One of the unanticipated benefits of publishing my books has been getting involved in the indie author community. It’s an awesome community with a lot of talented people whose heads are screwed on straight.
A few days ago, I was contacted via my friends at Backword Books, a collection of independent authors. They wanted me and the other Backword authors to know about an effort launched on the Kindle Boards by author Ed Patterson. It seems Patterson, a former military man himself, had been contacted by soldiers with Kindles — in fact, he learned that soldiers increasingly rely on Kindles for reading during their time away from home. Whispernet won’t work for them, so they sync files from their computers.
Patterson’s idea? Let’s get these soldiers some free ebooks!
It started slowly — Patterson would email us with the names and emails of soldiers who wanted Kindle books, and we would email ebook files to the soldiers. It started with a half-dozen authors, and it was focused on the Kindle.
Then it quickly grew in size and sophistication. First, it became clear that more soldiers could participate if we went beyond the Kindle. Then, Smashwords, a great ebook site that allows authors to download coupons became the focus of a more automated approach. Set it up correctly, and you can create a coupon that makes your book free to selected readers.
Now, after only a few days, 35 authors are involved. The flow of ebooks to soldiers is increasing — Patterson estimates that 700 e-books have been delivered in less than a week.
Best of all, the soldiers are grateful:
- From Japan, a Captain wrote to me: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate this wonderful gift.”
- From the Mom of a soldier about to deploy: “I’m in the process of getting his Kindle ready for him. This means so much to both of us to know that so many people care.”
- From Iraq, a Sergeant First Class wrote to me: “Just wanted to personally thank you for supporting us out here in Iraq. I am the medic for a 10 man transition team that is training and advising the Iraqi Army. We are just south of Baghdad and still have 9 long months out here. I love to read on my Kindle, so again thanks for all your support and look forward to reading your stories.”
The idea is spreading and getting more structured support already, only after a few days since it kicked off. In addition to coverage in the blogosphere, the CEO of Smashwords has signaled his support, and is devising ways to make it easier for soldiers to get ebooks through Smashwords.
It’s one for the books. E-books, that is.