One of the most frequent questions we get, and which popped up several times on the tour is, “What can we do to help you guys?” This sometimes breaks down into component parts, such as, “Is there a venue where I can buy your stuff which will give you more money than Those Other Places?” and “What does it take to make you guys famous?”
First of all, and as always, thank you! for thinking of us; and for everything you’ve done for us and our work. We wouldn’t be where we are without you; without your support and your interest.
To the specific question, “What can we do to help you guys?”, the answer is pretty much the same as for any other of your favorite writers:
1. Buy our books.
At this time, our audiobooks are available exclusively from Audible, which makes it easy.
If you’re buying paper or ebooks, the source doesn’t matter; we get the same piece of the action no matter where you buy. Our percentage of each sale is set in our contract with the publisher, so sale prices in stores don’t negatively impact our earnings.
That said, we’d prefer, if you possibly can, that you buy books from indie bookstores and from Barnes and Noble. The reason for this is two-fold.
One — indie bookstores have been very good to us, personally, throughout our career. Also, we just personally believe that readers and writers are better served by having a number of smaller retailers, owned, operated and staffed by people who have a passion for books, rather than having to run all our purchases through one megamonster store that only cares about its own bottom line.
Two — many indie bookstores, and BN, too, contribute numbers to the various bestseller lists. Hitting (and staying on) bestseller lists gives us some leverage in terms of negotiating a raise with the publisher when it comes time to talk about a new contract.
Bonus Reason Three — even after a title is listed as OOP, and is not accessible to Amazon or BN, you may find it at Uncle Hugo’s, or Mysterious Galaxy or another indie store (sometimes even signed!). Indie bookstores tend to hold onto backlisted titles longer than chains.
2. Pre-order our books.
Pre-orders help retailers know how many books to order, so they won’t run out in the first two days after a new title is released. Which, admit it, would be a Tragic Thing Indeed.
Also! All pre-orders count toward first-week sales, for the purpose of those lists we were talking about, up in #1.
If you have friends who seem to be a good match for our work, please introduce them to our books. Let me just say here that Friends of Liad are particularly good at this.
It’s now easier than ever, by the way, to hook friends on our books, especially friends who have ereaders. Baen, BN, and Amazon (at a minimum) offer both Agent of Change and Fledgling as free downloads.
Also! If you know of a podcast/blog/magazine where we might fit as interviewees or guests, do suggest us.
In that vein, if you are on a con committee — or know someone who is on a con committee — suggest us as guests. We also willingly appear at libraries and bookstores, but those are trickier to pull off, since we often need a whole string of bookstores/libraries/cons bridging us with a far-away venue. And do remember: We live in Maine; and Maine is Far Away from Everywhere.
4. Review our books.
On Amazon, Audible, BN, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other places where readers congregate and discuss books. I hear from my colleagues that 50 reader reviews on Amazon is a Magic Number, but, like many things Magical, the “why” has been lost in the Misty Depths of Time.
5. Don’t download our work from, or upload it to, pirate sites.
Really, this should be self-explanatory, but, having recently seen (through the wonder that is the Google autosearch) a. . .person of no melant’i solicit Necessity’s Child for warez$ on a pirate site bare hours after the eArc was made available for sale by Baen — with the comment that they just couldn’t wait to get the new book from their favorite authors — apparently the below needs to be said.
Authors don’t get paid for books downloaded from pirate sites. If you want your favorite authors to be able to afford to keep on writing, you need to buy their books for real money from an actual retailer. There’s no way around it.
Also, pirate sites are unsavory places at best; and it personally gives me the Cold Grue just thinking about exposing my computer to one of those places, much less accepting and opening a file from one.
6. Don’t write and post fan fiction of our work.
The following is Lee and Miller specific, and it has been our stance for more than a decade. It’s not new, and it’s not a secret. Other writers have other stances and opinions. When in doubt — ask.
I know it’s a popular belief among many of the fan-fiction community that fan fiction does not hurt the parent work, that it provides much-needed publicity to the parent work, that it does not infringe the copyright or trademark of the parent work, and that the authors of the parent work can’t stop it, anyway.
Three of these four beliefs are just that — beliefs. They can no more be proven than can our belief that fan fiction materially harms the parent work — especially a parent work which is still evolving — provides no useful publicity, and does, indeed, infringe on the copyright and the trademark of the parent work. Note that we are talking about our own works here — see disclaimer, above.
To the fourth point, that authors are powerless to prevent fan fiction authors from ficcing whatever they want to — that’s perfectly true. Common courtesy would seem to dictate that the wishes of the author of the parent work be respected, however. So, we would ask for common courtesy.
. . .and that’s pretty much it, really.
Thanks for asking — and again, thank you for your support and your care.