First off I just have to start with my good news! When I got my book The Pea In Peanut Butter published, I was definitely on cloud nine. Absolutely ecstatic and feeling a little bit like I had just entered a new world. Was this really happening to ME!!?? Well it was and it did.
But now I am sitting on cloud 500! Why? Because my 84 (in a couple of wks) year old mother, who has maculate degeneration and can barely see, along with my oh so talented free-lance editor sister, have written a romance/mystery novel together and just signed on the dotted line to be published! Being a published author has been a life-long dream of both my mother and my sister and now after much hard work, they’re on their way to reaching that wonderful feeling of being published. I couldn’t be happier for them both. Of course, of course, of course I will be sharing the ‘where can I buy the book’ news as soon as it comes out. So be on the lookout!
Also, in the last few months, I have received good news of my own which is four publications in magazines. I have listed them all on my ‘other publications’ tab on this blog.
Lately I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and for a better term, SICK of giving away free books. I feel like that’s all I’ve done lately. Then I came across this great article written by Laura Backes, Publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children’s Writers in their February 2011 issue. I wanted to share this article with all of you for a better understanding as to why authors really do need to giveaway as many free books as it takes. It kind of put a new perspective about that issue in my mind and I hope it does you as well.
Also, if you aren’t a member of the CBI Clubhouse or their blog you may want to think about it. They are both filled with lots of useful tips and even have writing exercises you can practice on.
Below is the article:
Are you one of those people who exercises iron-willed self-control passing the Cinnabon counter at the mall or airport? Maybe you're immune to the scent of warm cinnamon and brown sugar pumped into the air. Perhaps you've trained yourself to look away when confronted with a gooey, buttery roll drizzled with frosting. You're confident that you can walk briskly by, without a chance of caving in.
But what if they're giving away free samples?

A free sample changes the picture entirely. One little bite, what can it hurt? But once you've tried that tasty morsel, you'll know forever after what you've been missing. And it will be much, much harder to walk by the next time you're at the mall.

Businesses of all kinds have long known the wisdom of the free sample. Customers can't yearn for something they've never had, right? So why have writers always been coached to carefully guard their work and never, ever give anything away for free?

I'm not advocating giving away everything. Of course you want to make money at your writing, maybe even make a career out of it. But if you're an unknown author, what makes you think people are going to walk into a bookstore, pluck your book at random off the shelf, and plunk down $15 or $20? Chances are, your future fans are first going to want a free taste.

Free literary samples come in many forms. Traditionally, authors have read excerpts from their book during appearances at book stores, libraries and schools. Book lovers read a few pages of a potential purchase at the store, but that's generally limited to books they're thinking of buying, or books by an author they already know, or books shelved next to those by an author they already know. Ditto for library browsing. And then there's the way most of us find new reading material; a friend loans us their beloved copy, we get a book as a gift, or a co-worker says, "Here, read the first chapter of this novel. You won't want to put it down."

All of the above have one drawback: each method only reaches a handful of readers at a time. But in today's digital age you can make your writing known to thousands—or millions!—of people at once, as long as you don't mind giving some of it away for free. Here are some ideas:

Blog: I'm not advocating posting works-in-progress online, but you can certainly blog about your writing. Remember that your blog is an advertisement for your work, so think of ways it can appeal to the same audience as your book. If you're writing a book about surviving your first year as a teacher, blog about funny classroom anecdotes or moments of inspiration that you'll be elaborating upon in the book itself. Give readers a taste of your writing style and the sensibility you're bringing to your work. Clue them in on the type of material you'll be writing about, and they'll be lined up to buy the finished product
(which you'll be faithfully blogging about up to and after the pub date).

Write for free in areas related to your book: Offer to write free guest posts for blogs or websites that reach the same audience as your book, in exchange for links to your blog and website. Use these guest posts as another way to showcase your writing style, keeping the tone and subject consistent with your book.

Post your first chapter online: You can now sample the opening chapter or two of most ebooks before you buy them. This risk-free shopping has led my family to try out—and purchase—books that we had never heard of. Consider doing the same even if your book only exists in paper format. Many authors post the opening chapter of their book on their web sites, hooking readers so they'll have to buy the book. If you're not self-publishing, be sure to check with your publisher before posting part of your book online.

Sell your first book really cheap: This doesn't technically fall under the "free" category, but comes from the same philosophy. And it's easier to do with ebooks than print (and much easier to do if you self-publish). The point is to practically give away the first book (price an ebook for, say, under $4), just to get your name out there and attract those impulse shoppers. Many ebook retailers have special review sections just for bargain books, giving you a shot at being placed on a "Best Books" list. Then raise the price on book number two. This is especially effective for series, using the first book to drive the audience to the second book. If you've got a publisher, ask about this strategy for the ebook edition of your first book.

Make your OP books available for free: If your first book goes out of print and you get your rights back, consider reissuing it as a free ebook by letting readers download it from your website. Spread the word through your blog and by telling every blogger you know. True fans are book buyers and they'll want to own everything written by their favorite author. If you can raise your author presence by giving away one book, you'll sell more copies of the works you have that are still in print.

Here's the bottom line: If you're a new author, the only tool you have to build a fan base is your first book. Not name recognition, not a big movie deal, not Halloween costumes of your book's characters. And that book has to sell on the strength of your writing. The best way to convince a potential customer that your writing is good is to let them read it. And then they'll tell all their friends.

Thank you to Laura Backes for allowing me to share this article.


  1. Of course ad great big Congrats to your mama. I l just love it. As for the article, I didn't see this one, thank for that. It does help out with the WHY of it. I have been feeling the same way, as I swear I have given out more books than I have sold, okay not that many but there are days. I really enjoyed that article. It helped.


  2. Thanks Courtney... I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

  3. Congratulations to you, your mother and sister, Allyn. These are great news!

  4. Big congrats to your mother and sister on their upcoming publication!!

  5. Thanks Claudine & inluvwithwords!

  6. What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading about the various ways authors can put themselves out there and give the public a sample. :)

    Congrats to you on your publishing success!