Jerks & Irks XXX: Free is, as Free Does

What happens when you tell people you’re a writer? They say:

“I’d better get a copy!”

“When do I get a copy?”

“You’re gonna give me a signed copy, right?”

Of course! My goal was NEVER to make a living!

Of course! My goal was NEVER to make a living!

Umm, what the frick, people? Hellooo! Starving artist here! Pay up! (A select handful of people say “I can’t wait to buy a copy!” And I love those people and wish I could give them all a puppy.)

And what’s worse is that most of the time, the people who assume they’re getting free copies of Blood in the Past and Blood in the Paint are in positions to give ME free stuff. And haven’t. Like my Pseudo-Boss Sandy. Every time I see her she asks to read my book. Like, right now. Like, she doesn’t even want to wait for it to be out, she wants to read it over my shoulder on my computer before I get a chance to print it out at Staples, right now. Umm, no. You have to wait. You have to buy a copy. I don’t even like you. Or, since you work at that highfalutin Racket Club, get me a membership. FREE!

Then there’s the Nail Salon Lady. When I stopped getting acrylic gel tips (aka longer, harder fake nails) she asked me why. I told her that I only wore those when I worked in the restaurant business because washing my hands a million times a day makes my nails soft and brittle. I told her that I’m writing a book now. She keeps asking where’s her copy. Umm, when it’s finished I’ll tip you a business card with a QR code on it, since you own the shop and never offered to do my pedicures for FREE. Not once. Not ever.

Does this happen to you guys? If so, how do you handle it? Especially if you’re an Indie Publisher and would have to pay for copies of your own book in order to give one away to every Tim, Dana, and Henry. (I’m a writer, can’t use the clichéd “Tom, Dick, and Harry. 😛 )

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26 thoughts on “Jerks & Irks XXX: Free is, as Free Does

  1. I have given away a lot of free books, it’s true, but luckily, many people realize that I paid for those books and am losing money. I find that by offering to sell it to them directly, instead of them having to buy it off Amazon or from my local bookstore, they are happy, because I’m selling it at such a reduced price. I don’t get much of a royalty, anyway, once the publisher and middle man get their cut, so this way, I actually get a little more per book, and the buyer gets it for several dollars cheaper, which makes them happy. Win win.

  2. Oh yes, I get that response.

    I think people expect an author is given a bunch of gratis copies, or that because the book is “yours,” you can give away as many as you want.

    People also think writers make a lot more than they do. The see it almost like winning the lottery, a massive stroke of luck with a huge windfall involved and so they sometimes get almost offended by the implication they should pay you for the book.

    • I can understand that train of thought if I said I was traditionally published and signed with an agent and all that, but everyone I talk to knows I’m not going that route. Which brings me back to starving artist, haha.

  3. My roommate last year told me to call her when I get published. She said she’s going to drag her friends to the book store and make them all buy a copy. But when people ask if I’ll give them a copy, I tell them I accept payment in cash, chocolate, and coffee.

  4. Weirdly, this hasn’t happened to me at all. Maybe it’s because I’m living in a different country, and if I was in the UK more people would be demanding freebies. But as it is, what I’ve mainly got is ‘can you sign the copy I bought whenever you’re back?’. Which is nice.

    How’s the book(s) coming, anyway? Nearly there?

    • So if I go to another country, I can escape the harassment of the leeches? Something to think about…

      The book(s) go great! The prequel is all typed up. Revisions await before it goes to Red Adept for editing. And the novel is three chapters from being done! Eek!

      Thanks for asking, you made my day!

  5. When I had a publisher (such as ti was), I could simply say, “Well, my publisher controls distribution of the copies, and they only give out free copies to certain reviewers.” Now that I self-publish, it’s more awkward. Of course, a lot of casual acquaintances don’t even know, care, or understand the diff between self-pubbing and mainstream pubbing, so sometimes I still use the old excuse. Other times I say something vague like, “I will definitely let you know when it’s released.” And then I change the subject. Most people forget about it later. The real friends and truly interested parties usually go and buy it and then tell me they bought it after the fact.

    • I’ve been thinking of altering the publishing house excuse. I started my own publishing company so I could say something along the lines of: paying for copies myself then not receiving income from them would screw up my books. Most people wouldn’t have a clue whether or not that’s true.

  6. I gave away a ton of ebook copies of Breathe since I have the digital file and I’m self published. I linked a blog post on my personal Facebook about writing a book, which a lot of people didn’t know. I got a lot of people wanting to read it so I sent it to them. Some wanted to buy it but if they were friends I just gave it for free and helped them figure out how to download it onto their ereaders. I told them it was free and I would love a fair and honest review when they were done. My books doing pretty well. Not all reviewed but they are spreading the word and asking for the next. I know it seems rude when they ask for free but you never know who will promote your book or who they will promote to. I totally get not giving away physical copies because that would get really expensive but ecopies? No problem. If you give it to them for free they will probably promote you without you even asking. =)

  7. Pingback: The Best Moment Award | Sharon C. Cooper

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