Don’t Buy My Book

It used to be so easy.  All I wanted was to sell something.  A novel, a short story.  Flash.  More than that I didn’t care.  Every day I sat down at the computer and pounded out another couple of thousand words.  Some were good.  Most were bad.  Either way, they were rewritten.    

Years passed, and I kept on.  By the end I didn’t actually believe it would ever happen.  But I kept on writing anyway.  It is, after all, a disease. 

Then lucky seven finally came my way.  Someone bought one of my books.  A whole trilogy, even.   For months I walked around on air.  Life couldn’t possibly be more perfect.  I could die happy. 

My euphoria lasted quite some time.  More years passed and the first book came out.  The distance between my heels and the street increased.  At least until I discovered Amazon rankings.  Within a day I was checking my book’s status every ten minutes and chewing my nails.  The backs of envelopes began to fill with messy calculations of how many books I had to sell before I started getting royalties.  Visions of sell-through and foreign rights danced in my head.  Amazon was nothing – I could be in the New York Times! 

It was magic.  It was necromancy.  In one quick month I’d gone from naïve newbie to groveling midlister.  Was that a Locus reviewer having a quiet beer at the bar?  An editor chatting with her peers?  Surely they wouldn’t mind my joining them.  Hell, I’d even pay.  

So here I sit at my keyboad today, a broken man.  Plot and character no longer matter, just shelf placement and electronic rights.  My vocabulary has shrunk to one word: Sales.  So please, if you don’t want me to get any worse, don’t do what my devilish editor did five years ago – don’t buy my books.  Help me get back my self-respect. 

Did I mention that my third novel, The Magicians’ Daughter, comes out on April 28th from Tor?  Available from pushers – I mean fine booksellers – everywhere.

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There are 8 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. NewGuyDave

    Would it help you to think of each sale as a reader hooked on a new drug only you can supply? In that case, your street cred will be totally ruined if you don’t push out some more snuff for your new addicts. Better get to work, or a couple of bruisers will be comin’ for ya.

    Alternately, this isn’t one of those economics experiments where you can create a demand and hold back supply to drive up price, so you might as well keep pushing the demand curve forward and increasing the supply to match.


    P.S. I hope some of that made sense, because my brain is befuddled at the moment with how to fix my ending…

  2. 2. Ju Honisch

    Oh dear. I am still in the “look up Amazon ratings” phase. Just sold my second novel.

    I must disappoint you, though. I am quite likely to buy your book. Though, mind you, a new shelf would be more urgent.

  3. 3. Diana Pharaoh Francis

    Here Ju, let me help feed your habit:

  4. 4. S.C. Butler

    Dave – Alas, I fear I’m to slow a writer to ever be addictive.

    Ju – Not sure I can help you with the shelf, and Diana’s already said it all when it comes to feeding the Amazon rankings habit.

  5. 5. Adam Heine

    “It was necromancy.”


  6. 6. cindy

    ha! my debut is out the same day.
    i’m sending a mass email out to all my contacts tomorrow.
    i’m almost tempted to write “you don’t have to READ it,
    just BUY it”. too crass?

    i’ve already been bitten.

  7. 7. S.C. Butler

    Cindy – When it comes to self-promotion, you can never be too crass. You have to do the hustle 24/7. I tell all my friends, “A true friend buys my book, but only a martyr reads it.”

  8. 8. cindy

    having said that. am so adding this trilogy to
    my wishlist. yes! i want to read a good fantasy!

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.



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