Mark Terry

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't Think About It Too Much

November 11, 2009
For you aspiring writers or soon-to-be-published novelists, pay close attention to this. For you who have been published, let me know your thoughts.

As some of you may know, the local newspaper ran an article about my novel writing lately. I followed it up with some other local stuff. When I went into the bank yesterday one of the cashiers wanted to buy my books, so I brought a box in and she bought three and another cashier bought two, and they told me to come back on Thursday when another of the bank employees would be in who had already expressed an interest in my books. Very gratifying.

I also send out numerous e-mails to local band parents. I'm the "voice" of the band program in some ways as the Band Booster secretary. After the article a number of people expressed surprise and interest in my books. So in my last email I threw in a link to my website and told them thanks for the interest, if you're interested in my books, contact me. A couple have, although it's been impossible to close the deals, assuming there are any to be closed.

Last night was a Band Booster meeting so I took a box of books, just for grins, and told people I had them there and would sell them at a discount. One of my friends who I've known since well before being involved in BB, bought two. The band director bought one.

No one else did.

Let me make it completely, totally, utterly clear: I am extremely grateful to ANYONE who shells out their money for my books. That includes many of you. Thank you, thank you.

The point of this, and I view it as an object lesson, is that sometimes, when we talk about publishing, we make comments about how the only buyers of your books will be your family and friends.

Uh-huh. Here's the bad news. Not all your family or friends will buy your books.

Not everybody reads. Not everybody would consider buying a book, they'll go to the library. (I love libraries, but there isn't a novelist in the U.S. who can make a living by only selling to libraries). Some people may actually assume that if YOU wrote it, it must be bad. Or they're just not interested. Or maybe there's some jealousy involved. I don't know. Or... whatever.

And vice versa, you know. Some family and friends can be wildly supportive. My brother and sister have been very supportive (although I give them copies of my books), as has a couple of other relatives, like my niece Sara and my cousin Bill. (Hell, Bill's practically a one-man sales force. When my books appeared in the past he'd go to the local Borders, buy up all their copies to give to friends and family, then tell the store to order more. A thousand more people like him and Dan Brown had better watch out).

But some good friends don't, for whatever the reason.

And you really shouldn't get your feelings hurt about this, you know. It's hard not to sometimes, but people don't care about your books the way you do. I can't possibly express the number of times I've talked to friends and neighbors and I mention my books and they express interest, but never buy the book. Or even a couple friends and/or neighbors who I've given a book to as a gift who then never read it.

The fact is ... well, people are weird. At least compared to writers (how's that for irony). The fact is, people have their own lives and tastes and everything else.

Well, either that or I'm just not that likable.

Either way, I think you should just value your friends and family for who they are without judging them on whether they buy your books or not.

But don't think too much about it. Just accept it.

Mark Terry


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

LOL! Friends are not to buy my books, nor is family. Family gets them for Christmas, whether they like it or not, and friends are told that if you reeeaalllly want to read my kink, which most don't, then I'll send them to them.

There are lots of friends whose books I don't buy, at least in the last couple years, because I know a lot of writers and I just can't afford it. Just another reason I don't believe in marketing to writers.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

OMG!!!!!!!!! So true. I have a couple of cousins who read everything I write. I have one who refuses because she says I write "garbage" (because there are curse words, not the writing itself). This is someone who has known me since birth. I have one cousin who doesn't read. His girlfriend reads all my books.

In my circle of friends, I have a few who have read everything, but a vast assortment will say, "One of these days, I will have to read you."

And generally, the Barbie Moms don't read me. But that's because I KNOW they don't like me.

Oddly enough, middle grade fiction means a lot more people read me because they like buying me for their kids and saying they know me.


8:56 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

If I were writing erotica I wouldn't let my friends and family read it either.

As for marketing to writers, oh boy. Probably a topic for another day, but when you start doing group signings and/or conferences, it can get ridiculous pretty fast. When I started doing it I didn't know what to do and bought a lot of books I never got around to reading. Yeah, I want you guys to buy my books, and I'll try to buy your books, but you'll go broke in a hurry buying books of all your writer friends, and vice versa. I might politely respond, "Oh, I already ordered it," or "I got a review copy," which often enough is the truth.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, when I was working on some MG fantasy I'd get people who weren't remotely interested in my adult work say they'd be interested in buying anything I got published for kids. I'm afraid that there are a lot of people who say they're too busy to read themselves, but insist their kids read. I think that's okay, but, you know, "do as I do, not as I say" etc.

9:06 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm always surprised and delighted when friends read my stuff. I'm still in that category, not in the category of expectation. Maybe someday...

9:17 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I dream of the day this becomes an issue for me. But I see your point and heed your advice.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I practically never read books by people I know. My tastes are weird and I might not like a friend's book and then what? For the same reason, while I am grateful that someone I know buys and reads the books Mary and I write I don't try to push books on people. I don't want people to feel they should read them, or worse yet, should like them. For one thing, if you don't like historical mysteries you won't like them, and even if you do, they may not be the sort of historical mysteries you like. This sort of thing can make for an uncomfortable situation. I get the impression that my family doesn't think much of the books, actually. I don't ask. Why put them on the spot?

11:49 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Well, Eric, I don't really like historicals, but I like yours. Go figure. But you're right. I don't want anybody to feel uncomfortable around me, whether they've read my books or not.

I suppose it's rather like hanging out with some of my friends who work for Chrysler. I don't really want to tell them the reason I'll probably never buy a Chrysler is the same reason the company's going broke--their quality sucks. Then again, my first car was a Dodge and I was pretty happy with it.

11:54 AM  

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