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.

On Free Books and Poison

First off, I’m thrilled to let you know that my YA dark fantasy adventure novella is featured in a wonderful collection of New Fantasy and Sci-Fi books—all of them are FREE through the end of January. Pick any/all you wish to download in any format. You can also enter to win an additional 52 books as well. You are signing up for people’s email lists when you do so, but you can unsubscribe at any time. I’ve snagged several for myself. Click here for a wonderful choice of free books:

It’s a nice validation, and I’m thrilled. Writing is by definition a solitary act unless you’re in the writer’s room on a television show. Other than that, it’s just you, yourself, and you. I don’t know about your brain, but mine has a few dark corners and downright bad neighborhoods. It’s not good to walk them alone… you may have encountered this on nights when you can’t sleep. It’s worse when you’re awake and on your third cup of coffee and you know what you want to say but are utterly unable to put a sentence together that isn’t utter shite. That’s when my inner mean girl pops out with a bludgeon and her judge-y voice. I have to take that voice and shove it… back down.

Have I mentioned I love writing?

Most of the time.

My current series takes place in 15th century medieval Europe. For a handy reference, that’s about 100 years after the black plague decimated the population. King Edward the IV had scandalized everyone by marrying a commoner. That nasty old murderer Richard the III reigned in this time frame, too. It’s an in-between sort of space where really anything could happen as civilization clawed its way towards the Renaissance. My books will head towards Constantinople and Damascus and the Spice Islands in the series soon, but for now, I’ve been learning about the Black Forest area of Germany (Grimm’s Fairy Tales land) and the port city of Marseille.

I’ve also been researching the foods people ate, what they drank, and a myriad of ways to kill people using poison. Yeah. Don’t cross me. Kidding. I wonder what the FBI would make of my look-up history. There should be a disclaimer for writers. I can only guess what the google history of folks who write apocalyptic fiction looks like. Or people who write murder mysteries, cozy or otherwise. You really have to watch out for them.

From my research, there are two things I’d like to share with you. The first is that in Europe at that time they didn’t have potatoes. Can you imagine? The dark ages would have been much easier to endure with potatoes on the menu. Of course, I learned this fact after my first book was mostly finished and had to go back and remove all the instances I’d mentioned potatoes being eaten or stored. I subbed in turnips instead, but you and I both know that turnips are a poor substitute for a nice carb-heavy potato.

In researching the best way to kill people using agrarian methods, I’ve come to understand that it’s remarkable that any of our great-great-great etc. grandparents lived to sire progeny at all. There were just so many things back then that could kill you aside from the usual pestilence, war, or wild animal.

Rhubarb (I’ve talked about this in a former post about Rhubarb Pie), and a lot of mushrooms, especially the red and white ones that look like fairies should sit on them are tops in “natural” poisons. Oleander (there are several horror stories of scouts using the sticks to cook hotdogs over fires and the whole lot of them dying, but I don’t know if those were true or just cautionary), Water Hemlock, Belladonna/Nightshade, Yew trees, Foxglove, Castor beans, Rhododendron, Jimson Weed, Rosary Pea, Lily of the Valley… I could go on. My favorite deadly plant that I couldn’t use in my stories is a tree that grows in tropical places like Florida called the Manchineel. That one is so bad it’s called the Tree of Death. Every bit is poisonous. You can’t even stand under them when it’s raining, as the dripping water can transfer toxins onto your skin, causing it to bubble and blister. Helpful locals will paint a bright red band around it warning you off… unless, of course, they want to kill you.

On the flip side, I’ve learned a few tasty recipes for alcoholic beverages, as no one really trusted the water in the cities, and rightly so, as the water system was also the sewage system. Ale and beer were their equivalent of Gatorade. Mead was popular with anyone who kept bees. It’s fermented honey, high in alcohol and sweet. You can try that one at a Ren Fair.

Mulsum is spiced honey wine and sounds absolutely delicious. It’s considered to be the oldest alcoholic drink in the world. I know it’s January, and we’ve all given up such things for at least three more weeks, but here’s a recipe for it from the website of

3 cups lukewarm water

1 cup red wine (you can sub in non-alcoholic wine if you’re off booze)

1 cinnamon sitck

1 whole nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

4 Tbsp honey

Slice of orange or lemon in each glass.

Put everything together, mix it up, and put in the fridge for a day. Reheat it if it’s wintertime, don’t if it’s hot out. Remove the spices and serve. This recipe makes four servings, or one if you’re in despair.