations in those. I like Book Bub and Fussy Librarian. Book Doggy is pretty good, too. If you poke around, you can join things like “Voracious Readers,” where you pay a small fee to read free books in genres you like, and in return, you write a review in GoodReads or Amazon.

4.       Join an author newsletter. Depending on the author, you’ll get a pretty well-written missive once or twice a month, and they will often have a book fair link on it, that will in turn guide you to MORE free or nearly free books to take a look at. They are delivered via a service (I use Bookfunnel) that I PROMISE is not a scam thing. You just click on the book, and they will email you the ePub. Then you just forward that to your Amazon Kindle account (or Kobo, or whatever you have) and presto-chango, that book will appear on your electronic reading device. There are easy directions to follow the first few times until you get the hang of it. You can join mine (AND GET A FREE BOOK TOO!) by clicking here:

5.       Become an ARC reader for an author you like. ARC stands for Advance Reader Copy, which is sent out before a book is published. It is HOPED that you will write a quick review (honestly, we do not need to be a book report. Two or three sentences are perfectly acceptable, and SUPER HELPFUL.) You can find these via author websites or their newsletters.

Some of these options will ask you to fill in your email in return for the free book. This is not a bad thing, I promise. Authors just want to keep you informed of what they have going on, and often their newsletters will contain links to get even more free books. If you ever decide the author is sending you too many emails, or your vibe no longer fits their offerings, just unsubscribe. Please don’t mark the mailer as Spam, though. We get dinged by our mail providers when that happens, and the rest of the 1,687 people on the mailing list may not get deliverability. Just unsubscribe. I promise, we writers won’t take it poorly if you do. Here is a bookfair I am part of so you can practice… and with this one you can win prizes too.

Another thing—I just had this happen, and it ruined my entire day. People read an entire book, and then return it. Amazon lets them do this. It’s AWFUL to wake up to a deficit on your royalty payments. It’s one thing if you mistakenly ordered a book and want to return it. It’s a whole other really shitty thing to read the book and then (thinking ha, ha, ha, Ima gonna pull one over on the ‘Zon) return it. Amazon isn’t getting dinged. The authors are. I pay a restock fee as well as getting my $1.30 royalty, or whatever it was, taken away. I guess this whole thing started with a viral TikTok, where it was “cool” to do this, and that no one got hurt. Well, authors do. Don’t be shitty. I get being thrifty, but as I outlined above, there are lots of ways to get free books that don’t include shafting the writers. Jeez.

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