Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Conundrum! by DL Larson

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 ~

DL Larson


Unknown said...

And I thought I was cheap limiting my purchases to mostly mass paperbacks.

Morgan Mandel said...

I do paying and non paying events. Whatever it takes to get my name out there. Look on the bright side. It all makes for great tax deductions.

Morgan Mandel

carl brookins said...

Well, Deb, it's a swamp with many people in there with you. My feeling is that organized groups, like book clubs and libraries, ought to at least cover expenses, if the trip is long or overnight. I've met with no resistance to that concept. Most libraries have "friends" community organizations that can be tapped for such expenses. But yes, those expenses are deductible.

Such events, whether I actually sell at them, I consider good advertising. Long term, it should and I find positive evidence, that it does help build readership. Now I get people saying to me, "I came here to the library when you last appeared (that would be four or five years ago) and I've been buying your books ever since. When's the next one due?"