Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Free Book Fandango

Most people love getting things for free. They don’t love the thing, but getting it for free is awesome. It’s been more than once that I’ve been asked for a free signed book from people I know, and that always surprises me.

A lot of people do ask how they can support me as an indie author and the author to that question is actually quite ordinary: read, review, refer. Click like on the post, share it with friends, tell people you know someone who is a writer. Giving free signed copies of the work doesn’t necessarily conduce to success especially if people don’t show more interest in your work than to get a freebie.

Why do I share this? Because several future writers would benefit from knowing that people who “support” them are different than people who truly support them. The ones who support you won’t ask for freebies and the ones who do will only ask you to keep going, to believe in yourself as much as they believe in you.

On Saturday I posted the question on a book panel of great people talking about marketing tactics on the GoIndieNow channel and they were all confused by the question. Joshua Robertson I think captured it best, “that puts the author in a very awkward situation.”

It does and it has.

Although it’s been some time, people have asked me for free signed copies of my novel. A book that took 7 years to write/transcribe/edit/publish. A book I paid top dollar for its cover out of my own pocket. In addition, the odds of that person actually reading, reviewing, and referring your work are intensely low. They just want the freebie. And when you politely say no, suddenly you are too big for your britches and think you’re hot shit. Suddenly you’re the big shot writer who is too good for everyone else.

By the way, might I add one small detail: if this person has a business, they not only won’t give their service for free but would consider a discount an offense.

I share this not to cry a river or talk about the injustice of it all but to offer one of the not so cool things you may encounter on your writer journey. I’ve been asked for discounted price on my book on the last day of an expo. I kindly decline on the principle of it. If someone was willing to pay full price, I cannot give the work away because it is an insult to the person who came first. Actually, what normally happens with me is that people who come first and swing by every day of a convention, may get something additional. Case in point, a lovely fan who is also a very cool Slytherin passed by my booth on Friday and bought two books. She came by on Saturday and brought friends who bought 3 books (1 a piece). Then came back on Sunday and couldn’t decide on two of my books because she only had money for one. She got the two books for the price of one, a picture, a hug, and my thanks for caring enough to in the span of 3 days show me that my work is worthwhile not only to her, but to friends. Another example, one of the kindest frands I’ve ever had has helped motivate me in the toughest of days. She’s bought all my work… not just the books, but the Blanc Comics, and pretty much everything I put out. What did I do? I asked her mom for a PO Box address to send her a personalized book before it came out.

Why do I do this? Because to me it’s a variation of the golden rule. If you invest in me, I shall invest in you. That is the same in life, in social media, and in anything. Some people are so desperate to get exposure that they will dance the Free Book Fandango and they dance it so well, that they can even be left without books and without a profit to compensate for all the hard work they’ve invested. It’s not just that writers deserve better than this, it’s that people deserve better than this.

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in life is to know when to say No. Another is to learn how to value the things we offer and create. Here’s to finding out how to do both, stay classy, and smile big, because in the end, it’s all worth it.

Peace, love, and maki rolls


  1. Wow. Fantastic Post! I've seen this from both sides - as a delegate and working behind the booth. You recognize those people just looking for freebies and swag. I keep bookmarks on hand for those occasions.

    1. Thanks for reading and indeed, I've thought of doing the bookmark thing but have held back because I'd rather do a very special set of bookmarks. I can understand the appeal of a freebie, but getting pestered for it or people who love to haggle is a bit meh lol. Hope you're having a great weekend and here's to investing and being invested in! :)