August 12, 2010
The Path of Dreams just passed 3000 downloads at Smashwords. In second place on my list is Kate's A Man of Few Words at 785. Of course, they're both free downloads, so that doesn't necessarily mean 3785 readers.
(Though if you'd like to fork out a couple of bucks for much better-formatted Kindle versions, go here and here.)
"Free" in the Internet age must factor into the equation an effective sunk cost of zero and an opportunity cost measured in terms a personal time and attention, which will be something greater than zero all the way up to infinity.
As writers like Joe Konrath have shown, when a convenient-enough delivery method is devised (such as the Kindle), the optimal opportunity cost of a "free" download for a genre novel prices out between one and three dollars.
In other words, many people will happily pay a nominal fee to have somebody else deliver "free" to them hassle-free. (I could change my own oil too, but the thought alone makes me tired.)
Alas, the realities of Pareto distributions and the tautologies of marketing still hold: we will only pay for what we are willing to pay for. Figuring out what that is remains the (self-employed) artist's eternal challenge.
"Free" doesn't pay the rent, so I'm still working on it.