Embarking on my journey as an author while stationed in Korea, I poured my heart and soul into my debut book, The Empty Lot Next Door. This 18-month odyssey of research and writing led me to a pivotal decision: ordering 500 copies of my book, a bold move that meant investing thousands in printing and shipping. It was a gamble, driven by the unwavering belief in my story and its potential to resonate with readers.
The first half of these books found their way to media outlets and professional reviewers, a decision that bore fruit. I was featured on various media platforms, from podcasts to the evening news, which gave an incredible boost to my book's visibility and sales. This was the first taste of success, and it was exhilarating.
However, the other half of the copies, distributed to co-workers, family, and friends with the hope of garnering Amazon reviews, met a starkly different fate. Out of 250 copies, only three reviews materialized. This disheartening response forced me to confront a hard truth: perhaps the allure for many was not in the content of the book but in the novelty of owning a free, signed copy from a family member or acquaintance.
This lesson became painfully clear as I navigated awkward interactions and observed people actively avoiding me, likely burdened by the guilt of not having engaged with the book. It was a harsh lesson in human nature and the complexities of mixing personal relationships with professional aspirations.
Undeterred, I repeated this process with my second book, The Crawl Space, giving away another 150 books without requesting reviews or feedback. The result was a mirror of my first experience—silence.
These experiences, though tough, were invaluable. They taught me that true support for an author transcends the act of merely receiving a free book. Real support is embodied in purchasing the book, diving into its pages, and immersing oneself in the world the author has painstakingly created. It's about engaging with the story, reflecting on it, and then taking the time to share those thoughts with the world. This form of engagement is what breathes life into an author’s work, allowing it to flourish and reach new heights.
True support also means understanding the journey an author undertakes—the countless hours of writing, the emotional rollercoaster of bringing characters to life, and the vulnerability of sharing one's creation with the world. When readers acknowledge this journey by investing their time and resources, it validates the author's efforts and fuels their creative spirit.
Ultimately, the richest reward for an author isn’t monetary; it’s the knowledge that their work has genuinely touched someone’s life. It’s in the heartfelt discussions, the thoughtful reviews, and the shared enthusiasm for the story. This is the true essence of supporting an author. It's a connection that goes beyond the pages of the book—it’s a bond forged through shared experience, understanding, and appreciation of the craft.
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