It’s important for a self-published author to respond correctly to people and organizations who want a free copy of his or her book. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on getting paid for your work. On the other, you shouldn’t be afraid to release your work to where it has the potential to pay for itself many times over. The challenge is to know the difference.
It doesn’t hurt to realize that not everyone will read your book. This is as true for those who buy it as those who don’t. You may find some people merely buy your novel to ‘support local talent.’ Thank them, and don’t let it bother you–it’s a sale you wouldn’t otherwise get. (Besides, there’s always the possibility they’ll either read it and love it, or give it to someone else who does.)
Don’t expect the media to pay for a copy of your book–they’re doing you a favor in giving you attention, just as you’re doing them a favor by giving them something to talk about. Be respectful, and make sure you include: a sell sheet with your book’s particulars, a press release where appropriate, and a business card with current contact information. Do NOT include an invoice for your book. If they do return it, ‘slightly used,’ you can donate that copy to a book deprived place, like a hospital waiting room, so long as you ask, first. Once you’re published, keep in mind, ‘the camera’ of public perception never gets switched off.
It’s been my personal experience that friends and family who ask for a free copy of my novel are simply not willing to pay for something they don’t intend to read. It’s okay to respond by asking if they read the genre, in my case, science fiction. It’s better for your business and your relationships to peg down an honest ‘no’ than to force your book on someone who doesn’t really want it. (It’s called, ‘maturity.’)
There are a few people who really do want your book and will beg you for a free copy. If you know them, indulge them–just once–and put strings on it. They know, ‘nothing’s free, pal,’ and they can become walking billboards. It also doesn’t hurt to have a few small favors owed to you; just make them promise not to reveal they got a ‘free’ copy.
When you’re just starting out, you may want to consider giving a free copy to local libraries, charities, and places like the school you graduated from. This is a great way to ‘get it out there.’ Besides, you’ve already begun the sequel, haven’t you?
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly