One might think making a book free will net oneself as many readers as encounter said book. Not so! Below are a few ways to convince Lily not to download your free book and waste her precious time attempting to read it.
Put any of the following plot elements in your novel:
- Time travel (certain SF scenarios excepted)
- Love triangle*
- Real historical persons
- Famous fictional persons (e.g., Holmes, Darcy, King Arthur, etc.)
- Deities or their divine representatives (such as angels) as essentially human characters
- Unrealistic gaps in station in a setting where such things matter
- Patently anachronistic behavior or attitudes for no clear reason
- A do-gooder hero or heroine, or one whose attitude feels politically correct
- Any sort of secret society responsible for keeping order in secret (historical spy societies and paranormal hero councils equally despised!)**
*I don’t consider obviously false love interests to be triangles. But actual triangles are a deal-breaker.
**One of my friends is convinced I am destined to get propositioned by just such an order because I find them so insufferable in fiction.
Alternatively, you can present your story in one of these ways:
- Spell a character’s name two different ways in the description
- In fact, have any sort of typo or grammatical faux pas in your description
- Have a description longer than 300 words
- Use so many generalities in your description that I have no real notion what the conflict is
- Use so many details in your description that I have no idea what the real conflict is (or feel like I have now read your entire book)
- Fail to clarify by cover and summary when your novel is set
- Give your characters ridiculous names vis a vis their time period
- Employ gratuitous diacritical marks (especially random apostrophes!) in the names of people and places – looking at you, epic fantasy
I suppose this is also a list of deal-breakers for books NOT listed for free, as well, but the more salient point is that I don’t make exceptions to my taste just because a book is free. I make exceptions only when a book sounds truly extraordinary.