Conversations I Did Not Have This Weekend

Me: Hello Herr Scheiber, we’d like a firewood delivery before the winter sets in.

HS: Of course. Is Monday morning OK?

Me: Perfect. By the way, we won’t be paying this time. Have a nice day.

 

Me: Could I book a hair appointment on Friday?

Hairdresser: Cut and blow dry?

Me: Yeah and quid pro quo.

HD: Quid what?

Me: Look, you cut my hair for nada and I tell all my friends how fab you are.

 

Me: Two tickets for Blade Runner 2049, please.

Cinema Employee: Where would you like to sit?

Me: Up the back and for free.

CE: Sorry?

Me: Well, I’m not sure if I’ll like it. But if I do, I’ll give it a great review. Oh and while I’m here, I’ll have the medium nachos with cheese sauce.

Conversations I Did Have This Weekend

Potential reader: Is your series available on iBooks?

Me: Sure, they’re available everywhere. Here’s the link.

PR: But these books aren’t free.

 

Website query: We’d like to read your book for our bookclub.

Me: Fantastic! Would you like me to send some bookclub questions?

WQ: That would be great! Could you also gift us 10 copies (e-books, not paperbacks, obviously!)

 

Casual acquaintance: My wife wants to read your books.

Me: OK, here’s a postcard which tells you where to buy them.

CA: You can’t just give her a copy?

You’ve all heard the Picasso quote – but if not, it’s at the end of this post.

I get slack-jawed in disbelief when people expect creatives to work for free – or more often – for the “exposure”.

I’ve done my time. University degree, years of teaching and learning, self-study and quite a few failures along the way.

Then a group of people (more on that next week) showed me how to improve and find a voice, a character and a style. I spent four years honing my first book, distilling all those years of craft and education it took to get to that stage.

So the next step is to give it away?

No.

Before I published my first book, I promised myself two things: Never free, never exclusive. If I don’t value my work, why would anyone else?

Each of my e-books costs less than a cup of coffee. My paperbacks cost less than two birthday cards. Both will last a lot longer. I appreciate I’m also asking for your time and trust.

All of us readers approach a new book with anticipation and trepidation. You’re about to give me hours of your life – use them well

But if you value the hours of effort and skill that goes into keeping readers entertained, why would you expect all that for free?

Herewith the oft-quoted and possibly apocryphal Picasso anecdote:

Picasso is sketching at a park. A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. A few minutes later, he hands her the sketch. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him. “5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is outraged as it only took him five minutes. Picasso says: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

 

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frsw-2

Last weekend, I tried three things I’d never done before.

I did not regret any of them. (More of that later.)

Your challenge this weekend , should you wish to accept it, is to try something new.

It’s a risky business, choosing what to read.

So what if I were to tell you we’ve hand-picked a dozen books we think you’ll like. And to prove our confidence, you can have them for free.

All of them or pick the ones you fancy. There’s something for everyone.

 frsw-1

 

Adventure, historical fiction, short stories, drama, laughter, romance, mystery, heart-racers and heart-melters.

Strong women, passionate women, courageous women, clever women, mysterious women and smart women.
Best of all, you don’t actually have to be a woman to enjoy this opportunity.

Free Reads for Smart Women

Find out more about each exceptional book in this two-minute video:

 

As for my adventures?

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I had a go at parkour (good fun but bruising), took an exam in Italian (passed by the seat of my pantaloni) and ate a persimmon (previously put off by the name Kaki fruit).

 This weekend, I shall be reading, eating Mexican food and deciding on a title for Book 6.
Have a great weekend!

 

Herewith the oft-quoted and possibly apocryphal Picasso anecdote:

Picasso is sketching at a park. A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. A few minutes later, he hands her the sketch. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him. “5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is outraged as it only took him five minutes. Picasso says: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

As an author, I’m anti-frees. I spent years honing each of my books, not to mention the years of craft and education it took me to get to publication stage. You want all that – gratis?

booksnake

Book Snake by Alan Levine (Creative Commons)

Before I even pressed the publish button, I promised my novels two things: Never free, never exclusive. If I don’t value my work, why would anyone else? And I feel the same way as Dorothy Parker regarding eggs.

Things have changed. According to better-informed observers, the ‘free’ phenomenon no longer works in terms of connecting books to readers. It had its moment, filling up e-reading devices with the unread, unreviewed and undervalued. That strategy of luring the reader into your series proved to be largely a myth as many never bothered to read the first one. Some who downloaded and read freebies left poor reviews, reflecting how little worth a free book holds.

Pulp fiction.

But I want to address this issue as a reader, not a writer.

I just had a cleansing cull of my Twitter feed, deleting all those who post largely FREE!!!! announcements and constant book promotion.

Because…

I do not want your new free book.

I will not read, I will not look.

If I dig down the back of the sofa and root about in the corners of my handbag, I can probably come up with three quid. An e-book costs me less than a birthday card and contains a lot more words. It holds the possibility of an enjoyable experience. Just that, a possibility.

But you’re not asking for my money. You want something far, far more valuable.

You want my time.

Reading is my sanctuary and my education. It’s my reward at the end of a difficult day. Those precious hours I spend with my paperbacks or e-reader are anything but throwaway.

I listen to friends, read reviews, hoard recommendations and if an author seems interesting, I buy their books. This is a big leap for me. Parting with three gilded coins is one thing, but six to ten hours of my attention is a much greater investment.

Discounted! Free! Limited time only! I couldn’t care less.

For a great premise, intriguing blurb and appealing cover, I’ll have a look. I’ll try a few pages. Plus if the author’s personality is something more interesting than Self-Promo Klaxon, I’ll pay full price, read and review.

Today, I bought some pumpkin-seed bread. It costs more than the bog-standard loaf, but I know I will enjoy it. The cashier threw a honey rice-cracker into my carrier bag as a little extra. I thanked him, took it home, crumbled it up and put it on the bird-table.

After all, it was free.

 

Image by Alan Levine