You know, sometimes just when it seems like everything that could go wrong, does, and things just seem to be going all haywire, I have come to expect I will encounter something of exquisite beauty or someone who is doing something wonderful. Monday, while experiencing the former, I encountered the latter in an e-newsletter from Smashwords.
A guy named Ed Patterson came up with an idea for providing free books to troops deployed overseas. He figured out how to do it, and launched the project. Currently there are a couple of hundred authors who have offered e-books to the troops. I didn't count exactly the number of troops who have requested coupons, but there were several dozen. I'd expect both numbers to increase.
It is the perfect "win-win" situation.
The troops opt in to receive coupons by email, directly from the authors. The authors then have the opportunity to reach out directly to the soldiers, offering greetings, thanks and a gift of a story, for free. Personal greetings from "home" and sharing stories -- a Cyber version of Canterbury Tales, perhaps? Some of the stories may not be great. Some may be future best-sellers. Doesn't matter: they're stories offered by people from "home" to say "we care about you." That's good for the soldiers.
It's also a perfect marketing tool for the authors. If the soldiers like the free book, they might recommend friends and relatives to buy a hard copy. Or, they might offer comments or critiques that would allow the author to improve our writing. Within 24 hours of sending out my first email, I have "dropped" seven books. In the previous month since I first published my two books on Smashwords, I'd sold one copy.
In any case, if you're a writer with a story that has either been published or is ready to publish, consider signing up. If you know any active duty military personnel or have friends with family members deployed overseas, send them the link.
Smashwords: Smashwords Supports Operation Ebook Drop