Giving it Away Is Great
I guess I always knew that it really was better to give than to receive but recently I have been reminded yet again of the power of this simple action. When I published my second book, "The Walker on the Cape", my first full book of fiction I was a little fearful of what the reaction would be for this work in the great wide world. This was a stretch for me. I have been comfortably writing about work and workplaces for the last fifteen years and I had already published a self-help book on this topic which was generally well-received.
I had written a few short stories, mostly for myself that I shared with family and a couple of close friends but now I was out there in a genre, mystery and crime, that had many, many excellent writers, and just as many ardent critics. I feared that my work wouldn't be seen as worthy to share the same bookshelves as these other authors, and that readers would see me as a fraud or a charlatan. With the active support of my life partner and children I finally took the plunge, got a publisher and set my little paper boat off on its voyage.
Having been through the publishing process once I at least knew the ropes and where to submit my work to try and get attention but something inside of me suggested a different approach that trying to cajole a handful of influential editors and reviewers to recommend my book. I would still do that but in addition it came to me that I should give my book away. Not all of the copies, obviously, my family and I still had to eat, but to give away copies of "The Walker on the Cape" to a number of people without asking a lot in return.
So when my book came out I decided to purchase an extra 100 copies of my book at the discounted author's price and to give them away. 25 copies to the usual suspects of book reviewers and editors as usual, but the other 75 I decided to give to friends, family and even to some strangers. To this second 75 I asked only that they read the book. If they liked it they could tell me. If they really liked it they could buy another copy and give it as a gift to a friend.
The most interesting thing that happened next was the reaction of the "non-business" people who received the book. My family were of course grateful to receive the book without a lot of conditions and pleadings to buy as many copies as possible. My friends, some of whom I had not seen in a long time were happy to receive the book and almost every single one contacted me to tell me that. Many of them immediately bought another copy and one person bought five so that he could repeat the magical experience with five others.
The hardest books to give away were the ones that I set aside to give people who I knew could not afford to buy them. Many did not want to admit this and I respect that. I was just trying to give a gift and perhaps they were not used to that in their day to day lives. I have decided to give the last few copies I have left to local libraries whom I'm hoping can make them available and free to more members of the public.
All in all this is and was a fabulous experience. Out of a small decision that I do not take credit for coming up with I have received smiles, thank you's, encouragement and love. No amount of money could have bought this and it came about just because I decided to give something away. It truly is better to give than to receive.