Lazy authors shouldn’t count on others to make sales

Being a writer is no easy task. Most of the time, you have to put in the time and the effort to give your story life, but the work doesn’t end there, especially if you self-publish. Once the story is in the pipeline for printing, you have to promote yourself, market yourself and be your own cheering section when it comes to telling people why they should be buying your book.

Most of the time, I’ve been a one-man band when it comes to selling my book locally. I’ve been working at getting involved with local festivals and selling my work to folks out having a good time and hopefully holding some disposable income in their wallets or purses. I feel it’s important to put myself out there if I hope to build readership.

What I don’t feel is that I should plop some books on other authors’ tables and expect them to make money for me. I wish I could say the same for another author.

The most recent festival I sold my books at was this past weekend, the Shawano Folk Music Festival. My first day was a stunning success. The second day, not so much, as attendance was somewhat lower. I was there both days with another author who, like me, was part of the Shawano Area Writers.

Part of the second day was a workshop that the Writers facilitated, and after the workshop, one of the participating authors wanted to include her work on my table. I had the room, so I figured I could share the space with her. However, she had another idea. She wanted her stuff to share the space, but she didn’t want to stick around and sell the books herself.

Several things wrong with this. First, she assumed I was willing to help her out at the drop of a hat, which is not the case. Second, she assumed I knew enough to properly sell her books, which is also not the case. Third, she assumed I was there to help her make money, and that was truly not the case.

If you want other people to sell your work, you should make some kind of agreement with them. You don’t just waltz into a bookstore, plop a dozen books on the counter and walk out, expecting to get a payday down the line once the books sell. They expect you to sign some contract on the dotted line. It’s just poor etiquette to try to pull that with other authors.

I sat out in the park for two days, talking with people and earning their trust in order to earn my pay. This other author expected to do a drive-by and ride off into the sunset. If you want someone else to do the grunt work, hire someone or get published with a publishing company where there are paid employees to do it for you. Most authors are struggling to make their living, so you shouldn’t expect them to skip out on a few dollars just so you can benefit.

If this author, or any other author, decides to use me as slave labor again, one of three things will happen:

⏵ I will say no. This option will happen if I’m in a good mood.

⏵ I will sell the books and keep the money.

⏵ I will give the books away as freebies.

I’m very supportive of other authors. I’m willing to help where I can, from providing input to helping edit and publish a book I believe should be read. However, I draw the line at being someone else’s support system when they won’t make an effort to support themselves. I’m nobody’s slave.

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