Sunday, September 21, 2014

There is no free lunch

By Kristi Belcamino

When you write a book, very rarely is it a solo effort.

You write the words, but then there are so many other people who make a book possible. In my case, that includes my husband, my agent, my editor, my writer's group, my beta readers, and so on.

That is why the acknowledgment page is so important.

I want to always thank those who help me and if I could I'd give every one of them a free copy of my book.

In fact, when good friends, my mom, members of my writing group, etc., buy my book, I can't help but feel a little guilty—as if I should give them a copy of my book for free.

Because I would really like to do that.

But I'm not rich. And that's the crux of it.

When BLESSED ARE THE DEAD was published, I received two advanced copies. My husband snagged one and I grabbed the other. Two. Free. Copies. That's it. Yup.

So if I were to give away books for free, I'd basically be buying the books out of my own pocket and giving them away.

I wish I could.

But the truth is there is no free lunch for authors.

Sure, some might get a few copies here and there to give to reviewers, but in my case. Not so much.

I've purchased copies of my own book to bring to library author talks, book club meetings, and other gatherings. As grateful as I am to have someone buy my book - thank you, thank you, thank you - it is always a big strange to take the money myself.

So, when my friends buy my books, I always feel guilty.

Grateful, but guilty.

I know that's silly because I am always happy to buy my friend's books, but STILL. It's just a little bit of an uncomfortable situation.

It gets even more awkward when someone, maybe a friend who isn't connected to the book world at all, who assumes you get a boatload of free books, asks for one. Nicely asks for one. And does not mean anything bad by it, would just really like to have one of your books.  I never know how to handle that either.

How do you handle that graciously? Any advice is welcome.

For now, I say thank you and hope that is enough.


jack welling said...

"My publishers doesn't provide promotional copies anymore. In the 80's , sure.. But no more. I have to buy the copies I sell at readings, too. Who knew I'd have to buy my own book for my own bookshelf?"

No one asks their neighbor who works for Ford for a free pick-up. Folks ask thinking you are a walking free book dispenser. Just tell them the state of affairs in neutral tones. They'll understand.

Kristi said...

Right! IT is the way of the world now!