Lately I have done a few book chats for book clubs. While I enjoy talking about my novels with others who have read them, I have discovered (again) how frugal folks can be. The last book club I visited was at a senior residence. It's a large, beautiful environment and the ladies boasted they had their own library. Unfortunately they had purchased only a couple of my books and the group took turns reading the few copies. In April I have another book chat scheduled with another book club, from another town. I asked if they had enough books and the caller said they were sharing the book. As a librarian I suggested if they didn't want to purchase a book, they could borrow a few from their town library. I believe this to be the next best thing to a sale and keeps my books in circulation. The caller didn't think this was necessary. I continued to encourage her to stop at her local library any way. Hopefully she will.
I realize the economy has slowed impulsive buying to nearly nonexistent. Profit for the writer is becoming more challenging. The group I mentioned above were very enthusiastic about discussing the plot of my book Memories Trail. They were eager to take my book marks and business cards and I hope my press information doesn't end up in a junk drawer but in the hands of friends and family with a comment or two about "you should read this book."
Money for presenting seems to fall into one of those gray areas of professionalism. All too often, I'm too soft-hearted to say up front I charge for appearances. It's a sticky situation. In the last year presenting at libraries I have been paid and I appreciate that. Talking in front of small groups and book clubs I have not. Somehow I have fallen into a swamp here, wondering how to "get my name out there" and not go broke at the same time. Book clubs seem to be looking for free entertainment and a free book from the author. And of course I left a free book at the senior residence because ... because ... because they wanted one! My stash of free books from my publisher is long gone - this came right out of my pocket. I continue to believe I'm spreading my name this way, but it's difficult to believe when I come home and in my ledger I write mileage 120 miles - no payment and 1 book for $20 - no payment. My accountant thinks I'm running a charity and not a business. He's right of course. This doesn't feel like a business when I'm the only one spending money. At book signings and other outings I have my prices posted and I have tried this at book club gatherings, but it doesn't seem to work the same.
I've been spending money on my writing from the get-go; I'm not afraid to spend money in order to make money. However, in this tight economy I'm giving more than I'm getting right now and I wonder how long can I continue on this path of no-profit again today? It's become a conundrum; how can I sell my books if I'm not out promoting them? How can I promote my work if I don't receive any payment for my efforts?
Do you accept invitations without pay? Has that worked for you? Share your experiences with us at Acme Authors.
Til next time ~