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.