Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

How to Feed Your Book Addiction (for Free!)

As bookworms, we have a nearly uncontrollable urge to devour stories. Without a book in our hands or our bags, we feel alone, lost. If you hit the bookstore often (which I highly recommend), the habit can get a bit expensive. And if you’re like me (supporting a husband through graduate school), you don’t always have the extra cash to splurge on books. Well, luckily for all of us, there are lots of great ways to read new books for free.

Here are just a few:

The Kansas City, MO Public Library
The Kansas City Public Library

Your local library

Yes, these still exist. I’ve been using mine ever since we moved to New Haven, and I forgot just how freeing it can be.

Email book blasts

There are tons of email lists you can sign up for that will send you a daily/weekly list of free (or discounted) books customized to your tastes. (Authors: these are also a great way to advertise.) The biggest is BookBub, but there is also FreeBooksy, The Fussy Librarian, and several more.

Online retailers

It may take a long time to search through the sites and find an interesting title, but it can be done. Many independent authors offer a free book (especially the first in the series) to introduce you to their body of work.

Offer book reviews

Books live and die by reader reviews, and often, authors will provide free copies to readers in exchange for a review. While it’s not polite to just go around asking authors for free books, they’ll usually advertise when they would like to give them out on their website, social media, or email newsletters. And, if you review books regularly on Goodreads or a blog, the authors may even come to you!

Another great way to get free books to review is NetGalley. This is also one of your only opportunities to get free traditionally published books. It’s totally free to sign up as a reviewer, and you can download anything that looks exciting to you.

Contests

Speaking of Goodreads, it allows authors to host paperback giveaways. Also, Amazon has recently introduced ebook giveaways (find them by searching #AmazonGiveaway on Twitter), and independent authors often give books away in conjunction with blog tours or new releases. There are plenty of others to be found in various corners of the internet, too.

readingAuthor email newsletters

If you enjoy an author’s work (or think you will), find out whether or not they have an author newsletter or reader list. If so, there’s a decent chance that they offer a free book for signing up or the opportunity to receive an advance review copy of unpublished works.

Participate in a book exchange

Find a group of friends or other readers who are willing to do a book trade. This way, you can make room on your bookshelves and introduce your favorite books to someone new.

How NOT to get free books? Illegal downloads or other forms of copyright infringement. Sure, big publishers and established authors may not “feel” the effects of pirating, but we up-and-coming authors need every sale we can get (for things like sales rank and exposure, not just money to write more books). Your $0.99, $2.99, or even $14.95 goes a LONG way.

How to “pay” an author for a free book

If you enjoy one of your free books, there are a few ways you can “pay” the author that are incredibly valuable.

  • Leave them a glowing review on Goodreads and/or online retailers.
  • Share their work through social media or old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
  • Send them an email or shout out on social media.
  • Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media.
  • And, of course, keep them in mind next time you have room in your book budget!

I hope this helps you keep your inner bookworm and your wallet satisfied. Happy reading!

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

My Reading Habits: A Questionnaire

A few days ago, Charles French and Zach Chopchinski nominated me to share my reading habits via a reading habits questionnaire. I must say, the book nerd in me had a lot of fun geeking out over these questions and pondering some of the scenarios. I’m not going to nominate anyone in specific for this challenge — so if it seems like a fun post for you, go ahead and consider yourself nominated! Okay, here are my answers: 20150620_150428

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

Right now, I am only reading books from my book review queue and those that are important for my author-entrepreneur business. Therefore, I would read whatever is next chronologically on those lists. Now, once my book review list has dissipated, I will go back to my old method of staring at my bookshelf and pulling at my hair until my eyes land on a book that I know I must read right now.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

I’m an all or nothing type of person. I rarely ever quit a book halfway through. Honestly, the book would have to be highly offensive to me (in a moral sense) for me to stop reading. I’m a big believer in sticking through books outside of my comfort zone and/or that are poorly written for the lessons they can bring me as a writer.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your GoodReads challenge. Do you quit or commit?

Again, I would try to commit. Or, in my continual efforts to tame my inner-perfectionist, I would probably lower my goal and reprimand myself for being too optimistic. As long as I used the time I could have been reading to do something even more important (ie: writing), then I am okay with a reduced reading goal.

The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope?

I would survive, but it would annoy me. One of my favorite aspects of series is a cohesive theme and style throughout the book covers. I do not care if the covers are “bad” or not, but I think it is important from a branding and aesthetic perspective to keep covers consistent. If they re-released old books with the new covers, I would seriously consider selling my copies and re-buying them with the matching covers.

Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Usually my friend, Jess, and I are together on these issues. We tend to have similar tastes when it comes to the “blockbuster” books. However, I can always vent to my husband, even if he does not share my opinion.

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

This depends on where I am. If I’m in an airport, I will just cry my heart out. After being in a long distance relationship (and thus having many a joyful reunion and sorrowful parting in airports), I literally have no shame in airports any more. No. Shame. As for work, a library, or confined space (like a bus), I would probably close the book and wait until I got home to read through the weepy part.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on GoodReads? Cry in frustration?

Typically, if I love a book, I will remember it pretty well — even over time. However, if I do forget a lot about the book, I will go and skim through the first one, perhaps reading the last chapter or two to recapture the emotions I felt during the book’s conclusion so I can carry them into book two more clearly.

20150620_150313You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask?

“I’m sorry, but I don’t lend my books out anymore. I have had too many books go walkabout when borrowed, and I’m tired of having to replace them.”

You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over the reading slump?

When I’m in a reading slump, the best thing for me is to find a short book that I can blaze through in a few quick sittings. This gets me back in the groove of reading and whets my appetite for longer tomes.

There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Other than independent books, I prefer to buy all of my books secondhand to save money. Therefore, if they are traditionally-published, I would probably buy zero and (im)patiently wait a few months until I could find them for next-to-nothing. As for independent books, I would buy them relatively soon, but I would spread out the expenses over a few weeks so it did not hurt my wallet as badly.

After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them?

I am terrible at buying books and then waiting forever to read them. I guarantee there are classics that I bought in high school that are still sitting on my bookshelf unread. If the book is written by a friend or an author I really like, I will probably get to it in a month or two. If anything else, it will probably sit on my shelf for at least six months (if not years) as I slowly read my way through the books that got there first (again, by months or years).

And those are my reading habits! Again, if you’d like to answer, feel free to do so in your own post or in the comments. Side note: the banner and images in this post are snapshots of my actual bookshelves — feel free to evaluate my reading tastes as you will.