I’m not going to kid myself, the title looks pretty selfish. As the writer of one novel (and more to come), why wouldn’t I be campaigning for readers to spend the $9.99 or $12.99 to buy a copy of my book? I assure you, my cause is more noble than that; allow me to explain:
If you follow along with my sparsely-populated twitter (and you should–I’m doing a giveaway this month for all new followers) or my more active Wattpad account, you’ll know that tonight I’m going to be removing all but the “sample” chapters of The Color of Darkness from online. It’s been available for free for exactly six months now (which I feel is ample time to have read it–and plenty of people have. Thank you!) and it’s time to retire it to the online sellers and the odd bookstores that were brave enough to buy up a stock.
When I originally decided to make it free, via Wattpad, for half a year, I genuinely wanted everyone and anyone who might want to read the cobbled words of an under-educated logophile to be able to do so without a hitch. Now, after months of checking weekly sales and trying not to get too hopeful, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing that I can do to help except for convince you that buying a book–not just my book–is an applaud-worthy undertaking, especially in the Age of Information such as we live.
As a novelist, I suppose I should consider myself an artist. I create not only for the sake of creation itself, but for the sake of people who enjoy creation. I have never–and will never–consider my art as a source of income. In fact, (and this is simply my own opinion) I believe that any artist that creates for the sake of monetary gain is not actually an artist, but a business person. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with making money from art, but we cannot confuse business and art. Art exists for the reader, for the listener, for the taster, for the looker, and for the feeler… far less for the artist themselves. True artists are givers.
When you buy something from an artist (a true artist), what you are really doing is paying forward a good deed. When an artist can pay their bills with the art they create they find that they can spend a lot more time creating that very art you enjoy! Buying a painting will pay for the charcoal of the next sketch, or the coffee that keeps the artist up past midnight, or the roof over the painter’s head. Buying a record will help pay for the production of the next… so on, so forth.
Buying a book is no different.
I have a steady job that pays my bills and takes care of my family; I will not cup my hand and grope for coins I don’t need! I have no illusions about living from book sales or quitting my job to write full time. It’s simply not going to happen. I write in my free time and that’s the way it will stay for many years, I imagine. I’m not going to lie; money is tight in my house, as it is in countless houses across the world. In light of that, any and all income from my books fund three simple things: more books, better books, and more readers.
When you buy a paperback copy of TCOD, I get something to the tune of $3.00. When you purchase an eBook, it’s more like $6.00. As you can see, I’m not exactly raking in the cash there; every little bit helps. When I get that royalty money, I set it aside to use to advance one of my three causes. Sometimes, the money goes to pay for more copies of my own novel (I get them at a discount, thank goodness), which I donate to local schools and libraries. Sometimes it goes to ordering advertising face-sheets to mail to more schools, libraries, and bookstores, in the hopes that they will procure copies to distribute themselves. Sometimes the money goes to purchasing the items I give away, trying to get readers involved in and excited about what I have to share. Those are the ways in which I accomplish “more books” and “more readers.”
“Better books” is a tad more tricky.
Were I to find that, suddenly and unexpectedly, my novels were generating enough income that I couldn’t possibly spend it on giveaway copies and promotion materials, I some day hope to focus on the final goal: better books. I never had the privilege of going to college; life called me to a harder path (a path I am very thankful for, nonetheless) and therefore feel my writing skills aren’t as honed as they could be. I also work A LOT (fifty to eighty hours a week sometimes), which doesn’t afford me a lot of time to read or advance my education. I also have many monetary responsibilities that make it difficult to travel, which is especially hard because nature and natural wonder are huge themes I love to write about. That all being said, I know I will someday write the proudest novels of my career when I have the time and means to travel, learn, and live the words that I will put down on paper. I can’t wait for those days!
In conclusion, I’d simply like to remind you to support art. Support the wonder of the world and the joy of creation! It doesn’t have to be my creation. Buy a painting from the street artist. Toss a five in that guitar case. Go to an art museum, attend a food festival! No matter what it is, you’re paying forward a happiness and a passion that is irreplaceable. At the same time, remember that art is for you. That’s why we do what we do: to share what we love with the people who love it just as much.
So, go out there and buy a book… especially if the author is alive!