Books are like puppies
September 5, 2014
Long ago, in what seems like a different life—different spouse, different house, different century—we bought a puppy. My then-husband wanted a hunting dog. I wanted a pet who would become a member of the family. We found the perfect puppy in a beautiful little Brittany Spaniel. We called her Cindy, though she had a fancy name, registered with the AKC. We decided to breed her once, and envisioned a litter of pedigreed puppies. Unfortunately, and sadly, the one litter was fathered by the neighborhood mutt, who managed to jump over what we were sure was an impenetrable, unscalable eight-foot fence.
When it was time to deliver the puppies, my husband, who often traveled, was out of town. It was just the two of us—me and Cindy. Poor little thing didn’t seem to know what was happening when the first baby came out. She yelped and cried, and looked up at me with pleading, confused eyes. I wasn’t in much better shape myself, but as gently as possible I picked them both up and carried them downstairs where we had prepared a bed in a box with a cozy quilt where she could give birth.
I stayed with her that night, not knowing for sure if she wanted privacy or help. I felt pretty helpless. As one puppy, then another came forth, our own puppy seemed less surprised, less startled. Instinct took over and she knew what to do. By morning, she was nursing an astonishing number of little ones—eleven.
She turned out to be a surprisingly good mother, but the time came when we were ready to find homes for the just-one-short-of-a-dozen puppies, who I must admit looked more like that rapist dog who had jumped the fence than their beautiful mother.
We found homes with friends for four. Determined to place them all, we decided to run an ad in the local newspaper. I figured it would be a variation of the cardboard box at the grocery store—FREE PUPPIES—but my husband said absolutely not. He said if we gave them away, it would be as if we were saying they had no value, and they could possibly go to someone who wouldn’t take care of them, might even harm them. I don’t remember what we charged, but it wasn’t much, just enough to tell us that those who responded were serious about taking care of a new puppy.
So—yes, I know you’ve been waiting—how are books like puppies? I have to confess I am about to do something that doesn’t seem quite right. I’m giving away books. For free, as if they are worthless. On September 7, 8, and 9, the eBook version of my latest book, EVEL KNIEVEL JUMPS THE SNAKE RIVER CANYON . . . , will be free on Amazon. I’m also giving away ten paper books on Goodreads.
So, why am I doing this? I’ve heard from writer friends that this is a good way to get exposure and reviews, which often increases the ranking and the possibility of being included on Amazon “lists.” In a way, this book is a bit of a mutt, just like those puppies. My earlier books were novels, published by a large internationally recognized publisher; this one is a collection of stories, the first book from Ninth Avenue Press. The novels are set in Paris, Florence, and Munich and deal with themes of art and intrigue. These are simple stories, about ordinary people, some set in my hometown of Twin Falls, Idaho.
Other writers who’ve done a giveaway have told me it also brings out those who just want something for free, who probably don’t value the work, possibly don’t even read your particular genre. I’ve seen scathing reviews, readers stating they’re glad they didn’t have to pay for it.
So, if you decide to accept a free book, please treat it with care, read it with respect. And, if you do decide to write a review, please don’t say you’re sure glad you didn’t have to pay for it.
What a great story and blog post! Sadly, I got behind on my emails and did not read this until after the Goodreads giveaway, but I am sure that all of the lucky people who received your ebooks and paper books are enjoying them and would have been glad to pay for them, but are thrilled to have received them as a gift!
-Lisa Egan, September 22, 2014
Thank you, Lisa. I just finished packing up the paper books to send out for the Goodreads giveaway. I decided to go global on this one and was surprised by the many responses. Books went as far as Israel, New Zealand, and Peru! I had to fill out customs declarations and my curiosity led me to Google several of the destinations. I had fun imagining where this little book, with a story set in Twin Falls, Idaho, finally ended up!
-Kelly Jones, September 23, 2014