Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do You Give Your Books Away?

I have spoken with many fellow authors about whether or not they believe in giving away sample copies of their books. The results seemed to fall equally on both sides of the fence. The main reason cited for not giving away books seems to be that “if someone is genuinely interested, they should at least be willing to cover the cost of the book”. Also heard a few times was, “my books are not free to me, so why should they be free to others.”

On the other side of the fence, I have had a number of very large sales that were direct results of my freebies. Two days ago I visited a major bookstore that did not have my books on the shelf. (The books are in the computer, but were not in that particular store.)I asked the manager if she would be interested in ordering a few books and said that I would be happy to come back when the books are in to sign them. I then handed her a copy of each of my three books (along with my contact information and some bookmarks) and told her that they were a gift to her to acquaint her with the books. I also suggested that she might use them as display copies to generate interest in the books. Two days later I received a call from the manager saying that she did display the books and then she read them during storytime. She also held a drawing in the store, using the books as prizes. She thanked me for sharing the books with her and asked me to please stop by in a few days to sign the 30 books that she had ordered for her store. In addition, she requested a book signing which we scheduled that day. All this from three sample books.

The same day I dropped off three books in an upscale children’s boutique. I introduced myself to the owner and gave her the books “as a gift, to acquaint her with the books” which I assured her would enhance the already wonderful gift selection in her store. This time it was only one day before she called to place an order for her store.

I also give free books to my close friends and relatives. They have turned out to be quite vocal when it comes to sharing my books with their friends and relatives, resulting in many, many sales.

A few guidelines that I use:
Just don’t be too free with your freebies. I give away only one of each book to each customer.

Don’t take the books back. If a store manager decides not to purchase books, I never go back to reclaim my books. I told them they were a gift. Let them keep them or sell them. You never know what will come of it.

Be sure to leave your contact information. This means a professional business card or colorful postcard, not a scribbled cell number on a scrap of paper.

Be sure to follow up. While people mean well, many need a friendly reminder.

Don’t forget to ask your tax professional if you are entitled to a tax deduction for the free books.

Good luck.
Bobbie Hinman

1 comment:

Hannah said...

I'd love to do some marketing for you in the Chicagoland area if you want to send a few copies this way. :) What age are these best for? With Ian in 1st grade I have access to a whole elementary school (plus Jesse's pre-school).