I’ve had a few of the same conversations in the past month and I generally, eventually, take that as a sign to ‘blog on the theme’. So, today’s theme is this one: authors usually don’t have boxes of books in their garage, waiting for you to come and ask them for a free copy*.
Here’s the thing: as an author the number of author copies of your book you get will depend entirely on your status, earning power and, sometimes, the clauses you’ve specified in your contract.
Relatives and close friends are particularly bad for this – and it’s really bad form especially if they’ve seen you go through the lean times when you were eating the cardboard remains of the cracker packet coz it was all that was left in the pantry and it kinda still smelled like the crackers. The assumption that authors all make big money and can suddenly start bathing in Moët is sadly off-base. After your first book, you might be able to afford some butter to spread on the cardboard, but there will be no jam for an while to come and certainly no caviar.
So, if an author offers you a free copy of their book, say “thank you” and be grateful. But, for the love of all that’s holy or otherwise, please don’t go sidling up and saying “Sooooo, how about a free copy of your book, grandma/uncle/distant cousin’s dog manicurist?”
It is bad form. It is cheap and nasty. It sucks.
Put your hand in your pocket and go buy a copy of the book so the impoverished author gets her/his miniscule royalty payment and can afford to buy real crackers. Support the writer and the publishing industry.
* Unless they have self-published and then they won’t be wanting to give you a copy for free, coz, y’know, it’s their bread and butter.
PS: I believe the photo is a Spencer Platt.