Monday, September 14, 2015

Read My Book, Dan

This is my coworker Dan. That's me on the right. We have the same shirt. It's hilarious.

Anyways, yesterday, after a casual water-cooler chat about child soldiers, Dan asked me some questions about my web site WHICH I'VE ANSWERED LIKE FOUR TIMES ALREADY BUT WHATEVER. 

That brought us round to a talk about the publishing biz, and when I told him how much money most authors make off their first books, he laughed out loud. When he realized I wasn't joking, he then proceeded to feel very sorry for me.

Then, because aside from stealing my look he's actually a good guy, he came up with an idea.

"Instead of buying your book, I'm just going to give you $5," he said. "That's more than you'd make off the sale, right?"

"Yep," I answered. "Like $4 more."

"I'm not even going to buy your book then. The day it's released, I'm just going to slip you a five."

Because crying at work isn't an option for career women like me, I laughed heartily and said I would accept his most generous offer. 

But later, while sobbing on the subway like a professional, I got to thinking: Money be damned. I would much rather make zilch off my book and have readers, than make money and have no readers. 

I even worked out a mathematical formula: 

$0 + * *  = : ) 8 <

Or, for all you dum dums out there: 
No Money + Readers = Happy Enough Sideways Emily 
(and yes, I was generous with my cup size up there)

So thanks, Dan, but no thanks. I don't want your charity; I want you to read my novel. And while we're at it, I want you to stop wearing my g-damn shirt!


  1. Emily, I agree with your algorithm! A few other points on this subject:

    --book sales affect other things, from bestseller lists to how likely a publisher is to take on your next book to getting an agent when/if you want one (BookNet knowth all).
    --word of mouth is the most valuable PR. If Dan reads your book and likes it, he might encourage others to do the same. He probably won't be walking around telling everyone how much he had giving you $5. If he convinces 4 other people to buy your book, you've made your $5...and who knows how many people THEY'LL encourage?
    --capitalism: a standard book of fiction takes me, a fairly speedy reader, about 8 hours to read. Say I paid $20 for the trade paperback; that's about $2.50 per hour of entertainment. Cheaper than a movie, and more portable. Dan should get something back on his investment, something like the joy of reading your book.

    I could go on...I'm a big fan of people buying books!!!

    1. Look at us, Rebecca! Writers doing math! :)
      You're right. Dan really is going to get a lot of joy out of reading my book.
      You hear that, Dan??? My Book = Your Joy

  2. This is great, Emily. And also terrible. And I agree. I have about 25 copies of my book making my bookshelf look pretty. I'd really like to find a way to get them into the hands of people who like to read, but people are already suspect of stuff they find at the bookstore or library. "Is this any good? Are other people reading this? Are too many people reading it now, and it won't be cool to read this?" Imagine trying to hand it out for free? "What's wrong with it? What's wrong with you? What's going to happen to me if I accept? Aaaah. Free literature. Get away!"
    Also, the shirt looks better on you!

    1. You're so right, Erin. People are wary of free literature. Maybe that's why Catholicism never took for me. I never trusted all those complimentary bibles.