Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Friends and Family -- Why it's good to share

A friend of mine who is also an author recently complained about families or groups of friends buying one book and sharing it. Her point was that it cuts back on the number of sales an author makes and therefore their income. She compared it to people checking books out of the library instead of buying.

Let me respond quickly and clearly. Share my books. Please. Pass them to your uncle, your aunt, the nephew who showed up to last year’s Thanksgiving bash wearing women’s Lycra pants, flippers, and a pair of lensless ski goggles. Share them with the postman, the garbage man, the grocery store clerk, the barber. In short, pass that thing around until the cover is falling off, the pages sag like a basset hound’s ears, and no one even remembers who it actually belongs to.

Why? I know there are a bunch of author’s shouting, “But think of all the people who are reading your book for free!” That’s exactly what I am thinking about. Every person who reads my book is a prospective customer for the next book I write. They know my name. Hopefully they like my style and characters. It’s the best publicity I could ever ask for.

At least once a week, I go on-line to the local libraries and check to see if my latest release is checked out or on hold. Every time it is, I make a mental checkmark. There’s a person who’s going to be looking for my next book. Will they check it out from the library next time? Maybe. And I’m okay with that. I lived in the library as a kid. I was the only eighth-grader I know who cut school to go to the library—sometimes even the school library, which didn’t always end well. But the authors I discovered in the library back the, I buy now. Often in hardback.

Imagine that for free you could introduce 5, 000 people to your books, or 10, 000, or 100, 000. Tell me that isn’t invaluable. Every time I sell a book to someone who says they are buying it for a friend or family member, I tell them, “Borrow it back when they get done. And then pass it around.” It’s called the family library and it works.

Oh, and by the way, when you borrow or check out one of books, bend the page corners. I know the librarian may give you a look. But I love it. When I go in, I can check the places where you put the story down. It helps me understand how my pacing worked out. The only time it makes me unhappy is if you stopped reading in the last 75 pages or so. That high-intensity real estate. If I wasn’t gripping enough to keep you reading through to the end, I messed up.

Chocolate fingerprints are okay with me too.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Melanie Goldmund said...

As a reader, I love to try before I buy. I really do remember the names of authors I liked, and I look for them again. I also love going to authors' websites and reading their sample chapters. I can't afford everything, and the more free advertising, the better I can decide what I want to buy.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Jeff Savage said...

I can't agree more. With all the books that are out there, a word of mouth referral, or the chance to get someone to read my book is vital.

7:58 AM  

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