Saturday, November 27, 2010

Support—It Comes in Different Forms

april fools 2010 020aThe writing life is a tough one for many reasons…and it doesn’t help that friends and family don’t completely get what we’re doing.

But still, most of us get some support from the people around us.  We might have a first reader among our friends and family. 

We might have a spouse who gives us the time and space to stare out the window and write for a while.

And then, when our books come out, we have friends who are excited for us and rush out to buy our books.


Last week, I tweeted a post by mystery publisher Agatho (he’s anonymous) entitled For God’s Sake, Buy Your Friends’ Books.  It was one of the most retweeted tweets that I made. 

I got many direct messages from writers on Twitter saying that all of their family and friends expected them to provide them with a free copy.

This is, actually, pretty shocking to me.  I usually have one person who might angle for a free copy, but everyone else I know is at the bookstore soon after release day—supporting me.  My latest release was $6.99 at full retail…but even if it had been a lot more, they’d be trying to help me out. 

Because we wrote a book.  It took us many hours of relative isolation, writing and rewriting, and work to get that book in a bookstore.

As Agatho put it:

Please tell me why you choose to ignore this remarkable accomplishment by a family member or someone you call a "friend."  This person has labored, most likely for years, not only in writing a manuscript, but also in jumping through an endless series of hoops to get an agent and/or publisher. S/he has then had to exercise the utmost patience in rewriting several times to please an editor. Then, of course, comes the proofreading, which is even more work.  At the end of the process, s/he holds an extremely affordable, compact, 300-page book that is the culmination of years of hard work and determination.  And you - who will spend $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, drop $100 for dinner for two at a trendy restaurant, or waste your money on cheap plastic crap at Walmart - cannot find it in your heart to buy a copy of this book?

Truthfully, though, some of the responsibility for this problem goes to the writer—who is giving these friends or family members free copies of the book. 

I know it’s tough because writers can be reticent and don’t want to address the problem—it’s easier to just hand out the freebies.

But honestly, this is the best response (and it’s true…this is what we’re supposed to be doing with our author copies): “I’m sorry, but all of my author copies are spoken for. My publisher specifically requested that I send them to book bloggers and other reviewers to drive up sales.  But I see that my book is available at ____________ for just  $_____.  I hope you’ll pick up a copy because I really think you’ll enjoy it.”

We can’t force them to buy our book…but we can educate them about the purpose of author copies.

Have you got good support on your book launch days?