Monday, November 27, 2006


Okay, had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving on Saturday (yeah, I know, but it's the holiday that counts, not the day on which you celebrate it). Only somewhere near the end of evening, when everyone had taken a walk, finished off another bottle of Pinot Grigio, run out of decaf, and stared at the fire, we all talked about the good things that had happened to us this year and I mentioned the new anthology, "LAndmarked for Murder."

Big mistake. I had plenty of copies on hand and freely gave them to all who were interested, but I wonder if some folks asked out of politeness, not because they wanted one. So what do I do? I gave them out. Yes, I know they cost me money - but who else would I give them to anyway? On the other hand, I never want to push them on folks who don't want them…what to do, what to do?

Let's talk about giving out free copies of your books.

1. Free copies: There are really few free copies for you, the author. You might have an ARC (Advance Review Copy) sent to a newspaper, magazine or individual for review, but that copy comes from the publisher and goes to the reviewer.

Any author's copies you get – usually somewhere between one and five – are the prizes for your own shelf. If it's an anthology (mine all are as I write short stories and not novels) I like to take a keepsake copy and have all the other authors and the editors and the nice lady who brought me water or cake or something at the launch party sign it. That leaves a couple to give to whomever I based a character on or used a name from. That leaves maybe one for my own shelf in pristine condition. ("That? Oh, yeah, a book I wrote…" You never know who might peruse your shelves. Alan Hess dropped by my house once and noticed I did not have *his* book on the coffee table, a condition since remedied.)

2. Your family thinks you get the books for free and they all want one. They don't know you may get a discount, but they are not free. Are these the same family members who are unsupportive? Use your own judgment: if you like them, buy them copies. If they have been jerks, point them to a bookstore.

3. Fans, strangers, celebrities, your nail stylist, the postman, your boss at your day job, etc. A fan once wrote me such a charming letter that I sent him all 3 books, autographed. His thank-you note made my day. But most folks get pointed to the bookstore. The exception here is gift-giving occasions. If a birthday or something is just around the corner, what better gift than something with your name prominently displayed on the cover? (Although I have to admit, for my brother's wedding I sent a gift certificate, not a copy of "A Deadly Dozen.")

4. Your friends. They know you and still like you. They know you write and still like you. They may be writers, too. Give them the books. What are friends for… If they are writers, they'll probably tell you they already bought it for full price. Now that's a friend who also writes.

(Okay, that last one isn't really mine...)


It was raining this morning. The rocks of my desert garden out front sparkled and the swale looked like a real desert stream.

The sight of my friends in my new house eating and drinking and laughing and playing with the pets. Pictures to come!

The perfect peace of the inside of my car after shopping.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been in that position yet, but I'm surprised people would ask for a free copy! Good to have the heads up, as well as advice on how to handle it. Thanks.

Kate Thornton said...

Sonnjea b - You will be in that position sooner than you know! Keep on writing - and your blog is truly fun!

Pamela V said...

What a beautiful garden!

Regarding all the free copies, it's sad that most people won't read them. Ditto regarding my book. One of my friends ordered a copy and made a few comments, but basically, I could tell she put it down and never picked it back up. I hate that!