In my AMA session, I was asked how many friends have bought copies of Escaping Paradise.
In writer support groups online, I regularly see people complaining about how many friends and family members did not buy their books.
The fact of the matter is, a few friends bought copies, but most have not, and I am FINE with this. I may be in the minority in not being troubled by those closest to me not buying my book. I’ve also had to accept that my view differs because of personal experience and because of my ideas about what a friend or family members responsibilities are in regard to me.
To me, friends are the people who encourage me and celebrate success when it comes. There are also family members who do the same, of course, but we’ll start with friends. Friends have spent month after month listening to me speak of little else aside from whatever book I’m working on. Some have been bombarded with “Can you look at this?” followed by a few paragraphs I’m uncertain about. They’ve been beta readers. They’ve been cheerleaders when I feel like everything I write is trash.
My friends have no obligation to spend money on anything I create, ever. They have even less obligation to buy my books. It’s because of my friends that I finished the first draft! It’s because of my friends that I didn’t give up!
My family has done the same for me. My older daughter is still helping, as she brings her accounting skills to bear so I can keep track of sales and expenses and avoid trouble with the IRS at the end of the year. She’s recruited her husband to help me with reporting so I can track marketing efforts and actually see what is working and what is not.
How self-entitled would I have to be to ask a single one of these generous souls to spend money buying a book that they’ve probably read already, a few times over?
Now, this is where personal experience comes in. I had a friend who wrote a book and was published. I was excited for her, vastly so. I was proud of her effort and determination. I had watched her work for years on her story. I hoped for great things for her.
Once her book was released, I ended up ignoring most of her social media posts because every other post was “BUY MY BOOK!” As time passed, those posts became, “Why didn’t you buy my book!? It’s your fault it’s not selling!”
As a friend to this author, they were hurtful posts. Also hurtful was her insistence, stated directly to me, that I needed to buy her book, personally, if I supported her. I don’t even read the genre to which she published. It’s one of the few genres I have no interest in. It felt like being bullied.
I remembered, very well, how I felt and how this entire mess ended up damaging our friendship.
My friends and family, even if they didn’t help me with my writing and with managing the business end of writing, are too valuable to me to be treated like that.
My fans and readers are too valuable to be subjected to demands, as well.
For the record, I had over 7k readers of the draft version and a few thousand extremely positive comments. To those fans, I still send out the pdf of the original draft. They could be told “Tough luck, buy the book.” But the people who read and commented on the original version are the reason Escaping Paradise exists. I had no confidence in my writing when I started. Now, I have maybe a tiny bit more than is warranted, but I’m no longer missing the necessary faith in myself to complete this project properly.
The most I ask of anyone, friend, family, co-worker, or fan, is that they share the word. No asking anyone to buy the book. Just tell people about it. If you read it and like it, tell a friend or two. Heck, tell all your friends! If you see a post about it, hit the share. Help me tell people that it’s available.
Marketing the book successfully is my job as an indie author, and no one else’s. Marketing successfully means that I draw people in, not drive them away.
There’s a long list of writers out there who need to understand this. I hope I can cast a light on the topic for them. If not, maybe I’ll be able to help aspiring writers avoid ending up alone and unsupported in their journey.