For those indie authors looking to do a small service to help out some of our troops in harm's way, there's a way to send our servicemen free eBooks through Operation eBook Drop. This program was founded by an author and veteran, Edward Patterson, and Mark Coker of Smashwords helps out as well. The way it works is you issue a free coupon on your Smashwords account for your latest masterpiece, and then you send the coupon and link to your self-published eBook to a mailing list of military members and family members that Edward Patterson has compiled.Write to Ed to gain access to the mailing list, and there's about 180 addresses on the distribution with plenty of room for more. If you use Gmail, you can BCC up to 500 contacts, so you don't need anything fancy to email this many people on one shot.
This is a great program, because I was in Iraq for a year in the bygone days of 2007-2008, when eBooks were virtually unheard of. Being a Green Zone fobbit, the Groundhog Day phenomenon, where every day is exactly the same, began setting in about month 2 (with 10 months left to go). Lucky for me I was able to order print books from Amazon, but some of our troops living on combat outposts might not have that luxury. Therefore, an eReader stocked with eBooks is a great thing to bring to war to stave off boredom and the mid-deployment blues. With no alcohol, serious restrictions on co-mingling with the opposite sex, and having to work 14-hour days, reading is a great activity for active duty personnel to keep sane (at least I felt so, and YMMV).
A big concern is that internet connections in war zones can be atrocious, despite the US government shelling out millions to contractors to provide this service for the troops. I'm not sure if speeds have improved in the last 4 years, but when I was in Iraq, it was virtually impossible to download anything over 1MB. Therefore, you may want to consider not sending that 8MB eBook full of high-res pictures.
|Hit or Miss Internet Connection (me in Iraq - 2007)|
So, head on over to the Operation eBook Drop website and write to Ed for the email list. It's an easy thing to do. Hopefully, some of the big publishing houses will consider providing a similar service to our troops.