Why did I give away 100 copies of GREEN AS A GARDEN HOSE at the Decatur Book Festival this past weekend?
I’m glad you asked.
When GREEN was originally published, the cover was very straightforward, almost stark-looking, as all my Biscuit McKee Mysteries were: the title, my name, the series logo, and a stripe at the top showing the color of the next book in the series–in this case, a blue stripe for BLUE AS BLUE JEANS. I’m putting the picture sideways so you’ll know it’s not the current cover! Also, because I can’t figure out how to rotate the image, but we won’t talk about that, will we?
So, here’s the new cover, complete with blood dripping from the logo and a picture that ties into the title. Great, huh? It also gives the order of the book in the series, something I always hate trying to track down when I read other people’s mystery series. Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton are the only writers whose books are easy to follow in sequence, what with their 1, 2, 3’s and a, b, c’s in the titles.
Anyway, back to the original question. Why give away the originals? Authors who are going to be appearing at book clubs, libraries, festivals and so on, generally buy copies of their books to sell at those events. We call those “author copies.” Way back when, I bought an outrageous number of GREENs. And then the cover changed, so I preferred to sell the new cover, and used the old ones only when I ran out of new copies.
Finally, it dawned on me. What’s the perfect way to introduce people to my characters and to the way I write? Not bookmarks, not postcards, not flyers. Nope. The surest way is to give people a chance to read one of my books. So . . . (drumroll here, please) . . . free books.
Actually, I had some old copies of YELLOW AS LEGAL PADS (the second book in the series) as well, so I gave away twenty of those.
This means that 120 people now have a chance to read my book. If they like it, they might want to pick up other books in the series (or try my ScotShop Mysteries as well). If they don’t like GREEN, they can always give it away to somebody else who might enjoy the story.
Sound like a good idea?
I sure hope so.