I worked a charity event this weekend, and ran into many old friends. One of them asked me how book sales are going (hate that question!), and I responded with "have you bought one yet?" We've had this same conversation about three times since my first book released last December. Finally, she was able to respond in the affirmative. I eagerly asked if she liked it. "Oh, I loaned it to Rebecca (who, by the way, was going to buy her own copy before this happened) to read. I only read thrillers and serious books. Your book was too gushy for my taste - I stopped after the first few pages. But I supported you buy buying it, after all."
No. No, she did not. She supported the economy, not me. Basic marketing is about word of mouth. Right now, I'm nothing more than a dust catcher on her book shelf. If she read it - even if not her usual style - she would know enough to be able to recommend it to people. She would know it takes place in Charleston, is centered around a Civil War mystery and a journalist. And when she encounters friends and family who could relate to any of those topics, she could mention my book. Use it as a stocking stuffer? Secret Santa present at work? Whereas now, she considers her duty done after whipping out her visa card. She'll never bring it up to anyone. How can she, when she knows nothing about it? What on earth makes me stand out from the stack of books in her living room, makes my book a noticeable commodity, different from all the rest? Absolutely nothing, at least in her eyes.
Support, to me, isn't monetary. It is emotional. It is listening with interest every day when friends tell me about their marathon training - even though I don't care about running and think they are nuts for doing it. It is remembering to ask my friends if they won their field hockey tournament, or going with them to an event I don't care about, just to be there for them. I don't write for the paycheck. I write as an escape for me, while writing, and an escape for readers, to brighten their day. At the end of the day, I almost wish she hadn't bought my book. Has this happened to any of you?