I'm still thinking about Bookcamp, and in particular, two conflicting messages from two different sessions. One session leader basically said, "Don't give away your product for free, or why would anyone buy it?" and another said, "Send free books to encourage good will." I'm paraphrasing, so I might not be quite accurate in what they said, but those were the messages I came away with.
Good Will also seemed to think one should spend oodles of time on the internet, chatting, making comments, etc. etc. I note, though, that he's a reviewer, not a novelist. We are, therefore, in two very different places when it comes to using one's creative energy. Yes, it takes creative energy to write reviews, but not nearly as much as writing a 400 page novel, so if it comes down to writing a blog post, twittering or commenting on blogs vs. writing my books, my books are going to win out every time. That said, I should probably make more of an effort to be more visible on other folks' blogs.
I confess I liked hearing the other chappy say "don't give your work away for free," although if I understood him correctly, he even included excerpts in that. Because here's the thing about sending free books: it's extremely expensive to do that from Canada. We don't have media mail as they do in the US.
I don't agree that we shouldn't do excerpts. It's like giving away a free taste of something at a food fair. You give folks a nibble and hope they'll want to buy the product. It's also cheap and easy to do.
No Freebies Fella also made the point, though, that we should be adding value by offering more on our websites, blogs, etc. In other words, don't give away the actual product for free, but provide additional material that will encourage people to want the product. I concur, and I've done that in a couple of ways, by adding a Library Page, listing the research books I use, and starting a new feature with my last book, THE WARLORD'S BRIDE, called "Web Extras", links to sites about places and activities used or described in the book. I intend to do it again for THE VISCOUNT'S KISS.
My conclusion: Yes to short excerpts, no to free books. I should be trying to maximize the potential of my sites, blogs, etc. by offering additional material to readers and/or other interested parties. And I should just get over my reluctance to comment on other people's blogs.