Why I Publish Free + Paid Versions Of (Some) Of My Stories
I give away my work for free.
It's something that a lot of people look down on... at least, the way I do it.
Many authors, especially self-published or indie ones like myself, will offer all sorts of free stuff. When you sign up for my mailing list, you can get multiple free short stories - just like many authors offer.
Or if you join my review crew, you have a chance to get free or advanced copies of upcoming work in exchange for a review - just like many authors offer.
But what I'm talking about is my stories on Literotica.
Because yes, you can find almost all the stories I have published as ebooks or paperbacks at the time of this writing for free on Literotica - or in the case of stories like Finding Home and my upcoming release Get Over It, they were formerly available for free but have since been removed.
There are a few reasons I've chosen to publish my work this way, so if you're wondering why you should (or shouldn't!) pay for one of my books, here's why I do it and what the differences are between the versions.
First things first: I don't suggest every author try this.
I started publishing on Literotica before the idea of being a full time writer was even a hint of a dream. I had two years of an established following on Literotica before I took the leap to writing professionally, and I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I can take that risk and still afford to give away some of my work.
I've seen some writers suggest publishing previews or excerpts on Lit and then publishing the rest as a book... and that won't work. When I publish on Literotica, it's full stories. There may be follow up stories in a universe, such as Finding Home (the sequel to Runaway) but I wouldn't post the first five chapters of something and then direct people to buy the rest. Many readers on Literotica are not going to go to another website just to purchase the rest of a story. And personally, I think that's a bad practice.
One, the team at Lit doesn't like that, and for good reason. It's not a marketing platform.
Two, I'm not interested in tricking people into buying something. I want my readers to enjoy my work, not feel like they've been forced into purchasing something they were promised for free. If someone wants to support my work and find more of it, that's great. If not, I still want them to enjoy the story.
Different readers have different preferences.
I want my stories to be accessible to as many people as possible.
Go to any group of readers on Facebook and ask if it's worth buying a Kindle, and you will get every answer from "I can't live without it" to "It's a total waste of money."
That's because different people enjoy books in different ways. Everyone has a preference: hardback vs paperback. Printed vs ebook. Kindle vs iPhone.
When you read for free on Literotica, you are reading in a browser. There aren't as many options for saving your place. But there is also a huge community of other readers, the ability to provide feedback, and the price really can't be beat.
But a lot of people prefer reading ebooks or physical books, too. Owning a copy of a book means it's not going to disappear (like I accidentally did to a few people who were reading Finding Home when it was removed from Literotica... oops!). It allows you to mark your place and come back. And for some people, reading excessively on a phone, computer, or tablet is harder on their eyes, so ereaders and physical copies allow them to read more.
If you prefer reading on Literotica because it's free... please do! The stories are there for a reason. And if you prefer an ebook or paperback, a selection of my works are currently available in those formats.
The ebook and paperback versions are more polished.
Runaway is a perfect example of this.
You can read the story free as it was originally posted on Literotica. When I first wrote it, I had just started a new job. I was earlier on in my writing career. I was developing my skills and writing as a hobby.
Now that I write full time, my style is different. I have more time to dedicate to writing, editing, and polishing. And as many authors will tell you, a book is never really "done." You always find something you'd do differently now, or notice the typo on the first page, fourth paragraph (ugh...), or wish you'd developed a character a bit more.
Two years after it was originally posted, I re-edited and revamped parts of Runaway. In the ebook and paperback versions, the story has been cleaned up a bit (superfluous words removed, a few grammar corrections, etc.). But I've also developed things better - Sean's character, for example, has much more significant development than he did in the original version. Some of the arguments and dialogue has been updated to be more natural.
These are things I wasn't capable of with my skill level when I first wrote the story. I'm still proud of the original version, but the polished version is more of a testament to where I am as an author now.
I "get paid" in a different way on Literotica.
Not in the money way, unless I win a contest (and because I'm Canadian, I have to take my winnings as an Amazon gift card).
But the community on Literotica is invaluable. The feedback is invaluable. The connections I've made are so helpful to me as a writer that walking away from the site isn't something I want to do. This helps me develop my skills as a writer.
Publishing on Literotica also gives me a chance to reach readers I wouldn't otherwise reach. It brings my work to different demographics and allows me the opportunity to actually connect with those readers.
And when it comes to support, books aren't for everyone (I know some of you just gasped - stick with me here!). Some readers don't want a copy of the book or story, but still enjoy reading and may even want to tip or join my Patreon instead of purchasing a copy of a book they won't read. I want to provide stories for them, too. If I'm only selling ebooks, I'm missing out on connecting with those readers.
Most importantly, supporting my work isn't just about buying books or spending money. Hearing what people enjoy or what they don't is a huge help to me. Knowing when someone liked a story or connected with a character helps give me motivation to keep creating. Sharing things on social media is huge. There is a lot to be said for cheerleaders - writing is a very emotional thing and sharing that piece of yourself can be difficult.
This is my job.
Not everything I write will be available for free.
My upcoming book Get Over It is a rewrite of one of my first stories I posted on Literotica. The original story was about 46K words.
The rewritten version? 96K.
I can't just give that away. Months of work have gone into that story. I wish I could just write and give my writing away to whoever wanted to read it, but doing this full time means that at least some of my work needs to be monetized. Trust me, if I could fix capitalism and just give all my stories away for free, I would... but my dog needs food, and so do I.
There will still be opportunities for people to get free or inexpensive access to this story - joining my Patreon is one of them, where I'm currently posting sections of the story as I'm editing it. I'll also have special deals for my newsletter subscribers and I'll be sharing ARCs and Review Crew copies as well.
So... be sure you click that handy button below so you get access to the free books, new story notifications, and other perks!
Cheryl Terra began writing because she's greedy. She wanted to see stories that combined all her favourite things: love, drama, sex, comedy, and the empowering values she shares, plus a little Canadian pride for good measure. One of the things she is most proud of with her writing is hearing about people who enjoy the recurring themes she includes, such as the sexiness of consent, discussions of birth control, and the natural inclusion of diversity in her stories.
Get more information at cherylterra.com