I like to consider myself to be a generous, caring and compassionate person. I love helping people when they need it. I love being there for my family and friends, but above all, I love giving gifts and making people smile.
You might be wondering what this has to do with writing, books, or publishing.
Generosity in general has a lot to do with it. When we become writers, authors, published or self-published, we become people who have a lot to give. We give to our readers with our stories (which is the main aim), but we also give to aspiring writers in the way of advice, or to our fans with a returned email, and we give to bloggers/events etc. by making donations for giveaways.
It is this last point that most concerns me.
Now that I have three books out in the world, I often get requests for donations for anything from review copies, to a giveaway, to a lucky door prize, and even people asking for swag because they just want a bookmark.
All these things cost money, and when it comes to donations, my generosity can only stretch as far as the bottom of my pockets.
I would love to be able to donate to everyone who asks, but it’s not financially viable. Because I self-publish, I have to pay for everything upfront. Paperback copies of my books, bookmarks, postcards, magnets; it all comes out of my pocket. This means that each time I donate something, it has to be beneficial to me in some way, and it has to have the potential to earn me some sort of income to at least cover costs.
That probably sounds mean, or stingy, or whatever word you want to use, but like anything, there is only so much you can give, and so far you can go. This is where learning to say no comes into the equation.
Writing books is not only my passion, but I hope that one day it will earn me enough to become my business. At this point in time, if I spend too much money on something that doesn’t generate income in return, then I will have nothing left to support my next book, and the book after that.
As a self-published author, there are three things I take into consideration before I hand over any donations:
- Do I know the person asking and/or have some kind of relationship with them?
- What is the donation for, and will it generate any interest in my work?
- What will it cost me to provide the donation?
If I don’t know someone then I’m highly unlikely to give up anything. If someone wants something from me, or my help in any way, that person (or people) should get to know me first. The only exception here would be requests for review copies, because reviews are something that will benefit me and the growth of my books. If the donation is for an event that I haven’t been invited to, or I’ve never heard of, I’ll probably be apprehensive. If I’m attending the event then the answer would most definitely be yes. If it’s a blog giveaway for an author/blogger I know and support, the answer would also be yes. A lot of people are unaware that even traditionally published authors have to pay for their own books. They may not pay full retail price, but they still pay something. Some authors will get free copies, but even then it’s a small amount. I don’t get any free copies, so if I were to give away or donate a paperback it would roughly cost me $12 to print/package/post a book within Australia. Overseas postage would be substantially more.
The next time you enter a giveaway involving books or swag and even gift cards, I ask that you have a think about how generous the person donating the items has been, because more often than not the cost has come from their pocket. If you’re planning your own giveaway, make sure the people you approach are those you know and have supported in the past. If you don’t know them, drop them an email and introduce yourself. Show a genuine interest and you’ll be surprised at the generosity you’ll receive in return.
I don’t like having to say no, but there are times when it’s unavoidable. Although, in saying that, I will always support anyone who supports me 🙂
I’d love to hear about your experiences with giveaways. Is the cost involved something you’ve ever considered? Have any of our author followers felt the same way I do?
NB: this article is solely my opinion based on my own experience as a self-published author.
K. A. Last is a YA author of Fall For Me, Sacrifice and Immagica. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while. And yes, she has cut all her hair off!