The difference between a real fan and a ‘fan in the pan’.

So, you’ve been working like mad for months, years, decades to get your book polished up and published.  The day has finally come.  You’re in print.   And then it starts.

The family members or friends who think they should get a free copy of your book just because they are friends or family start asking.

Where were they, when you spent three days trying to decide to kill off that one character you loved, even though they weren’t central to the plot?  Did they spend all day on your release day ghosting your publisher’s website, wanting to be among the first to purchase your book?

The point I’m making is that you worked hard to get here.  Don’t give your work away just because someone thinks they deserve a free copy.  That’s your choice to make.  Promotional give aways are a great way to put your book into the hands of someone who may not have gotten a copy otherwise.  But don’t let someone guilt you into giving them one. 

A friend or family member who wants you to succeed and supports you will buy their own copy, because they know that’s how you’ll make money from the book.  They’ll come to a signing.  Not necessarily to get you to sign their copy, but to support you as you promote your work. 

The ‘fan in the pan’ is going to complain that you didn’t give them what they wanted (a free copy), and are only there to try and share in your moment.  They’re the people who are going to mention they have a cousin/friend who wrote a book, but won’t help you sell any.  They want to be connected to any fame you gain.  And have done nothing to support you on the way.

I say ignore the ‘fan in the pan’.  They’re not worth your time.  You were strong enough to work on your novel, painstakingly revising it time and time again, enduring rejections over and over until this time arrived.  And the sooner you start saying ‘no’ to those who want you to give your work away, the better it will be in the long run.

Now, I’m not advocating never giving your books away.  Promotional give aways are a wonderful tool.  And, there may be a few people who you feel really did support you along the way who deserve a free copy.  That’s completely understandable. 

Think of it as winning the lottery.  Many people out there think that a book contract is guaranteed riches.  It’s not.  But, like so many lotto winners, you just might have a lot of relatives you hardly speak to suddenly wanting to come visit because they (mistakenly) think you’ve struck it rich. 

You want me to be successful with my book?  Go buy a copy.

2 thoughts on “The difference between a real fan and a ‘fan in the pan’.

  1. I’ve got the opposite problem: my friends and family keep asking when they can buy my book. They’re getting frustrated because they can’t throw money at the publisher. No, really. Some of the friends, who I’d kind of like to have as test-readers and reviewers, have refused a draft copy because they want to help by buying the book.

    • I’ve gotten that as well, Chad. The ebook is out, but a number of my friends and family are anxiously waiting for the paperback version. Some bought the ebook as well, others are waiting for their preferred edition.

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