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25 April 2006

What goes around...

Being a writer and the owner of a small press, I'm a member of a few online forums. Today, I received an email on one of my writing forums:

AUTHOR LADY SAID: "I got this email from a friend in my local RWA chapter. She originally asked if she could just send me books to sign but of course I said I would donate the copies. Then I figured others may be interested in sending signed books to this poor girl so I thought I'd pass the email along."

In a nutshell, the friend's story was about how her 14 yr old son's girlfriend (also 14) was hit by a car walking across the street in the crosswalk. There was 4 lanes of traffic and only 3 of them stopped. One of her legs is totally shattered from hip to shin, there's a possible neck injury and she'll be in the hospital for a long time:

THE OTHER LADY SAID: "I'm looking for some special things in the upcoming weeks that will help her pass some of the time. If I send you some of your books, would you to sign them and send them back. I think it would be neat for her to have something special like that. Also could you recommend some other good reads for a 14 year old . She's going to get really bored when she starts feeling better."

AUTHOR LADY was kind enough to pass the email along to everyone on the forum. I read the email and promptly replied with a "Hell yeah." Ok, well, I didn't quite say it like that, but I intend to send the girl copies of my book. Thinking that I'd spread the love, I decided to cut and paste the whole email and send it to some other writing forums as well as a couple of professional forums. The following response is the reason why I'm blogging right now.

HE SAID: "There are countless legitimate charities that do this sort of thing. Many hospitals have some sort of volunteer organization that among other things provides reading matter for patients. For that matter, there's really nothing to stop this girl's friends and family from going down to the public library and keeping her fully stocked with reading matter. I'm guessing he missed the part where THE OTHER LADY's talking about something special. And why go through a volunteer organization--which might take forever--when you can talk directly to the author yourself? And who the hell wants musty ol' library books when you can have your own autographed copies?

Meantime, I see dozens of hard luck tales that just have to be scams. So have I, however...I'm sorry, but once such an e-mail appeal passes through more than two hands (a friend of a friend of a friend...) it's beyond my trust. This particular one may be completely legit, but with the donations being sent to a private address (rather than c/o a patient at a hospital), my "doubt sensors" go hyperactive....just because it's a private address doesn't mean it's a scam. It means this little girl--and not the waiting room in some hospital--is going to get the books. It means we don't know how long she's going to be in the hospital, but at least we know she'll get the books because, gee, I dunno, IT'S HER SON'S GIRLFRIEND. By the way, RWA stands for Romance Writers of America so you'd better believe your Doubting Thomas ass this request is legit.

I think of the discussions on some publishing/authors lists where folks complain about review copies showing up on Amazon and eBay, and well... do you think the chances here are better than 50/50?....yes, I do. The folks that are complaining about this are amateurs, because every writer knows that it's all about exposure. If you don't want other people to read your books then stop sending free copies to reviewers and stick to writing in your damn journal.

I hate to sound hard hearted, but that's the way I see it. "Send money to the Red Cross to help with hurricane relief" is one thing. This sort of appeal is something else entirely."...and it's not an appeal, dickwad, or didn't you read that last part about recommending good reads for a 14 yr old?

Don't get me wrong. I understand people are entitled to their own opinions. But it's comments like this that make me wanna reach thru my computer and slap this person upside the head with his keyboard. Maybe it's different for other publishers. Maybe they see donating books to someone other than a well-known organization as a scam. Maybe I'm still a greenhorn in the business of small press because when I read that email, all I saw was two things: youth and books. Scratch that, I saw three things: youth, books, and exposure.

I know I've popped off about this topic before and now look what this man has done did? He's made me get my soapbox out again.

*pulls out wooden crate to the middle of the floor and climbs on*

I'm not in this for me. I write because I have stories to tell. I write because it would be nice to have a loyal fan base, big or small. I write because it was my intention to become published, whether it be self-publish or traditional. If any writer wants any kind of success, you're going to have to give back. You're going to have to give away hundreds of your books for free. You know what I'm talking about: reviewers, writing contests, author contests, raffles, auctions, award nominations, donations, etc. You have to give, to get. Even now, my fiancee doesn't understand this--which is why I no longer try to involve him in my business.

A woman feels sympathy for her son's girlfriend and wants to make her feel better by giving her something special. Oh, the horror! It's a lie. It's a scam. Don't get sucked in. Your book is going to end up on eBay, Amazon Marketplace or, even worse--gasp--the used bookstore!! *insert bloodcurdling scream here*. You know what I say to that? SO EFFIN WHAT? God forbid she like my book and end up sharing it with her friends. God forbid she likes my book, gives it to her school librarian, who ends up buying 100 copies for the school library.

It's apparent this man has no vision and needs to be banned from the forum for being such a COMPLETE IDIOT. If you can't take your blinders off and take advantage of the obvious marketing opportunity staring you right in the face--and poking you in the eyeballs--then you have no business being a publisher and will be of no use to your authors. It's called "giving back to the community" and I guarantee your authors are going to want to do this on occasion.

I know what you're thinking right about now: so, did you give him what-for? I wanted to. For reals. I'd taken off my shoes, removed my jewelry and was ready to bust open a can of Whoop Ass...but I refrained. There was no nice way to respond to that without some serious 'tude involved. Besides, I have a better outlet..and it's called Gemini's Wisdom.

*steps down off the crate and kicks it to the side*.

In the words of Alicia Keys: "It's called Karma, baby. What goes around, comes around."
posted by GeminiWisdom @ 11:17 PM |

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