free e-bookWe’ve been writing quite a bit lately about book publicity tactics, which is probably why a recent tweet about a Pan Macmillan promo caught my eye this morning.

The promotion couldn’t be easier: You post a pre-written tweet about a new Richard House series called The Kills, and then the first book of the series (there will eventually be four, and the first is titled Sutler) is automatically downloaded onto your computer, tablet or smartphone. (I just gave the promo a test run myself, and was surprised when I was offered my choice of a Mobi or EPUB file.)

The Kills, as the book’s website explains, “is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books.” And as Pan Macmillan says of the promo in the website’s FAQ section, “we think you’ll like [Sutler] so much that you’ll want to read the rest. The following ebook, The Massive, is out in March.”

free e-book
Richard House

As far as book promotions go, this is the sort of simple effort I’m surprised we don’t see more of. Because assuming the book being promoted is actually something people will want to read, hacking through the clutter is really a book’s greatest hurdle in 2013.

As for The Kills, I can nearly assure you that this is not a book I would have discovered any other way on my own; I almost certainly wouldn’t have purchased it, even though it’s selling for just £1.99. (An enhanced edition of the book, complete with audio and video, is also selling for £1.99) But if I do end up reading book one—and I’m sure I’ll at least give it a shot—I’ll probably also pick up the next installment. Wisely, Pan Macmillan has made that decision easy for me as well: In exchange for my email address, they’ll send me a discount code for book two, The Massive.

Click here to grab your own free copy.


  1. Now here’s a thing. We just read today, the post about devaluing books on your blog –

    If a company asks to pay for something as valuable as a book with just a tweet, they might be getting the necessary advertisement but they’re definitely loosing out in value. Twitter is a great platform for advertisement and when a certain topic reaches enough tweets, it gets pushed out to a lot of people and it’s reach explodes.

    But at the same time, what is a tweet? A tweet is a very marginal thing. It’s fleeting, ephemeral, if you must and so a tweet in itself is really of no value because it’ll soon be forgotten.

    The only thing such schemes bring are a loss of the total value of the product because people get interested in the topic for about a minute before something else comes up. I know that getting noticed is one of the biggest issues for books nowadays in a world where everyone is a publisher, but this scheme will only get tweeted a couple thousand times, a few hundred will actually look at the book twice and only a score or two will actually recommend this to others instead of just the automated post.

    Such is the value of a tweet.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Nitin—they’re points well-taken. I do want to be perfectly clear about one thing though: I may have read something into your comment that wasn’t actually there, but it seemed as if you were implying that we’d maybe contradicted ourselves by running this post on the same day we ran a post about the devaluation of books.

    Again, that’s a point well-taken; you’re clearly a very closer reader of the site, and that’s flattering. But it’s worth keeping in mind that everyone who writes for the site has their own opinions about any number of topics; sometimes we agree with each, and sometimes we don’t. In other words, an opinion piece by any one of us if just that: an opinion. And none of our opinions should be construed to represent the site as a whole. (Even though quite often, they do.)

    Again, thanks for reading—and thanks also for sharing your own opinions.

  3. Dan,

    I was not pointing to any contradiction but the irony of it. I looked at the author names clearly before I wrote my comments and I do not expect a big blog such as yours to have a completely streamlined view of things. In fact, I demand diversity of thought because that’s what makes us all original.

    My point was simply that there is a great question about devaluation of books on one end and right then I spot another piece that, in fact, points to a new way that we and the publishers are degrading books. That was pure coincidence.

    And yes, I often ignore my reading, but yours is the more cherished of blogs in my Fever RSS Reader.

  4. Hey Nitin, thanks very much for the reply; I appreciate it. You make a really interesting point, and the more I think about it, the more curious I am to hear other readers’ points of view. So … what does everyone else think? Is a social media promotion really a tacky enough tactic that it can ‘cheapen’ a book, so to speak? Or, perhaps more to Nitin’s point (as well as the point Juli Monroe made in her post), have all these free (or $0.99) e-books really succeeded in turning literature into something more ephemeral than it was in the pre-Internet world?

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