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View Full Version : Hey, can I get a free copy of your book?



underthecity
11-18-2006, 03:36 AM
Jenna's thread about people wanting us writers to write their stories reminded me of a pet peeve of mine.

For some reason it really irks me when someone finds out I'm an author and they say, "Can I get a free copy of your book?" This has happened before, and I usually say something like "They're at bookstores."

Do you other authors get this question? How do you handle it? I mean, what do they expect, that I carry spare copies of my books crammed up my behind, waiting for someone to ask for one? Someone's got to pay for the things, besides (even if it's at my author's discount, but still . . . .).

allen

JennaGlatzer
11-18-2006, 03:46 AM
Wow, psychic guy! I *just* finished a (very short) article for Writer's Digest on this topic.

I don't get that question a lot, but I do get it sometimes, and it's awkward. I mostly just explain that I don't get many free copies, and I've already given them to my family. I think people often assume that authors get free neverending supplies of their own books.

Bartholomew
11-18-2006, 04:32 AM
I wonder why someone would expect this of an author...

How odd.

jpserra
11-18-2006, 04:35 AM
The worst was my family; always bugging me about prereading the galleys and pushing to add things to the content. But the most over the top is my wife, who is dauntless in wanting a copy of my books when they come out. Imagine that. Greedy little thing.

John Serra

Oh, yeah, BTW, yes I do. Frequently. JPS

underthecity
11-18-2006, 06:01 PM
When each of my books came out, I got a boatload of author's copies from the publisher. The bulk of these went to contributors and close family members and certain friends. In fact, all of my extended family last year each got copies of my third book for Christmas.

So, giveaways to some family members, provided I have them on hand, usually isn't a problem.

But it's come up on other occasions with other people. Just bugs me.

allen

Little Red Barn
11-18-2006, 06:15 PM
I would'nt know how to answer that,..but I would just probably stand there and look dumbfounded wishing I had the nerve to turn the tables and say " sure and I'd like to get a free pizza from your company or yes, and how about some new software from your computer store?" I honestly think that sometimes these people don't do it intentionally. kimmi

Serenity
11-18-2006, 06:30 PM
I don't know that I would have the guts to ask this of an author- except for one, and she knows who she is... but that's a different story for another time.

I'm not a published author -yet- but, I have read a few books written by authors here on AW. I've bought every one of them. Heck you all are wonderful, why shouldn't I support that?

And, if I were in just the right mood to be snarky, I might answer: "Well, my brother works at [insert name of electronics store here], would you like me to have him get you one of those big plasma screen HD TV's for free? I'll pass it along with the book."

Sean D. Schaffer
11-18-2006, 07:09 PM
The one work I've ever had published was through a non-legitimate company. I received two author copies for free, and more than two requests for free copies from other people. When I told them they would have to pay for their copies, they were fairly good about it, although there was the occasional "But I'm family" line. I had a terrible time explaining that I only had two free copies, and one was for my own use. Not a fun situation, and somewhat intimidating. At least the majority of those asking responded well to my refusal.

MajorDrums
11-18-2006, 07:47 PM
i wouldn't know how to respond to that. even if the person who asked that didn't intentionally mean any harm, my gut feeling is that this person is being disrespectful. writing is your livelihood for chrissakes.

awatkins
11-18-2006, 07:56 PM
Get this--I've had people contact me asking if I have (or can get for them) copies of other books from publishers I've worked with. Just last week someone e-mailed me a list of titles they'd like to have but can't find anywhere. What the heck???

Just because I've worked with certain publishers does not mean that I automatically get copies of everything they publish--or that I would even know what all they've published! I can't even figure out how anyone would arrive at that conclusion. :Wha:

ChaosTitan
11-18-2006, 08:17 PM
I know, I know!

Someone else posted this on a similar AW thread months ago, so I'm paraphrasing someone else's wit.

"I wish I could, but I'm still just one of the little fish and don't get very many free copies to pass around. Since I'm trying to make a living at this writing thing, every book bought increases my sales and a chance of more free copies of the next book. I'll keep you in mind for that one."

Whether or not you actually keep them in mind is up to you. ;)

Maryn
11-18-2006, 08:17 PM
Amazing chutzpah. I would like to think I'd be able to use one of the clever comebacks that makes the person realize how stupid and/or demanding they're being, but I'm still meek little me and would just say no ever so politely.

Maryn, meek in person, bold online

johnzakour
11-18-2006, 11:03 PM
Part of the problem is people assume writers make tons of money and can easily afford to give away.

I tell people, "I give my copies to family, friends and people who might be able to invest in the movie version. So if you weren't offered a book and you want a book you better be interested in investing in the movie."

Ironically, I run into the opposite problem a lot, people I give books to want to pay me for the books.

maddythemad
11-18-2006, 11:12 PM
Actually, yeah, my dad gets about 20 extra copies from his editor, and he hands them out to anyone who wants one. Usually he makes this big deal of signing them. Lol.

Shweta
11-19-2006, 04:26 AM
What the...?

I have a couple of final-draft or close-to-fial-draft novels by other people on my hard drive, because I've volunteered to proofread. I would never assume that knowing the people (and having the copy) entitled me to not buy the book.

I've been given a free copy of a book (by the author) once. The book is "Where Mathematics Comes From" by George Lakoff and Rafael Nunez, and man, I earned that one. Went over several different early drafts fixing stuff, spent hours on corrections that the publishers then utterly messed up, and then hours again, graded for the class based on it... I was still not expecting to get a free copy, and had in fact already bought one.

Jaycinth
11-20-2006, 10:57 PM
I wonder why someone would expect this of an author...

How odd.
No it isn't. It happens in almost every field. You work retail and a friend asks if you can get a discount for her. You work at a car dealer and a cousin asks for a discount or free accessories. Realestate agents get asked to halve or drop their fees for 'your cousin's ex's son'. And the popular..."Since you're in the band can't you get me in ...free?"

Two years ago I was invited to a party (April 14). The host handed me a beer, then introduced me to his 'friend' who had not yet done her taxes. (Shorten long story)
I printed out 3 extension forms and informed my dear host that next year I'm sending a bill.

Old Hack
11-20-2006, 11:12 PM
I have a friend who writes comedy for TV and film. He once met someone at a party who said to him, "I hear you're a comedy writer. Tell me a joke!"

My friend answered, "No problem. Tell me, what do you do?"

"I work for British Steel," replied the irritating party guest.

"Go weld me a f***ing girder, and then I'll tell you a joke."

I thought it was hilarious.

Kate Thornton
11-21-2006, 12:55 AM
I usually receive 3-4 copies from the publisher - one of these is my "party book" - the anthology I take with me for the editors and all the other authors to sign as a keepsake. The others go to my family, if they want them. I *buy* copies for gifts for friends - and refer almost everyone else to a bookstore. Except the one guy who wrote me such a nice fan letter that I sent him all 3 books gratis. I liked his letter to me.

I really liked his amazed follow-up letter - some things are worth a few bucks! He made *my* day!

CaroGirl
11-21-2006, 12:58 AM
I usually receive 3-4 copies from the publisher - one of these is my "party book" - the anthology I take with me for the editors and all the other authors to sign as a keepsake. The others go to my family, if they want them. I *buy* copies for gifts for friends - and refer almost everyone else to a bookstore. Except the one guy who wrote me such a nice fan letter that I sent him all 3 books gratis. I liked his letter to me.

I really liked his amazed follow-up letter - some things are worth a few bucks! He made *my* day!
Cool story Kate. I admire your generosity and I'm glad you enjoyed the "pay-off". Thanks for sharing.

Elektra
11-21-2006, 03:35 AM
I don't know--it's rude, but in this businessm word-of-mouth is so important, I must be willing to fork one over.

Robin Bayne
11-21-2006, 04:12 AM
It *is* rude, and I tell them that I've already used all my author copies to send to reviewers.

Family will even ask for me to print them out a manuscript copy so they won't have to get the book themselves.

engmajor2005
11-21-2006, 04:18 AM
Some friends of the family are construction workers and mechanics. We've had lots of house repairs and engine work done for no charge; well, maybe we had to buy them dinner or a drink while they were working. Thinking of these people, it would be hard for me to say "No" to anybody asking for a free book.

But, understanding that when that glorious day comes that my novel is in print I will have limited free copies and this is an easily-abused privilege, I would find a tactful way to say no. Probably with the truth:

"I'm sorry. I only received a few author's copies and those went to family and close friends. If I get any more freebies, I'll keep you in mind. In the meantime, if you would like to buy one using my author's discount, I'll order one for you if you can zip the cash my way. And yes, it will be signed."

Exceptions would be kids, preachers, librarians, educators, and attractive women. I would fight tooth and nail for extra free copies in their case.

Shadow_Ferret
11-21-2006, 08:25 PM
Drat. Here I thought this thread was going to tell me how to get my free copy of an underthecity book. :(

Thanks for getting my hopes up.

LeslieB
11-21-2006, 11:22 PM
At least you've only had them ask for a book. I work in a crime lab, and I've been asked if I could get them a skull.

Shadow_Ferret
11-21-2006, 11:35 PM
Cool. Skulls. Wish I knew someone in a crime lab.

RTH
11-21-2006, 11:56 PM
Unless you're Stephen King or Tom Clancy, it's probably a bad idea for a writer to be a wise-a** about it. As the business adage goes, if you p*** off a customer you don't lose 1, but 10.

So we have to smile and be nice when we say no... :rant:

SherryTex
11-22-2006, 02:15 AM
Would love to have this problem, really. Please Dear God, GIVE ME THIS PROBLEM!

My husband practices law and automatically people ask him about wills, estates, legal issues and he has to tell them, "I'm an employment lawyer. I deal with managment, you probably want a general counsel." It's like someone says they're a doctor and you automatically start revealing your medical status, never mind their expertise. It happens in every profession, but courtesy would seem to be the rule of the day if you want them to be a fan.

"I'm flattered, thanks for asking about the book. I'm very proud of it and worked really hard to see it get published." that would probably be sufficient to move the conversation away from the request for a freebie.

Live2Write
11-22-2006, 05:11 AM
I wonder why someone would expect this of an author...

How odd.

Exactly, that's using the words, "starving artist" wayyyy too literally in my book. Er, no pun intended.