I live in Penang. If you have never visited Penang, it’s like food paradise. Delicious, cheap, “hawker” food stalls everywhere – Chinese, Indian, Malay, Thai, etc… I already lament the day I have to leave, and I have no intentions of leaving anytime soon.

Penangites are rather stingy when it comes to paying for food. We want it cheap – and delicious – and the competition is STIFF. There are countless stalls and restaurants literally everywhere – it’s truly wonderful.  But it also means that MANY restaurants fail in such a dog-eat-dog environment. (No, Malaysians don’t eat dog, in case you thought that was a pun.)

I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, and whenever one does open here, I love to analyze its marketing to see if I think it will last. To make a restaurant work, you need lots of patrons, but with such competition, you need to pull in the skeptical locals who don’t know for sure if your $7 meal is any better than the $1.50 you could pay at the road-side hawker. I always tell my wife, “If that was my new restaurant, I’d be running blow-out specials for the first month!  Tuesday’s buy-one, get-one! Friday’s 30% off! Cut/Slash! Get the people in the door, then overwhelm them with high-quality, massive portions, and great service. Have them walk away saying ‘Wow. I have got to tell my friends about this place.'”

But alas, that never happens. At least not around here. New restaurants typically underwhelm and die out when folks realize they can get better tasting food at a fraction of the cost on the street. The restaurants never get the traffic they need and the crucial word-of-mouth necessary to make a difference.

Oh, I am supposed to be writing about my novel.

Well, this is exactly how I feel about offering my novel for free. First of all, is it easy to offer my novel for free?  No. I put a lot of work into it. I reached deep inside myself and tried to offer something significant – worthy to be purchased, and I firmly believe that “Beauty Rising” is worth at least $2.99. 🙂  But that’s not the point.

The point is to get traffic. There are different ways to do this. Reviews is one way, and I’m continually looking for independent reviewers for my novel. A few have reviewed it already and many more will do so over the next few months. Reviews are a solid way to give an audience some piece of mind about purchasing a book from an unknown author.

But a review isn’t always a sure bet, and it is hard to predict how much traction will come out of one awesome review.

There is, however, no substitute for putting the book into a reader’s hand. This is in essence the purpose of offering my book for free. I believe in my work, and I believe in my future work enough to entice readers into my fictional world. If they like it, hopefully I will have them for life. They will tell their friends. They will leave reviews. They will check out my blog, looking for the next release. That’s my goal, and that’s why I’m happy to offer my novel for free.

I hope you enjoy it as much as a $1.00 plate of Malay chicken rice. For two days, it was actually cheaper than chicken rice.

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