With the birth of a child, the proud father often hands out cigars to commemorate the occasion. When an author’s new book is launched there are similar rites of passage. With my fourth book “Sense of Direction” debuting this month, I am struggling with the pressures of giving out free copies of my newest baby.
It might be better to express these gifts as “complimentary promotional materials.” But let me be clear. We are talking about giving out free copies! Freebies, if you will!
Over the years I’m becoming more hesitant to do so. I spoke to a golfer the other day who hates to waste money. He bought a new driver and can’t hit it a lick. Yet he did well with his old one. I asked him, “Why don’t you switch back?” He answered, “The new driver cost me over $300. I’m invested.” I asked him what he would do if he bought a book, started reading it, and was uninspired by its contents. “Would you put the book down?” He answered, “No, once I invest money in a book I’m going to finish it.”
I have always believed that once a person has purchased a book they become emotionally involved from the outset. Before one purchases a book it has gone through a screening process. At a minimum the buyer read the back cover. At the other extreme they have read book reviews in the newspaper or have checked out on-line reviews by bloggers or reviews from fellow readers on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads. Before the purchase decision was made the reader has mentally budgeted time in their busy schedule as to when they might actually sit down to read it. The same might even be said for a book they have borrowed from a lending library. But free copies that are given out to readers contain a higher probability of gathering dust on the bookshelf.
That is why I have an aversion to giving out too many free copies. I want people to read my books, not collect them because of the cover art. When I give my books to relatives or friends, some are very excited and often start it the very same day. Others never read it or if they do they are in no rush. “I’ll get to it eventually” they say. I find it amazing that despite knowing me, they do not have the level of curiosity or desire to immediately devour my book. And those that read them and really enjoy them don’t always send me an immediate text or email with their positive reaction. And the real pity is that if they loved the book they should feel compelled to immediately write a favorable review on Amazon. That would be a response that an author would greatly appreciate.
So enough free copies! Buy my book and support the arts. If I have already given you copies of my first three novels and you haven’t read them, do you really deserve a fourth? And if you have read them and thought they were mediocre (very rare in my case) then my next masterpiece would be of little interest to you. And if you loved my last three books, then it is about time you spring for the fourth one on your own.
The digital reading craze helps my predicament in that my readers want to read books on their kindle, nook, Ipad, or other digital device. This assures that they will purchase a digital copy. But some still crave a physical copy so they can have my John Hancock inscribed on the inside cover.
I am proud of my works and I want to share it with the people I’m close with. Of course it is important to have copies available to promote one’s book. At the end of the day if the book ends up in the right hands it could be optioned for a full length feature film.
But the costs start to add up. Free books do not grow on trees. To some extent they might actually kill a few. So if you want me to share my books, how about sharing the love and buy my creations. I have already shared them with the entire world just by writing them.
P.S. What do you think? Am I a total Scrooge by wanting to limit the freebies? Should it be costing me money rather than making me money? Should authorship just become an expensive hobby? Please reply. [mc4wp-form]