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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why Should I Give it Away? (Claire Youmans)

There’s an old blues song about a chair. It’s a double-entendre, as blues songs often are, and very funny. The refrain goes, “If I can’t sell it, I’m going to sit right here on it. I ain’t going to give it away.”

Lately, as I start working on the next marketing push around Book Three, which will come out mid-summer, I have noticed ever so many articles, classes, webinars, books and so on being pitched that will enable me to give away more and more of my books. I can even pay them to help me do this! People are seemingly thrilled that they GAVE AWAY tens, hundreds and even thousands of books — something they think they could not have managed without paying, and something they think is a worthy goal.

This morning, I wondered, “Why would I want to do that?”

We’re back to the “exposure” question here, aren’t we? These efforts to separate me from my money talk about building a mailing list, getting my books in front of their particular audience, and potentially, maybe, developing word of mouth. Exposure, in other words.

Do I really want to pay for the chance to give books away? I doubt it. I can do a giveaway on my own, and I will certainly do so at the launch, along with a sale thereafter. I have nothing against giveaways, but my goal isn’t to give away books except as a teaser. A giveaway is an ad, and the cost of giving away samples is part of the cost of the ad. I do have a mailing list, and it continues to grow. At least I know those people are actually interested. I have been reading these items to understand what’s out there that might work for me. I don’t see a connection to my audience, and I rarely see a connection to sales.

If I am going to pay for “exposure,” I want it connected with a review — something I can use to promote sales — and that will be published in a forum that’s probably more closely connected with my readers. I consider the “exposure” a bonus, but there will be a real quid-pro-quo. My goal is to sell books, not give them away.

I’m not in favor of “exposure” for its own sake. I suspect beyond a reasonable doubt that much of this “exposure” exposes itself to the recycle bin. The bigger the name, the more it promises to send out a color glossy catalog including MY books, the more it promises to send that out to (long list of busy people, like teachers, librarians, agents, publishers), the more certain I become that these color glossies and pretty emails are almost invariably tossed without being read. “Exposure” doesn’t matter unless your work is “exposed”.

Before paying out money for anything, be sure you know what, exactly, is being sold. Make sure that what’s being sold is connected with your goals and will help you reach them. A giveaway might be right for you as an author, but make sure it goes to the right people and is done at the right time. Make sure the goal isn’t to see how many books you can give away or how many people you can add to your mailing list, but how that connects with creating actual sales, a real audience for your work. When you look at testimonials, look at the books! Look at the audience! Make sure the fit of anything you buy is right for you and your book.

Giveaways aren’t all bad, but giving it away isn’t your goal. Is it?

Also check out Claire's blog and FB page and available books here:

Facebook:  The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Toki-Girl-Sparrow-Boy-Claire-Youmans/dp/0990323404/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

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