As of this writing, I have on Amazon, for Kindle, paperback, and an audiobook or two, the following:
That’s 11 books available for purchase. By the end of 2021, there will be 4 more.
- Three sci-fi Forgotten Fodder books
- One sci-fi Void Incursion novel
That’ll bring me to 15 books in multiple genres for you, your family, and friends to buy and read.
This is not just my passion — this is my chosen vocation. I’m plotting to release at least another 6 novels in 2022, completing the Void Incursion series, adding book three of The Source Chronicles, a new story arc for Forgotten Fodder, and launching another sci-fi/sci-fantasy series tentatively called Savagespace.
This is what I love to do. Creating new worlds, interesting characters, and so on. I share my process to help and encourage others on the same journey.
So how come it feels wrong, dirty, and inappropriate to ask you to buy my books?
I pay for some advertising, drop hints requesting sales — why is there a stigma to outright asking you to buy my books?
The problem/stigma with being direct
Asking directly for what we want — particularly when it comes to spending money — is frequently frowned upon.
There is this stigma that to outright ask someone to buy your work is rude. It’s not hard to believe that people see you as a bad person, out just to earn a buck — and that asking directly is a violation.
And it’s much worse when you’re an artist of any kind asking for payment for your art. People often expect you to work for free to get seen and exposed. While you might choose to do that a time or two — eventually it eats away your soul and self-worth.
For example, there was this magazine in a north New Jersey town I worked in that asked me to write a couple of articles. I agreed to do so for the exposure, despite the lack of pay. But when one of the articles was the featured, cover article — I told them if they wanted more from me, they had to pay me.
Suffice it to say — that was my last article for them.
Coming out and saying to you — buy my books — feels like I’m selling out. And this is due, in part, to the false notion of the nobility of the starving artist.
It’s perfectly acceptable for artists to “starve”. The notion of greater purity and nobility in the creation of our work is put on a pedestal far above earning a living from it.
Why? Because for most people the arts are a hobby. For every professional painter, there are probably dozens of amateur painters and enthusiasts. This also applies to all the professional writers, actors, musicians, knitters, sculptors, and so on.
When you leave the hobby behind and make it your profession — that’s not without challenges.
Who am I to get paid for art?
I have asked myself this question more than once. But not as nicely.
Who in the hell am I to think I deserve to get paid to write? I’m not Paulo Coelho, Neil Gaiman, Jen Sincero, or anyone other than this average guy who writes sci-fi, fantasy, mindfulness and self-encouragement books.
But then, I also know that Mr. Coelho, Mr. Gaiman, and Ms. Sincero were once unknowns, too. In all probability, they were faced with the same question. And the answer was (I presume) I’m a writer and I love to write.
My book sales are presently not covering the cost of the editing or cover art. Yet I recognize how important both are — so I pay the pros for their work to make my work the best that it can be.
And then I take various stabs at getting my work further recognition via marketing and advertising. Since I didn’t take the traditional publishing route, all effort is only what I put into it. I am a publisher, final layout designer, marketer, cheerleader, CEO, and COO — on top of being a writer.
And I believe in what I do. This is my passion, my love, and I believe the best outward expression of my “mantra”:
I am a successful writer who empowers people to be inspired and inspires people to be empowered.
That is who I am to get paid for my art. There are some amazing characters and worlds in my head I must share. I believe they are worthwhile — and, thus, worthy of your purchase.
Let me be direct — Please buy my books!
Salespeople make their living selling goods and services. They take all sorts of angles and approaches to do this.
Some are direct and to the point. But then, you get the indirect, semi-shady sales.
Amazon offers direct sales. Here is the product. Buy it — or not. I think this is part of why they have become the retail giant they are. No pressure, just lots of products you may or may not need and want.
Then there are the indirect sales. For example, you buy a car. Now, they try to sell you this protection plan, that extra accessory, and so on. Before you know it, the $20,000 car you went to buy is costing you $25,000 — and you haven’t even paid tax yet.
I’ve participated in shadier sales during my college years. I spent a summer (in 1992 or 93) working in a call center, going through the phone book and offering people a “free” carpet cleaning of a single room.
Once our salespeople got into your home, they would vacuum that room, first — and show you how ineffective your vacuum was. Then they used the carpet cleaner — which, FYI, you could buy with the vacuum — for a discounted price. And given the effectiveness of both — you should REALLY want them.
Indirect and semi-shady? Hell yes. Does anyone like that approach? No. It makes you feel duped, mislead, and like you’re being taken for a ride and disrespected.
But then the direct approach nonetheless feels dirty and inappropriate. It’s a conundrum.
Hence, I think we need to recognize this for what it is. If I am earning my living from my work — then I need to be able to ask you to buy it to support that — without feeling guilty about it.
Take the step
Why shouldn’t I feel guilty, dirty, or inappropriate when I ask you to buy my books? Because it’s not wrong. I am creating something of value that I have the right to be paid to share.
No, it’s not a cure for a terrible disease, a life-saving appliance, nor the ultimate widget every household needs. But it is the thing I created that I believe in the value of. My books are good and worth the money I charge for them — whatever format that might be in.
Others have come before me and made their living in the same way — or selling another art that is their passion. So why is it dirty or inappropriate to ask you to buy my books?
I am not asking you to spend an obscene amount of money. In fact, I am offering something of value — information, escape, and/or entertainment. And everyone needs that in their lives.
So — please buy my books! And while we’re at it, please encourage your friends and family to buy them, too!
Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on May 15, 2021.