Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Get Free Books

Become a writer-or a reviewer of course. Once you embark on a writing career, you will join associations, go to conferences, and never come home without a load of free books. The trouble is as you work on your own book, you have less and less time to read. I estimate my pile of to-be-reads is now two years deep. Recently, I pulled Hollis Gillespie's book, Trailer Trashed, from the bottom of my pile. It was at the bottom because, being a hard-cover, I used it to balance all the paperbacks above it. But, I have owned the book for two years having purchased it at the HeartLa Readers' Luncheon a long time ago. Her short, pithy, often humerous pieces are just what I am in the mood for right now. Hollis, sorry it took me so long to get around to it. Some of those paperbacks will yellow before I get to them.

It's often said once you become a published author, you no longer enjoy reading quite as much. In some ways, this is true. Suddenly every undetected typo jumps out at you, and you notice a very famous author used "was" twelve times on her first page. You can tell when a writer is padding to get her word count. You must turn off the editor in order to enjoy the books. And now, I have so many to read. Because in the end, all authors want is for someone to enjoy their story.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hand Selling your Book - or Friends & Relatives

I give a lecture entitled "Adventures in e-Publishing" where I quote a statistic that says most e-published books will sell only 150 copies. After giving my speech to a literary group, a self-published author stayed behind to say he easily had 150 friends and relatives to buy his books. I said, "Exactly". Selling beyond your friends and relatives is the problem.

As it turns out, the most obvious places to sell your book, libraries and bookstores, are the worst, except for those in your own home town where again, you will attract friends and relatives. A recent foray to an out-of-town library where I gave my speech to a tiny audience resulted in no sales at all. I learned I had done well to sell five copies at a Barnes & Noble event - but those who bought were friends.

So what else can an author do? Yeah, yeah, blog tours and blogging though you never know if that has done any good at all. My editor suggested Arts & Crafts fairs. Fortunately, I also paint and had a sidewalk sale coming up. I put my book and myself out there with my works of art and sold seven copies. Granted most sales were again to folks I knew, but a few were not. And a curious things happened. Those who were put off my super hot cover of the half-naked guy bought a little piece of art instead as a sort of compensation sale meaning "I wouldn't be caught dead holding your book, but I will take this charming sketch of a cat". I am not too proud to say it works for me. I came home with $152 in cash having sold an equal number of books and small pieces of art. Best I've ever done at a sidewalk sale.

Can't draw or paint? A newly self-pubbed author had a place two down from mine. He joined the Art Guild to get the free apace and sat there with nothing but a box of books on his card table. He sold them all - probably to friends and relatives, but I have no way of knowing. Caveat: If you have to pay $50 for a booth, probably not worth it unless several authors chip in for the cost.

As for the two gay guys who picked up my free postcards of the half-naked guy on my cover - enjoy.