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Thread: Book Sharing.

  1. #1
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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    Book Sharing.

    So Rocket Sheep dragged Marianne de Pierres into our new author-forum set up..........and Jacquin thought 'Nylon Angel' sounded like a great book, and so he bought it. And it was, so he bought 'Code Noir' too. And he''l definitely buy book 3, I have no doubt.

    So far so good. He benefited, she benefited.

    But what happened next, I realised today, could be looked at two ways....

    Jacquin told me the book was great. Then he gave his copy to me to read. That's ok, right, cos we live together and no-one expects us to buy 2 copies of the same book? But then I lent my copy to my Mum. Oh, and then my sister. That's three households, 4 readers, and only one copy sold. Made me feel kinda mean to be honest!

    Really, I was just wondering how authors (Marianne in particular!) feel about this book lending culture. Obviously the publicity is great.......but does it gain you as much revenue as you lose?! I'm guessing the publishers hate it....what about the authors?!

  2. #2
    Marianne de Pierres
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    Hi Sammie,

    that's a really interesting question. I'm obviously an avid reader myself so I *totally* understand book lending and do it all the time.

    However, as an author, you do rather hope that people will buy the book. Second best, you hope they'll contact the publishers and say, 'please can we have more!' (gawd was that a hint? - naaah!) Third best you hope they'll badger their library.

    These days I find that I buy, when I can, to support my favourite authors. I also love books so much i just get a great gloaty feeling looking at them in my bookcase. Books I've enjoyed reading are friends, and like Parrish, I try and look after my friends!

    MDP

  3. #3
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    And just to add my tupennerth in, passing them round often generates a 'word of mouth' reaction that hopefully is continued through sales when the next book comes around.

    We've certainly had that happen here at sffworld, I think. Off the top of my head, Steven Erikson, Paul Kearney, Scott Bakker, Matthew Stover (and Mary Gentle! ) not to mention authors like Gary Wassner (I'm sure there's loads more!) and hopefully MDP! have all benefitted from being mentioned round here, because people have bought the books. Usually the global differences mean that people have gone out there and bought new copies,(or loaned them from the library!) though we have had a few passed around.

    The solution might be: show them your copy, tell them how good it is, then make them buy their own!

    Still waiting for his 10%

    Hobbit
    Mark

  4. #4
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    [blatant hint]Obviously I'd be less likely to lend my copies out if they were signed by the author... [/blatant hint]

    J

  5. #5
    Marianne de Pierres
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquin
    [blatant hint]Obviously I'd be less likely to lend my copies out if they were signed by the author... [/blatant hint]

    J
    hah! delighted to Jac.

  6. #6
    Marianne de Pierres
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit
    The solution might be: show them your copy, tell them how good it is, then make them buy their own!

    Still waiting for his 10%

    Hobbit
    Hey, Hobbit, sounds like a plan!
    MDP

  7. #7
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    I feel a little guilty too... but then I figure, the people who are poking around in my bookshelves are too stingy to buy their own books anyway... and some of them are not sf readers and would never hear about Parrish if she wasn't hanging out in my bookshelf.

    BUT I did read something interesting on Jen McVeity's site today, which might work here:

    "...all you have to do to join is to walk into any book store and see that any books by friends or fellow SCBWI members are placed front face out. It also helps to throw a casual word or two to the people behind the counter or in the store browsing. Something like 'That's a great book, I bet it's selling well...' Both here and in the USA informal networks of friends often support each other in this way. It's fun and it often means one more book sold, one more sold..."

    Substitute SCWBI for SFFWorld, of course... and next time you're in the bookstore... do a bit of shelf adjusting and a bit of loud talking.

    I'm sure Marrianne has seen what Richard Harland's fleet of followers have been up to... hiding Black Crusade help messages in other sff titles in bookstores all over the country. I was telling someone about this the other day and went into a book shop and promised to find one... it was in the second book I picked up. Strange and unusual marketing but effective.
    Last edited by Rocket Sheep; April 7th, 2005 at 03:57 AM.

  8. #8
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Sheep
    I feel a little guilty too... but then I figure, the people who are poking around in my bookshelves are too stingy to buy their own books anyway... and some of them are not sf readers and would never hear about Parrish if she wasn't hanging out in my bookshelf.

    BUT I did read something interesting on Jen McVeity's site today, which might work here:

    "...all you have to do to join is to walk into any book store and see that any books by friends or fellow SCBWI members are placed front face out. It also helps to throw a casual word or two to the people behind the counter or in the store browsing. Something like 'That's a great book, I bet it's selling well...' Both here and in the USA informal networks of friends often support each other in this way. It's fun and it often means one more book sold, one more sold..."

    Substitute SCWBI for SFFWorld, of course... and next time you're in the bookstore... do a bit of shelf adjusting and a bit of loud talking.
    That's a great idea, maybe we should have a competition. You've got a digicam right?

    J

  9. #9
    Keeper of the Hikari Radthorne's Avatar
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    Only problem with the "facing the books out" deal is that quite often the book store staff are very aware of who's supposed to be face out and who isn't, so that strategy can backfire if it keeps happening consistently and their shelves are getting messed up... I've had a store buyer tell me that it's one of his biggest peeves, when authors or their friends come in and face the books out. But talking up the books to the staff, now; there's a good idea!

    As for lending - I personally don't have a problem with it, since at the present stage of my writing career word of mouth is far more important to me than sales. I'd rather people be excited enough about one of my books that they want to lend it to a friend (after all, you don't often lend books you hate to friends and family...). Once things reach a "critical mass" for me (if they ever do), then I might feel differently. But for now I'll go for the "more the merrier" approach. "Buzz" is the thing that will keep the nascent career moving forward...

  10. #10
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    "Buzz" is the thing that will keep the nascent career moving forward...
    Career? Gloomy examinations of my bank balance make me think of the word "career" as applied to me in terms of wild horses heading downhill, out of control...

    Aha - so my well-meaning friends have been driving book people crazy... (they regularly report they turn the books out, although I don't ask them to do it). Word of mouth is the thing (unless your publisher invests in some huge publicity campaign), and that means people lending each other books. I'm all for it, personally.

  11. #11
    Marianne de Pierres
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    Hi Kevin and Alison,

    thanks for your thoughts on this.

    A question.

    How effective do you believe an expensive publicity campaign is in comparison to word of mouth?

    MDP

  12. #12
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    I'm no expert on publishing, but I'm sure an expensive advertising/publicity campaign is a great help. (Wouldn't we all love it! ) But thinking that it will work on its own is surely a mistake...it has to be backed up by people actually enjoying the work and telling others. I'm thinking of the huge losses people made on the Star Wars Phantom Menace hype: publicity campaigns don't come much bigger than that one, and it didn't work because the general consensus was that the film was a stinker. Of course, the losses came from over production of stock, and probably actual sales would have been such that you or I would have been over the moon, or at least shopping for our chalets in Limoges; so it's all relative. But still, there are probably lots of instances where overhyping a book has told against it; then the poor book has to live up to the hype, and woe bedtide it if it doesn't.

    Word of mouth is slower and less dramatic and probably also much harder to track. But I'm sure that ultimately it's much more reliable.

  13. #13
    Keeper of the Hikari Radthorne's Avatar
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    At the various convention panels I've been on that have addressed this topic, the consensus has always been that the only constant as far as either a book's success, or an author's overall popularity, is "buzz" or word of mouth (the one thing that is next to impossible to create). You can create noise via hype, as Alison noted, but that's not the same thing as a positive buzz.

    Some amount of publicity is necessary just to make yourself visible, which is harder to do the lower down that one is on the publishing chain. For instance, small presses tend to be invisible to a lot of mainstream publishing players; we can't get reviews in Locus, for example. So it's a bit of a struggle to get the buzz going on any sort of national level. Regionally, an author can at least travel around and try to be physically visible to bookstores and to readers at cons. And of course one can plaster oneself all over the Internet ("Swack! Another 'viewer impression' of Radthorne littered here in MDP's forum...") See how easy that was?

  14. #14
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    Well, as a poet I know all about small presses and marginalised artforms... it is now near to impossible to get poetry books into shops, unless they're mainstream anthologies by mainstream publishers. Consequently, the savvy poetry publishers have moved to the internet and POD technologies, where they create their own networks, and (as many found out with surprise when Faber and Faber sales figures were released a few years ago) often do much better saleswise than mainstream publishers just by tramping the shoe leather. You can get a small but very loyal audience that way. I have to confess, I'm not so good at selling books myself, since I have this deeprooted feeling that poems ought to be free . From my marginal observations, SFF seems to do the same thing, but probably on a larger scale - am I right?

  15. #15
    Keeper of the Hikari Radthorne's Avatar
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    With small press, your numbers are going to start small and stay small, but they may last longer (as long as the press hangs around, at least). And hopefully you don't have to worry about volume one of your trilogy going out of print... But (as Alison well knows, I'm sure) you pretty much have to do all your own promo work. I'm not so good either at actually selling my books to individuals, but I do try to get my name and my books out there, by speaking at cons and the like.

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