When to buy a book

When to buy a book

We’ve said this before, but I’ve had a few people email me about some recent posts by authors who give fans specific instructions on when to purchase their books and in what form and if they should follow said guidelines when purchasing our books.  How each author interacts with their fans is their own business.  This is not a critique of anyone, this is simply a clarification of our policy and approach to fan interaction.  This is our space to chat with you, so here goes.

When is the best time to buy our books?

Any time.  A sale is a sale.  Thank you for giving our books a try.  We hope you’ll like them.

What format is best to buy our books in?

Whatever format is most convenient for you.  If you prefer paper and purchase in paper, thank you.  If you prefer ebook and purchase a mobi, an epub, or a PDF, thank you.  We appreciate it.

People occasionally ask which format gives us the bigger cut of profits. If you ask me, I’ll tell you, but that shouldn’t be the purchase guide.  The only criteria for purchase is your convenience as a reader. That’s it.

But I want to support you as an author.  What can I do?

You’re already supporting us by purchasing a book.

I bought the book second-hand or borrowed it from a library/friend. I would like to contribute.

If you like our books, please tell a friend.  If you would be willing to post a review some place or simply mention the book on a social network, thank you.  We appreciate your support.  But please don’t feel obligated to do so if you don’t want to.  And if you borrowed a book from the library and really want to contribute, please consider making a small donation to your library.  In the time of economic downturn, social and education services suffer the most and many libraries are strapped for cash.

But what about release weeks and royalties and…

Please don’t worry about release weeks and royalties.  Buying a book should be a pleasant experience, free of guilt and obligations to the author.  Books are there to be purchased at your convenience whenever the urge to buy one strikes you. If you get a book early, because the store put it out before release week, you got the book early.  Awesome. Just please don’t spoiler anyone.

A sale is a sale.  We appreciate it.

It’s easy for you to say, you’re #1 NYT author.

At the time we posted the first version of this post, our book had just hit the tail end of NYT and we posted it in response to emails from readers asking us when and how to buy to best benefit our career.  Our advance was $15,000 per book.  This strategy worked out well for us and I see no reason to change it.

Putting obligations and restrictions on readers and telling them when to buy something means they will feel guilty if they fail to buy it on author’s terms. We want you to be eager and excited to buy our books, not guilty.  Because if you make someone feel guilty about buying something, they will eventually stop buying it. We avoid things that make us feel guilty.

And if some readers have a problem-with-authority streak, like me, they will stop buying the books the moment the author tries to give them instructions.  Because I personally won’t tolerate anyone telling me when and how I should spend the money I worked really hard to earn. As a businesswoman, I want to do everything in my power to avoid loss of revenue.

In addition, if you ask a fandom a favor, you then owe the fandom.  Individual fans are kind, generous, awesome people.  Fandom is a raging hydra.  You piss off the hydra at your peril.

It’s about creative independence. As an author, I don’t want to owe the fandom, because we already have people trying to dictate the plots, romantic relationships, and other aspects of the books.  There is a lot of pressure from the fans as is.

Reading is an interactive process.  Each reader views a book through the prism of their personal experiences and experiences unique emotions in response to the narrative.  That’s why fans are fans: they love the books, they are enthusiastic, and they feel that this world we created belongs to them, because as they read the books, they emotionally contributed to it. Inevitably some people will be disappointed by the books.  Compounding this by asking fans for favors is a dangerous undertaking. In my experience, the only way to do it is to offer a very specific quid pro quo.  As in “if my book wins this poll, you get this short story or that snippet.” Even so, guess what?  If we don’t win the poll, we provide the consolation prize anyway.


Because you don’t want people to associate feelings of guilt and failure with your book.  They voted.  They did their part. You have to provide something in return, so they don’t feel too disappointed. Because the aim is again to keep everyone feeling excited and happy about the purchase of your product. This is Business 101.

Again, each author’s philosophy and approach is different.  This is not a critique of anyone, but simply an explanation of our approach and reasons behind it.

To reiterate, for these reasons, please don’t worry about when and how to purchase our books.  Thank you so much for buying them.  We hope you like them.


  1. Natalie says

    Thank you for your wonderful work! I also thank you for working with a publisher that allows libraries to purchase their books. I have had many a conversation with the librarians at my local library about how some publishers do not allow libraries to purchase some or any of the formats of their books. Or in the case of ebooks repurchase the book after a certain number of patrons have borrowed it. I am happy to say Kate’s books are the ones I try to buy as soon as they come out or I find used even though I am currently broke. I would have not been able to enjoy or even know of your books if not for a library. I found a preview/description of a Kate series book at the back of a library book; don’t rememder what the host title was.

  2. aravis says

    Every author should have a hydra (preferably not raging, just a tame, domesticated one). For every fan that drops off, two spring into place!

  3. gaelle from France says

    Thank you for this post . You’re awesome. Me, liking your books ? It’s an euphemism, I love your books, and I worship you both.

    • Ilona says

      Fans are individual people. Fandom is the collective body of fans and their social interactions, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.

  4. Natalie says

    I have been meaning to ask, are the pirate books Andrea loves real or are they mayed up books for your books? If they do not exist in our reality would you please Wright them? I know speak for the unhydranated fandom in saying we would buy them, because any cheesy pirate romances you two would Wright would be AWESOME! Wity cheesy bits and all.

  5. Dotti Elrick says

    Thank You for that post. This is one of many reasons I respect and love what you do. You are “real people” who just happen to write great books. That is the reason I choose to support authors like you. I follow some authors who you never hear from until it’s new release time. And then they flood you with reminders to pre-order their books so their publisher knows how popular they are so in the long run we as readers get more books. After the book is released, we never hear from then until the next release. We are just a paycheck to them.
    So again, Thank You for sharing what you do with your fans.

  6. Monique Daoust says

    There is this very famous writer I decided to follow on Facebook. I adore his books and have read almost all of them, purchased. His posts barely said: “Buy this book” (his upcoming release). So I “unliked” him. Just as you pointed. And I haven’t bought the latest one. I’ll get it from the library. Thank you for an illuminating article !

  7. dsolo says

    This is completely off topic, but I thought about your field trip story when listening to the hotel problems in Sochi. Any comments about what would be in water that would eat your face off? I am so glad that you are here now.

  8. Prospero says

    I bought your first book from a used book store and then went out and bought the next 2 new a few days later :)

    • Katie S says

      I love the audio books and purchased the first Kate book for the reduced rate of $4.99. Within a month I purchased the rest of the audio books (from Audible) and continue to do so with each new purchase. When I found your blog, I was happy to find that the creators of this awesome series are also wonderful and caring people. A win-win situation!

  9. Joanne says

    I first found your books at my local library, they had the first 3, and I only grabbed the first one. Big mistake, I was back to the library 2 days later getting number 2 and 3. I have since bought them on my Kindle cause I like to reread them. Nice to know you appreciate however we get to read/buy your books. I certainly appreciate you two writing them!

  10. Diana says

    I “FOUND” the first book at the bookstore. Went back and purchased all the others as fast as possible. Now have purchased the ebooks for my nook. Look for any anthologies with your short stories. Did the same. I swear I would purchase the phone book, if you would write one. Love your stories and can’t wait for the next one.
    Thank you very much for allowing me to experience it with you.

  11. marcia says

    the first time I bought one of Kate’s story. I bought the book was because I was being rushed by my kids thru the book store they had the books they wanted and my eye was caught by the cover. When I started reading it,the story line grab my attention to the point, I burned the potatoes I was cooking for a potato salad. I has hooked ever since and have bought every copy new and now am buying for my nook payday by payday until I’ll have both paper and e book copies. You two are the best authors to my mind. You interact with your fans. You are true and real to yourselves and to us the fans. I enjoy your books and blogs. Please keep up the good work. Blessing to you and your family.

  12. says

    Well said. It’s a privilege to tell a story and share with others. Lots of books out there. If a reader carved out the time from their schedule to read my book–thank you. How you did it, when you did it and whether or not you purchased or borrowed on any given day isn’t my business. I’ll just add my voice–if you’re loaning from the library, give back with a donation, etc. We need our libraries. They are our gateways to wonder.
    Grace Draven recently posted..A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter

  13. Muriel says

    When I was young, money was tight, and books could only be acquired from used book stores and garage sales. Being in a position now to actually buy books new and support living, publishing authors whose works I enjoy is immensely satisfying.

    Knowing that buying the book in the first week of a book’s release can help the sales #s means that I will make the point of buying certain series/authors then when the budget allows. I wouldn’t have known that, however, if an author hadn’t kindly answered my question when I asked how I could help best. But as you say, a sale is a sale, and I’ll buy when the budget allows.

    It just never gets old, though, that thrill of knowing that I can play a part in helping favorite authors keep writing. :-)