About direct donations, and sundry things

Posted in Miscellaneous.

In the FAQ comments — which I’ve turned off because I didn’t realize that I was getting comments there, and of course, since I was unaware, I’ve been ignoring them — there was one I would like to address a bit more publicly (I’ve addressed it in email, because the reader was kind enough to send email via the contact form when I failed to answer a comment I didn’t actually see).

Do you have a place where you accept dona­tions to the author? I tend to read books from the library or buy them used, which means that authors don’t receive addi­tional royalties when I read their works. I like to make dona­tions directly to the authors whose work I most enjoy, as a “thank you” and as a “please keep writing!”. I’d rather donate the retail cost of a book directly to the author, so that he/she receives a bigger cut than what an Amazon sale might bring.

Thanks very much for the many hours of reading pleasure you’ve given me.

If you, as a reader, for whatever reasons — financial, house bursting at seams with too many books, love of libraries — prefer to read my books through a library, you are still reading my books, and this does benefit me. Libraries don’t order books unless their patrons want to read them. If no one wanted to read any of my books through the library system, the library wouldn’t order them – they would spend their budgets on books that their patrons do want to read.

When they do order the books, they register as sales. I think, for ebooks, the cost is higher — but that’s almost an aside. The books carried by libraries are ordered from the publishers who have paid up front for me to a) write the books, b) artists & designers for the various book covers, c) print runs and d) distri­b­ution. Writing the first draft — the submission draft — of a book is not a team sport, it’s true. But every­thing that occurs after that is. Editing. Copy-editing. Proof-reading. Writing cover copy. Writing cata­logue copy. Cover art.

(I got to attend the cover shoot for Cast in Flame. I took pictures. I was reminded, by these pictures, that I have almost no talent as a photog­rapher, but luckily, that’s not my job. I intend, closer to the publi­cation date, to write a couple of blog posts about how the photo-shoot becomes the cover itself, because there are many steps.)

Also: marketing. Sales reps. Book­stores. Booksellers.

All of this, in the end, in the hope of reaching readers who will actually like the books.

But: library sales are part of this. So: if you prefer to read books from libraries, I’m happy.

Used books, it’s true, don’t pay the publishers. I get no royalties from them.

But here’s the thing: I used to buy used books. I used to buy a lot of used books. I bought new books as well — but not as often, because I couldn’t afford to buy as many books as I could read. (Having children cut my reading time down severely). I often took a chance on new-to-me authors through those used books.

I often found authors I would then camp the book­stores for, waiting for their new releases. And, because reading was what I did, I would burble like a happy, obsessed person when I found some­thing I loved. I may have attempted to convince other people to read them. (I would rant like an angry, upset person when I read some­thing I hated.)

I can’t speak against used books. Because I bought them, and because they were important to me. So if you found me that way, that’s fine, too.

But I don’t really want direct dona­tions for those books, or the books read in libraries, because they don’t benefit the rest of the people who work to publish the novels, and that sort of makes me feel guilty. Yes, without the book, there wouldn’t be the team behind it. I will flatter myself and say that my input is important. But it’s not the only input, and I want the rest of the team to benefit from their work, as well.

So in closing: if you read me at a library, or from a library, I’m happy. If you buy my books in any format, I’m happy. If you buy me in ebook, I’m happy. If you buy me in audiobook, I’m happy. I don’t require you to buy the books imme­di­ately, or in a specific format – but if I can ask one thing, it’s that on occasion, you read in a format that will also reward the publisher for their investment in me.

14 Responses to About direct donations, and sundry things

  1. Ellen says:

    For the record I’ve read your books in all formats. I started at the Library (that’s an inter­esting cover-Hidden City), Oh jeez they don’t have the whole series except in the Merril collection (Sun Sword)I need to buy the e-book (I bought a Kobo on account of you). I want to own this stuff lets buy used. Oh dang I can’t wait I’m buying the new paperback (Cast in-) and I did this because I felt I should be supporting you finan­cially. Over the last 2 ½ years I’ve read 22 of your books and enjoyed every minute of it. Touch is out? I’ll be buying it, Thanks for the stories

    • michelle says:

      When Borders was still alive, all of the Sun Sword books remained in print — every­thing from DAW did. But if Borders was only 30% of overall sales, it was pretty much 60% of the *backlist* shelving. (Backlist being any book which is not released that month).

      I’m sorry >.<.

      But also: grateful that you did go the extra mile to find them.

      I loved libraries as a child. I desper­ately wanted an *adult* card because I couldn’t take some of the books out on my own. But: I loved used book­stores because I *didn’t have to give the books back*.

      And when I finally started working part-time at 15, I loved book­stores because I didn’t have to wait.

      I loved reading, regardless. And I guess that’s the thing I remember: I loved reading. It got me through some pretty dark places. When I think of my own readers, I think of that.

  2. reid says:

    I too read books in all formats. I agree that supporting favorite authors is important. Thats why i buy their books and try to do it either pre-order or as soon as they come out. It is my under­standing that those first two weeks are very important for best seller list. I also volunteer at the local library and w/ the library friends group. With the demise of book stores it becomes harder to discover new and different authors. Libraries and used book sales become a great way of discover a new author you like. It is easier to take a risk and try a new author if your cost is minimal. Also used book sales and libraries are great for finding early books by an author you like.

    • michelle says:

      And for finding out-of-print books (which is probably what you meant when you talk about early books). Even in crappy shape, at least you *have* a copy of a book you cannot buy new for love or money.

      (Volunteer at the library! How cool is that!)

      The first week is important for best­seller lists, yes — but here’s the thing.

      When my oldest son was an infant, he *hated* to be indoors. Anywhere. Even home. I had *five minutes* before he set up wailing in any given store. Five minutes. So I would *run* into the local book­store, grab things almost randomly, and try to buy them and get out again before he started.

      No one wants to shop in a book­store with a 3 month old wailing his lungs out — not even his mother .

      What I wanted, or what I needed, was the ability to buy a book that I would hope­fully like in small, 5 minute windows. And at that point in time, the only thing that mattered to me was that.

      If an author — any author, even an author whose work I loved — had told me that in order to help her (or him) I had to time my purchase for release week… it would have only contributed to my sense of flailing guilt because I couldn’t even time my FIVE MINUTES. I was sleep deprived and off the internet and I had *no idea* when a book was coming out (I took 6 months off from the book­store work).

      We all want the authors whose books we love to do well and keep writing. I get that. *I* do it.

      But…my books are meant to provide escape, though, emotion and even comfort — and I don’t want to add the stress of being respon­sible for *me* to people whose lives are already kind of stress-filled.

  3. Hilda says:

    At my age, I considered myself a very older reader who enjoys reading books (nothing pleases me more). I go every­where (this morning to the doctor), carrying at least one book, maybe two. I have been fortunate in that, once an adult, I was able to buy the books I had wanted. I have built several collec­tions (the newest is yours) with the result that I have no more room for books (thou­sands); I have donated sooooo many boxes full of books, and I hope they are bought later at lower price. Granted, it’s not going to the authors, but this allows newer, hope­fully younger, readers to discover authors and later buy more of their books. It will also encourage the love of reading, and they will end up buying books. The problem for the authors really is the closing of most book­stores. Like someone else said, I discovered most loved authors going to book­stores. There is some incredible pleasure in handling a new book, looking at the summary in the cover, reading the comments. Today, I took to the doctor your Cast In Fury book; and was again fasci­nated with the fight with the dragon and the description given earlier in the book of the various fiefs; then let my mind go to the newer books to see how all that affected what I have read so far. Yes, supporting writers is needed, and, as you say, devel­oping more readers is also much needed. Once again, thanks for our books.

    • michelle says:

      I can’t think of too many authors who didn’t start out as readers.

      I can’t think of too many of us — as readers — who lived in a house with an unlimited budget for book buying. Many of us had parents who didn’t read much at all. (My father, who I love, didn’t read a *novel* until he was retired — he considered fiction a waste of his time because there was so much *fact* he didn’t know).

      Stum­bling over the dona­tions of a fantasy reader would have been like finding buried treasure — for me. It would have been an unasked for blessing.

      And I wouldn’t, at that time, have been thinking: “The poor author gets no money from this” because I didn’t know. I still have a few of the books I picked up used.

      I guess — I think the joy of, the delight in, reading has to come *first*.

  4. Andrea says:

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who burbles when having read a really good book.

    I do read a lot of books via the library and used books — mostly because I can try new things without costing too much. But I spend an awful lot in book­stores as well, simply because once I own the really good book, I can go back and re-read it when the fancy strikes at one in the morning (and is worth it because I’ve read it so many times). But I agree – libraries are one of the best places to browse and find new books, new authors, and new ideas without bank­rupting anyone! :)

    That said, I found you (and the Elantra series) through Cast in Moon­light in the Harvest Moon collection. Just a FYI.

    • michelle says:

      The best part about working in a book­store — 30+ years later — is the ability to burble joyfully about books. Seri­ously. Being asked for recom­men­da­tions and being able to make them is the high point of the job.

      And yes: for me, ownership meant: I didn’t have to give the book *back*. I could read it whenever I wanted >.>.

      I think the reason for collec­tions is partially that: People who are inter­ested in Mercedes Lackey bought Harvest Moon. Some of those people read all three of the novellas (some didn’t), and some of *those* readers liked the novella.

      (Of course, some of the people who bought Harvest Moon bought it because they wanted the Cast novella, too).

  5. DebbieH says:

    I buy in all three formats — ebooks, paperback and audio. I figure this makes up for buying used books when I was younger. I also didn’t think about royalties then. I really enjoy your books and am eagerly awaiting Cast in Flames. One of the best things about real books is re-reading them often — their like old friends. So thanks for many of my old friends and the new ones to come.

  6. David Y says:

    Some years ago, Spider Robinson was in Bakka, meeting and signing. I remember his saying, as he auto­graphed a copy, “That’s another six cents.”

    Jim C. Hines has just put hs income for the year on his blog. It was followed by another inter­esting discussion.

  7. Zia says:

    I would be one of the people who bought Harvest Moon strictly because it had Cast in Moon­light in it. I’ve had bad luck with Mercedes Lackney books (the three series I like are co-written by her with another author) so while I read Harvest Moon all the way through I really only bought it for Cast in Moonlight.

    I live out in the middle of nowhere so a library just isn’t some­thing I have the ability to use. Plus when I find a book I like I would prefer not to have to give it back. I read through several libraries as a kid, but it drove my mom up the wall that we would go to the library and I would check out the maximum books allowed (which was 20 I believe) and three days later max out I had already finished them and had to go back. As a result I am not a huge fan of libraries because going back to get the book every time I want to read it drives me insane.

    I’ve gotten to the point I buy two copies of all the Cast books because I loan them out to people and for some reason things seem to happen to them and while I get them back they are not in the best condition. I need to get them on my e-reader, but I save up for months to purchase the 2 Cast books I buy when each one is released so it’s hard to swing buying them a third time. I have the Sun Sword series split between kindle and books (depending on what I could find it as) and the House Name series is the same. The Queen of the Dead I have both as ebooks and actual books though that again requires some saving up and I am not a fan of hard­cover books so I won’t pick up Touch as a book until its a paperback.

  8. I used to have a reading copy and a shelf copy for certain books – in part because that way I could lend them to people without getting ulcers >.>.

    I am of the: read an entire book, and when done, the book looks pretty much the same as it did when I started. I don’t consider myself hugely careful — but I also don’t throw the books into a purse, etc.; I usually make sure they’re in a bag so the corners don’t get dog-eared.

    I have one friend (my son’s godfather) for whom I would buy his own copy if I wanted him to read some­thing (or if he wanted to borrow a book) because he could touch a book and it would imme­di­ately fall apart. That, and he read in the bath. Or the shower (one arm sticking out of the shower holding the book).

  9. jason says:

    It seems to me the logic of libraries gener­ating sales applies to used books too. A used book is a copy that was bought and then sold again. True the author/publisher recieved no benefit from the 2nd sale, but the did from the 1st. In practice the library case is more detri­mental to sales as it will be borrowed many more times than any copy will real­is­ti­cally be resold. Also, I will often buy a used book or borrow a library book with an unknown author Id never buy new. If I like it I will probably buy all they write new or as ebook because I want to have it.

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