I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There are a ton of free books out there! So if you love a deal or just can’t wait to get until your library holds come in, this list is for you.
- Bookbub and Book-bub wannabes
There are a ton of websites out there that specialize in delivering free or reduced priced e-books right to your inbox. Readers love it, because they can pick up great books for cheap or free, and authors love it because they get new readers for their discount books or later books in their series (if they are giving away a first book for free). Bookbub is the biggest player in the market, but there are a ton of other options, too!
Netgalley is a website that allows you to sign up for Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of upcoming releases, in exchange for providing a review of the book. Pretty much every major and minor publisher uses this site to distribute their ARCs. You ask publishers to provide you an ARC, and the publisher can accept or reject your request. This website is tailored for professional reviewers down to hobby bloggers, but publishers will be more likely to send you an ARC if you have some sort of website. But, saying you’ll post your review on Goodreads and Amazon is likely good enough for some publishers!
3. Library Thing
If Goodreads and Netgalley had a baby, it would be this website. This site allows you to post reviews and share book recommendations, but also has two features that give away books: the Early Reviewers option and Member Giveaways. The Early Reviewers option is like Netgalley in that authors and publishers give away ARCs in exchange for a review, while the Member Giveaway feature is just authors giving away copies. Both are pretty easy to get books through, even if you don’t have a blog or website.
4. Shelf Awareness & Publisher’s Weekly
Shelf Awareness & Publisher’s Weekly are both publishing industry publications that have email newsletters. If you sign up for both (select the pro version of Shelf Awareness), you end up with a fair amount of information about the industry in your inbox (which I happen to find interesting), but also opportunities to request or enter to win ARC copies of new books. These are the real deal, paperbacks delivered right to your mailbox! I enjoy getting free physical books more than ebooks, so when one of these arrives, it is extra exciting.
Goodreads provides authors with an easy way to give away print or e-copies of their books. When you give away a copy, people add your book to their “To Be Read” stack, so these giveaways help authors gain visibility. If you have a book in your To Be Read stack, you will get email updates about a new giveaway for that book. Or, you can peruse the giveaway section of the website to find books that look interesting to you!
Goodreads also has groups where you can sign up to beta read, or get free copies of books in exchange for reviews. Authors post blurbs of their stories and you can offer to read the ones that seem interesting to you! You can ever get audiobooks for free in these group sometimes!
6. Author Email Lists
Authors these days, especially self-published authors, are connecting with readers through their e-mail lists. Email lists are a great way for authors to give you up to date info about new releases, but they are constantly wanting to share fresh and relevant content with readers to keep them engaged. By signing up for the email list of your favorite authors, you will gain the inside scoop for new releases, which often includes an opportunity to beta read for the author or read ARC copies. Authors will also share when their books go on sale, when they have a giveaway, or when their authors friends are having discounts or giveaways.
Wattpad is a social networking site that allows people to post and read stories and books for free. There are a lot of amateur writers getting their feet wet on Wattpad (which is great!) but there are also a lot of professional writers who share their stories on the site to connect with new readers. Wattpad allows you to read chapter by chapter in your browser or on your phone, and then like or comment on each chapter. You can interact directly with the author, which is pretty cool. With 45 million members, there are more stories and books on this site than you will EVER have time for.
So there you have it. More free books than you will ever have time to read! Two caveats. If you get a book for free in exchange for a review…write the review. It should absolutely be an honest review, and if you hated the book and quit 20 pages in, write that review too. We call those Do Not Finish (DNF) reviews, and that’s ok. Try to be objective (and not cruel) in explaining why the book wasn’t for you…if it might be in someone else’s wheelhouse though, say that!
Lastly, free books are great. Everyone loves a deal, and it gets people introduced to new authors all the time. But authors work really, really hard to write those books. And the average e-book costs $2-5. That’s less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and I know you don’t think twice about indulging in one of those every once and a while (or every day). So if you loved that first book in the series, buy the next one!