Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why I do what I do...

...with books, my website, but mostly why I give away books.

This is for Chris, who is the reason I'm writing this. You know who you are.

I love books. I love to read, always have, since I was 2 years old. Yes, 2 - no snotty comments please or I'll be forced to have my mother call you and brag about me. Trust me, you don't want that.

I started my website when I was working for Borders as a way to keep track of the books I'd read, and the books I wanted to read. The Hachette Book Group, who was Time Warner books at the time, before they became AOL Time Warner, then went back to TW then became who they are now, were the publishers who got me started giving away books. They asked if I would mind giving away their books, and I was thrilled to do it.

Working for Borders was my first experience in getting free books, advance reader copies for the most part, and as an avid reader, what could be better! Since I loved getting free books, I figured other readers would too and I've given away thousands of books in the past 9 years.

As the site has grown, so have the contests and it began to take a lot of my time, basically most of my "free time". Often I found myself stealing time from work, from school, even from my family to take care of handling all the free book stuff. At the suggestion of a writer who is also a marketing genius, (thanks, MJ) I hesitantly started charging a small fee to run these contests on my website.

I am not a business person. I hate asking people for money, and I really, really hate chasing people for money. Which brings me to my sad tale of woe.

I not only do these contests for publishers, but also for independent publicists and authors whose publishers don't think web promotions are a good idea (yes, there are still some out there) or whose publishers don't have the budget, or authors who just want to do a little more to help promote themselves.

I met an author at the first ThrillerFest convention who had just landed a contract for his first book. He wanted to pick my brain a bit, but we kept missing each other and eventually just exchanged a few emails. A year later, his book was being published and his independent publicist (not the one assigned by his publisher but someone he hired on his own) arranged a book giveaway for my readers. This author, like many (most?) thriller writers, is a lawyer.

I ran the promotion last summer. There were well over 1500 entries, a very respectable number.

The author never paid my bill. He never paid the publicist for several other promotions she had arranged for him. In fact, she told me in the almost 20 years she'd been in the business, she'd never had problems with an author like she had with him, to the point of embarrassment. Oh, and he never sent out the books to the winners of the promotion I did for him either. Luckily, his publicist is a woman of honor and she sent them out at her own expense - not reimbursed, I'm sure.

Am I going to sue a lawyer for my piddly little fee? Hardly. The court costs, even in small claims court, would probably be just about what I would collect. Is his publicist going to sue? Doubtful. Sometimes we just have to suck it up and call it a learning experience.

In other words, he is the classic slimeball shyster lawyer, the reason why Shakespeare suggested killing them all, etc. etc.

But I refuse to dump on an entire profession because one guy shit on me. I know too many really nice guys who happen to be lawyers. I've dealt with probably a hundred lawyers-turned-authors who have treated me with nothing but respect and kindness.

But I do worry a bit more when I schedule promotions. Like I said, I hate asking for money, and I really hate asking for it twice.

I'm done venting. Go enter this month's contest- WIN BOOKS

There are a few days left and I am giving aways signed copies of almost all my favorite thrillers from 2007, plus some beautiful coffee table books, the latest Ian Rankin, and more!

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