*Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.
A few weeks ago I passed the 100K mark on views of my online library of free reads over at Scribd. While my free fiction has done well, more than 15% of the total views were for my writing how-to, The Novel Notebook, making it the most popular e-book I've posted.
I've also had a healthy number of hits on The Ten Point Plot Template, The Blank Novel Wiring Diagram, LB&LI 2007, and John & Marcia ~ The Novel Crash Test Dummies.
The numbers surprised me. Frankly I thought sites like Scribd were mainly used by readers looking for free fiction, but it seems more writers are hanging out there, too. While I know a lot of you guys are responsible for beefing up those nice numbers, I've had enough contact from other writers who didn't know me or PBW before reading something on Scribd to attribute at least half of the views to new-to-me visitors.
Scribd also provides search engine indexing info over on the sidebar of the documents; almost nine thousand hits on The Novel Notebook came from Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines. You also get a list of handy search terms that led the bots to your document, which can help you when you're making up tags.
Anyway, if you publish how-to books on writing fiction and want to expand your readership, or you have a writing how-to blog or site on line and want to increase your traffic, you might consider posting a free how-to e-book on Scribd. It doesn't have to be a huge, involved deal, either -- the short documents seem to do as well as the lengthier ones.
Another suggestion: if you decide to do a freebie how-to, use real, original examples and full-length material versus excerpts and teasers, or copying your existing blog posts into e-book form. Fresh content that has no strings attached always does better than thinly-veiled promo and cut-n-pastees.