However you feel about e-books, I think they can be great marketing tools for writers. I discovered that writing and self-publishing original stories, novellas and novels on my old web site was an effective way to give something back to my loyal readers. It also allowed the curious but unconvinced to sample my work without having to plunk down $6.99 or $22.95 upfront.
I haven't put together a freebie e-book in a couple of years, and tinkering and reformatting all the old ones has me itching to write another. Since Night Lost won't be hitting the shelves until May '07, I've decided to write a Darkyn novella and give it away as a free e-book here at the weblog on Halloween this year.
I'm also challenging all you writers out there to do the same: write and publish a new short story, novellette, novella, or novel of your own in e-book form* and post it for download on your weblog, web site, or any host site on October 31, 2006. I'm using Adobe .pdf format because that's what I've always used. You're free to use alternate formats, but I'd go with something that allows everyone to read it. Your e-book can also be any length and any genre; the only requirement is that you provide free access to it (it doesn't have to be a permanent addition to your weblog; if you have file storage issues I suggest leaving it up for a week or two.)
What you get in return: When Halloween arrives I will post a list of links here on PBW to the e-books of everyone who completes the challenge. I will also pick twenty e-books at random from all those who participate in the challenge and give the authors a private critique of their work via e-mail (so if you ever wanted me to read something of yours, this would be a definite shot.)
Some things to help you make your e-book:
My post on .pdf maker services free online or for free download (with great suggestions in the comments section, too.)
No way to read .pdf files? Download the latest version of Adobe Reader.
Make Your Own Art ten list.
The Romance Novel Cover Art Generator.
The best collection of story, art, blog, and other fun generators on the internet, The Generator Blog.
*Added: If it's easier to put your challenge story as a post on your weblog or web site versus making an e-book for download, that's fine (it's still a form of e-publishing, which is the whole point of the challenge.)