When friends borrow instead of buying your book

So, you’ve just put all your blood, sweat, and tears, as well as all your time and money, into a published book you now hold in your hands.  And you’ve been practically selling your soul to try and sell the dang thing.  You’ve already managed to get all your friends and family to buy, and are now working on furthering your reach to include people you don’t know.  And as you struggle with sales, your friend brags about how all her friends are now borrowing her copy of your book so they can read it too.

Wait, what?

If you’ve just heard correctly, your friend just told you that she is GIVING AWAY your story for free instead of urging her friends to BUY your book.  She is stealing from your children and taking food off your table!  She might as well get access to your bank account, because she has just succeeded in ensuring you will never see another dollar again!

Ok, calm down there bucko.  She’s actually done you a favor.  Stay with me.

I’m going to throw some numbers at you.

$2.74.  That is the amount I get back for each eBook I sell with a $3.99 asking price.

$3.97. That is the amount I get back for each paperback book I sell with a $13.95 asking price.

Are you following me here?  One book will cover a fancy cup of coffee.  It is not feeding my children.  It’s not sending me on tropical vacations.  I have not been able to quit my day job over this amount.  So when a friend loans their book out to other friends, it’s not likely to break the bank.

I know what you’re thinking.  But what about my sales ranking?  Those borrowed books aren’t adding to that number either!  My friend is giving away my book, and meanwhile, my ranking is the same number as the population of San Francisco!

Do you really think a few borrowed books are going to keep you from entering the Top 100?

So back to that favor your friend did you by lending your book out to others.  What she has done is created BUZZ about your book.  At this point, the best thing that can be done for you, as an author, is to get other people talking about your book.  The more people who read it, the more people are talking about it with their friends.  Remember how you have been trying to get your book to reach further than your family and friends?

It’s happening!

Even though you are a struggling artist and would love to make some money off that book you just wrote, those freebies aren’t for naught.  The buzz that’s being created will amount to dollar signs.  You just have to be patient.

Another point – you should consider it a compliment when your friend loans out your book.  It means she thought it was so good, she wants to share it with others.  That is what EVERY struggling writer needs to focus their attention on – your book is so good, other people are clamoring to read it!

Isn’t that why you wanted to write anyway?  So you could share your writing with others?

So when you hear that your book is being loaned out, thank your friend for sharing your book!  They’ve just done some of your marketing for you.  Oh, and if you slip in a request that those friends leave you a review on Amazon or Goodreads in exchange for borrowing, I won’t tell. 😉


Crissi Langwell is the debut author of A Symphony of Cicadas.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

11 thoughts on “When friends borrow instead of buying your book”

  1. They say word of mouth is the best way to draw attention to your book. Still, it would be nice if all my friends bought my book instead of lending. But, hey, if I can get a good review, I suppose it doesn’t matter how I got it. It’s that I got it and it can make me look good.

    1. I agree. I would totally prefer a sale instead of lending. But them borrowing it and (hopefully) recommending the book to others is just as valuable at this point. 🙂

  2. I love how you made something that so many view as a negative (loaning books vs. buying) into a positive. Great perspective. Can’t beat free advertising!

    1. A few days ago, I was struggling with this truth, actually appalled at how someone I knew decided to borrow my book from a friend instead of buying it on their own. And then I thought about it. I borrow books all the time. And if I like them, I totally tell other people about them. If someone borrowing my book likes it, there’s a chance they’ll also share it. Isn’t that a good thing? It helped me to find the positive in what, I’m sure, will be a common occurrence.

  3. I am guilty of borrowing as well, but any book that I’ve ever borrowed and liked I had to go buy for myself. I’m the type that if I really like a book I will read it probably a dozen times, if not more. If most people share my obsession, which I’d like to think that they do, the buzz generated from borrowing books will definitely generate sales…and hopefully some good reviews as well. 🙂

    1. Thanks Alana! I’m really interested in your support group. Writing can be such a lonely profession, and I’ve realized how important community really is! Going to check out your blog!

  4. Pingback: How my book did on Kindle’s free promotion | Crissi Langwell

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