Saturday, March 14, 2015

When you want to read a book but can't find it

I get quite a few notes that say something along the lines of:

I love your books SO much and I really want to read _______________ (insert book title there), but I can't find it at my library or bookstore. I would be so happy if you could send one to me please. Please, it would really mean a lot to me.

Okay, first of all, THANK YOU for reading and enjoying my books. I am really glad they've brought you joy. I truly am.

me being happy and saying thank you


You knew there was going to be a but, right?

This is a little bit like if you live in Idaho and you see a dog you LOVE and you ask where the owner got it and she says she got it from a breeder in Maine. And so you go home and email the breeder and ask if she can send a puppy to you in Idaho, please, because you love their dogs SO much and there's no way you can find one in Idaho, but you really, really want one!

I suppose I can see why maybe people might think I can send books to people, since there are a couple of myths floating around out there that go something like this:

a) all authors are rich, and
b) authors get loads and loads of their books for free, because, after all, they wrote them

So let me debunk these myths right here and right now.

First - all authors are not rich, unfortunately. A few of the very well-known ones who've sold millions of books and have movies out and all of that are indeed rich. But most authors have a day job because they don't make enough money writing and selling books to live on. Also, many authors struggle to pay their bills every month because the way we get paid is SUPER crazy.

Traditionally published authors get checks for royalties (a percentage of book sales) twice a year. Think about that for a minute. The majority of people in America get paid every two weeks for their work, or once a month at the least. But not authors. Authors only get paychecks twice a YEAR. But what's even crazier than that is we have absolutely no idea how much those paychecks will be. They might be $10.00, they might be $10,000. We do not know, because the publisher is in charge of keeping track of sales.

What determines how much those checks will be? How many books we sell, through library and school sales, through bookstore sales, through e-book sales, and through on-line retailer sales.

You can imagine how exciting (but also terrifying) it is to get that paycheck every six months. But if I give a bunch of books away? Guess what!? I am missing out on sales that could be in that paycheck that helps feed my family and keeps a roof over our heads.

Second - authors get loads and load of our own books for free.

Nope. We don't. Each contract states how many we get. Standard number, I'm pretty sure, is twenty-five copies. Once I've given those copies away, I have to buy the books like everyone else.

Okay, then, so what do you do if you want a book and you can't find it in the store or at the library?

ASK. Please don't ask the author, ask the book store or library to order a copy for you. They are in the book business. Authors are not in the book business - authors are in the WRITING business.

This is me, writing. Or agonizing. Probably both.
If you don't have a book store or library near you, there are lots of online retailers, besides the big one everyone knows about, who can mail you a book right to your house!

Powell's books ships throughout the United States.
The Book Depository ships world wide.

The other reason it's so important for you to ASK if you can't find a book, rather than give up or email the author for a free copy, is because the publisher needs to make money on the book too. If the publisher loses money, guess what, that author may have trouble publishing books in the future. I am not joking when I say that for some authors (like me, ahem ahem) EVERY sale counts.

Let me be clear:
I love writing.
I love books.
I love it when people, especially kids and teens, love books and want to read more of my books.
I wish I could give every one of my readers free books.
But I also wish I could give homeless people homes and all of the hungry pets food and every child in the world an education.
I am one person who does what she can every day to make the world a better place, but like every other person, I can't do everything I'd like, you know?

My job is to show up on writing days and write the best book Lisa Schroeder can write. I can wish and hope and love things to the moon and back, but the writing is my job and I will continue to do my best as long as my books sell and make some money for me and my publisher.

But the second part of that equation isn't really up to me, is it? :)

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