Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't buy my book (Unless you want to)

I know this pitch sounds like the epitome of reverse psychology marketing, but I’m sincere when I say, if you don’t want to buy my book… don’t.

I think books should be like toasters. You want a toaster because it serves a purpose. To deliver delicious, yummy, gooey poptarts, strudels, or warmed bread on a cold morning or just whenever you want a damn piece of toast. It must work, and you must enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s just a hunk of metal taking up counter space where you could have something you really want, like a waffle maker or a Fry Daddy.

I feel the same way about books. If a reader isn’t enjoying reading a book, they have every right not to read it. (Literature majors, you are excluded this right. Go finish Billy Budd and stop whining.) But even more so, if they know that some genre/topic/era isn’t for them, they shouldn’t feel obligated to buy the book just because the author wrote it. Now I’m not saying don’t try something new -- I’ve been to book signings initially believing I would not enjoy the book the writer wrote only to have a new favorite author a few weeks later. I’m open minded. But if nothing − the cover, the blurb, the author’s philosophy/promo manners − makes me tick, I have no use buying their book if I’m not going to even read it, let alone enjoy it.

I’m not saying I think my book sucks and I’m protecting you and me from a heap of embarrassment by saying don’t read it. Contraire. I happily invite any book club that wants to rip my book to shreds with scrutiny of what makes an enjoyable read and give me the good, bad, awesome and putrid. (You think I’m joking, but book clubs can be vicious.)

What I’m saying is I wrote a historical time travel concentrating on the Underground Railroad in Nebraska and not everyone is going to be into that premise. If you do enjoy that premise, and like a little mystery and more character development, then I’ve taken my time and written you a good story and I hope you enjoy it. If you think you might be interested, by all means, check it out. But if you’re looking at the cover with a tombstone and an 1851 pistol wondering “Where’re the zombies?” wait until my next book. There will be zombies.

Sales don't matter as much to me as readers. I have a pile of books that I haven’t read, but felt obligated to buy at the time because the author gave me that sad, longing “you don’t support the arts unless you buy my book” look as they held out their blood-and-guts ink-and-paper baby to me and I caved. Really, it does no one any good, and I don’t want to be that author.

So there you have it. Seven years, a billion (give or take) drafts and read throughs, and if it’s not your thing, I’m cool with that. If it is your thing, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Let me be your toaster. I won’t let you down.


Print book cover. No, the dead people in the cemetery do not rise and conquer. Well, not the way you're thinking.

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