Saturday, May 24, 2008

Free Books Anyone? Give Them Where They'll Do Some Good

If you're an author, you are probably giving away books. Sometimes it's the only polite and promotion-savvy thing to do. Other times not.

Here are the people you should give books to:

1. To those with a loyal following. Influential people might mention them and spread the word -- verbally, in blogs, in newsletters, in their own books (as references), etc.

2. To reviewers. Ask before you send one though. No point in wasting a good book. Do not ask your reviewers to buy your book. If someone who has bought a book offers to review it, consider sending them a nice thank you gift -- something more substantial than a bookmark. If not, at least send them a handwritten thank you note.

3. To those who have helped you with your publishing. That would be those you mention in your acknowledgements and maybe some others as well.

4. Anyone kind enough to give you a blurb or endorsement.

5. To contest judges.

6. To those you quote in your book (they are probably well-known in their fields and likely to mention your book to others).

Now here's who not to give books to:

If you've published with the goal of becoming commercially viable, don't give books to every friend and relative on your holiday list. Instead invite them to your launch. Most will be pleased to support you by buying one or more books. It is true that most people tend to read books that they really want to read, not necessarily those given to them. And many people don't read much these days. It is sad, but true. We are all busy, so use your free copy budget judiciously. Giving your mother a book won't force her to read it if she doesn't want to.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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