Five Books Out, Three Books In

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I have over 300 unread books, between my bookshelves and my Kindle. All hail free ebooks and cheap secondhand sales!

But the mental weight of that is beginning to stagger me–I have enough books to keep me reading for about two years without getting any more. And how could I possibly go two years without buying more books, or borrowing from friends, family, or the library? I’ve got to get this under control.

Book-buying bans simply don’t work for me–if I see a book I want for pennies, well, I’m going to buy it, because what if I never get that chance again?

I can avoid temptation by not going to my local libraries and browsing their sales–and I have–and doing my best to stay off Amazon, perusing the most popular free ebooks. Which I also have.

It’s helping, but I know myself well enough to predict that I will cave at some point.

So I’m going to earn those new books.

I decided on the 40% TBR Reduction Rule: five books out, three books in.

I started counting just under a month ago, and I’m doing my physical and digital books separately, because the rule varies slightly between the two.

For digital books, which take up no real space, when I’ve read five of them, I have earned the ability to acquire up to three more. I don’t have to delete the books or even archive them, though at some point my Kindle will need a clean-out so I don’t run out of space.

For the physical books, though, it’s a much harder rule. I don’t merely get to read the five books, I have to actually get rid of five before I can earn three acquisitions. That means any books I keep don’t count–I have to give books away to friends or family, or re-donate them to the library (my usual choice) or a thrift/secondhand store.

Unsurprisingly, in the three weeks and few days since I’ve started tracking, I’ve only earned one new digital book. I have gotten rid of two physical books, but it might be a while before I get rid of any more, since I plan to read those unfinished series I bought soon, books I’m more likely to keep than give away.

If I can stick to this for the next few months, I might be able to justify hitting the huge $2/bag library sale in early December than I’ve gone to for the past two years, a large contributing factor in why I have so many books in the first place…

Let Me Tell You a Story #26: The Power of Asking for Help

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I went to the library yesterday, after receiving a notification I had a book waiting for me. (I’ve been on hold for A Court of Mist and Fury since just before its release two months ago.)

I took my writing journal along, because I hadn’t done an observational entry in the library yet, but I ended up writing about how nervous I was to be there.

That’s not a typical reaction to a library for me. Yes, I’m an anxious person in general, but libraries? One of the best, most soothing places on earth to me. All those books.

I wrote myself a pep talk, to work up my nerve to go to the desk and ask about the process of getting my novel into circulation.

I’d already read numerous articles on the Internet about the process, and they all offered various forms of advice, from sending a formal query directly to the purchasing department, to having friends and family request the book through the system until enough attention accumulated to prompt the library to make a purchase.

Most didn’t recommend walking in with a copy and handing it over, because even if the book is a donation and doesn’t cost them money to purchase, it does cost them time and money to process and get on the shelves–not all libraries have that extra bit of time and money.

But I’m not my best via email, even worse on the phone (anxious, you know). I’m great in person, when I can see who I’m talking to. Especially since I’m a regular at the library, if not on a first-name basis with any of the librarians yet.

So I took a copy of my novel, just in case, and told myself I was on a fact-finding mission.

I happened to have the head librarian wait on me at the desk, which made my mission even easier. While she was checking out ACOMAF for me, I asked, “If I were an independent author and wanted to get my book into circulation, how would I go about doing that?”

She answered, “Bring in a copy, tell us it’s for the collection rather than the book sale, then we look up all the information on it we need to make the bib, and get it onto the shelves.”

I blushed (I know I did, I could feel it) and pulled the copy out of my tote bag, explaining that I hadn’t counted on it being so simple, because of the Internet articles, but I’d wanted to be ready.

We chatted a bit about the process, and she offered to talk my book up at the next branch meeting, and I thanked her profusely, probably a little too profusely, but she understood. She said, “It’s harder sometimes to ask for help than it is to get it.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Fellow authors, I know it’s hard for some of us; self-promotion isn’t a skill that comes naturally to everyone. But make friends with your librarians. They’re generally lovely people, and they do want to help.

(She also brought up the idea of me hosting a book talk at the library, “not promising anything yet” but recommending I think about it, maybe in time for the holidays when “hordes of grandmas come in and want to know what books to send off to their college kids for Christmas.” I’m not at all ready for that now–I didn’t even know I’d get my book on the shelves that easily–but libraries love events, and they love local authors. I’m nervous, but if I can, I think I’d like to do it.)

Let Me Tell You a Story #10: Library Blues

I’d planned to return my last two library books this morning, first errand out of the gate before the grocery and the laundry and all of the other things I hope to get done today.  But I made the mistake of checking my account to make sure I hadn’t forgotten a book (no overdue charges for me, please!) and I saw one of my hold requests marked as “In Transit.”

I have delayed all my errands to sit home and write and wait for “In Transit” to become “Ready for Pickup.”  Because last time I hit the library first, I got the call two hours after I got home, and I didn’t have a chance to go back for three days.

Three days knowing there was a book I desperately wanted to read waiting for me…torture.

On the upside, I have the next part of Grace and the Greek Warrior all ready to go for tomorrow.  Writing has always been a good way for me to channel my crippling impatience.