Baffled

It’s not often I talk about things writers do that make me shake my head, but I have to say this. Quite a while back I remember a certain writer blogging about how she wanted her readers to not pre-order her books, and to go to the store during the first week/month of release to buy it. Now, I’m seeing it again.

I understand why this is something said author wants. I even rememebr talking abotuthe business side of thigns here once. And it is the business of things. Publishers and booksellers look at a books sales in that first month as an inicator of how well all of that authors books will sell. Some authors stress this buying time to thier readers because that is also how they get on a best sellers list. Think of it as opening weekend for a movie.

But I think it’s tacky to do keep reminding your readers that you need them to buy your book during a specific time – to say to readers, “If you like this series, and want to see the next installment, but this one now, or the publisher won’t buy my next book.”

It seems too much like whining to me. I mean c’mon… I’m just thrilled readers are buying my books anytime. Do I want good sales? ofcourse I do! But I also believe that if I just keep writing good stories, readers will keep buying them.

As an author I do believe there a couple of things you can do to boost your sales. Things that don’t include pressuring/begging/ or guilting readers. Things like, promotions. By that I mean – yes, I am aware of how little most of us get paid -but if you want your book to do well, think of it as an investment in yourself. Spend some money, get those bookmarks, print ads, and flyers done up.

Giveaways. Yes, I want readers to buy my books. But money is tight for almost everyone these days, so free reads on a website, and giveaways of author copies is a great way to hook new readers without them spending any money.

Appearances. Online or in person. Booksignings, confrences, chats, whatever.
You wil not always sell books ata booksigning. I know I’ve done when at a big busy store andnot sold 1 book during that time. However, I talked to a ton of people, and handed out bookmarks and coverflaps and stuff that I hope will make people either drop by my website, or pick up the book later, when there is no pressure.

There are things we can do, and things we have no control over. I think the best way to insure your next contract with a publisher, and many sales to readers, is to write a good story. But I think talking to your readers about how much you need them to buy your book is not the way to go. In all honesty, it makes me not want to buy that particular book. Am I being too harsh? Maybe I’m just stubborn that way.

Just my opinion.

6 comments for “Baffled

  1. December 3, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    To play the Devil’s advocate….

    I think some authors are doing this (telling readers about when is the best time to buy their books, or how they can help to prevent a series from being cut, etc) because a lot of readers honestly do not know how the publishing industry works. I’ve talked with a good amount of readers who think it’s glamorous like the movie industry. After all, the writer just has to… write… right?

    That being said, I don’t much care for the “doom and gloom” posts — if you, the reader, don’t help the authors, they’re screwed — or the begging. If you’re putting the information out there in an easily accessible location and are simply explaining the realities of the situation, I think that’s okay.

    But a lot of writers don’t do that. Instead, they post it around their release date. And yeah, I tend to think that’s a bit tacky, though I can understand their motivations for doing so.

  2. December 3, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    Exactly, Nonny. I agree that educating readers is great. I mean, this a business, and it’s not an easy one. But I do think that at times, it can be better handled.

  3. December 3, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Hm. What’s really misguided about that is pre-orders count toward first week sales. I confirmed this with an agent a few months back when the question was posed to me and I *thought* that was the case. So pre-orders are a good thing :)

    However, I have seen authors do a freak out (and you can’t even couch it as education, they were freak outs, lolol) about people buying their books (or their author friend’s books) early in say, Wal-mart. Before the official street date.

    Truthfully, while readers are always happy to see you make bestseller lists, they’re only human and they’re even happier if they get a highly anticipated book earlier than they expected to. Nothing wrong with that, at least you know you have one loyal, eager fan and I don’t think that’s something you want to mess with.

  4. December 4, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    What I don’t like is when an author only comes out of hiding when promoting a new release. Same with the ‘buy ONLY then and not now’ posts… It all seems to me as if the author is only paying attention to readers for a certain time, then turns her/his back and hide again till the next book will be released…

    I think some of these promo plans out there tell authors to start to promote releases 6-4 months prior to its publication date, so why not promoting in little steps all over the year instead begging? So, I’m right here with you: promo yes, begging no.

  5. December 5, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    I recently blogged about this issue. Sort of. Many of us authors are facing declining bookstore orders and, if we don’t get brick-and-mortar sales, our careers can rapidly go down the toilet. I’ve never told anyone to “Go out and get my current book right away!” because I do think it’s tacky. I have, however, talked about buzz and word of mouth. The best thing any reader can do is TALK about the books and writers they love. It’s free and more effective than any other advertising.

    I don’t give a flip if reders buy my books early, from B&N the first week, from Amazon a year from now, or from a used bookstore. I’m just as happy if they borrow them from friends or libraries. The whole point is to craft an enjoyable read. I have no desire to be a bestseller or to have a huge advance. For me, it’s all about the story and making the readers happy.

  6. December 5, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    I wasn’t aware of the sales liek that, Angie. Very cool to know. Although I try very hard not to get too obsessed about my sales numbers. It really is an insane downhill spiral mentally. My agent is font of telling me to forget everything else, she’ll sell the stories, I just need to write them.

    Frauke, I disappear from promoting online alot. Not to only come put when there’s a new release, but becasue if I don’t disappear at times there will never be another release. My own attention span is too small to split between writing and promoting. LOL However, I am always on here (my blog) and on my chat loop. I just don’t always particapte in others.

    Tambo, educating readers is good. :) Even better is what you say about the story, and making readers happy. We all talk abotu the business isde of things at time. I do to. It’s just I do believe some people stress their sales and such a little too much for my liking. I’m talking as a reader. I’ve decided not to buy books before when I’ve felt pressured, simply because I hate to be pressured.

    I think it’s something we, as writers, should keep in mind when we talk in public, and when we blog/do chats.

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