***Before I get carried away with this rant, let me qualify–
1. Readers are always welcome to books. You want a signed paperback copy of one of my books or a gift certificate for a Kindle download? ASK. If I have a copy available it’s yours, and if I ain’t broke I can swing a Kindle gift certificate.
2. Reviewers who specifically ask me to provide a book for a giveaway – always. I’ve reached quite a few new readers via reviews/giveaways.
3. As long as I remain with KDP Select, I will continue to avail myself of the five free promo days. You can count on that.
4. I will continue to donate to charities. Charitable organizations have never asked me for more than is reasonable. Every charitable organization I’ve worked with has said… “We appreciate whatever you are willing to send.”
So exactly to whom have I donated and why are these donations coming to an end?
For years now I’ve been asked to donate books, gift certificates and miscellaneous prizes to various conferences, conferences I don’t attend, conferences I will never attend. I’ve been asked to donate as many as 50 books for a single event.
Take a minute to think about this. In order to donate 50 books I must buy 50 books at full price from Amazon because none of my publishers provides me with free copies. I turn around and donate the books and pay shipping costs. Let’s see… 50 books at $12.99-$16.99 a pop? You do the math. Yes, when I buy my own books I do see some return in the form of royalties, but not much. The amount of royalties I receive in this case barely covers the shipping cost.
I’m not rich. Are authors rich? Some authors are rich, not me.
Over the years I’ve agreed to requests to donate gift baskets to big time conferences. In four years one solitary reader has contacted me to tell me she won a copy of Capture. She said she loved the book and thanked me for writing it. That was nice, but…
I’ve never received a single thank you note or email from a conference coordinator or the person in charge of donations. Most recently I put together a unique and very cool gift basket for a big conference in Chicago. Me, put it together myself complete with books, gift certificates and other goodies, packed it carefully in a big box and paid the shipping costs… the very high shipping costs.
Haven’t heard a word from anyone.
A year ago I was asked to donate 100 books. Yes, I’m serious, 100 books. I didn’t have 100 books and I didn’t have the money to buy 100 books. Instead I printed (on very nice shiny photo paper) 100 full-color gift certificates to be redeemed for my books on Kindle. The only thing necessary was to email me with a request and the redemption code printed on the certificate. Exactly three people redeemed books. My expenses? The photo paper and two color ink cartridges – and those things ain’t cheap – and postage. Oh… and my time!
So done with all that. Done being a sap, spending money I don’t have in the hopes of reaching more readers. It’s like advertising. Doesn’t work for shit.
The truth is, my time is valuable. I have books rolling around in this brain of mine, eager to be written, and I’d rather spend the money on my kids.
But remember, if you’re a reader and you want a signed book, like I keep saying, all you have to do is ask.