The other day I was talking with an editor friend who complained about how hard it is to build a new author. I tried to be sympathetic and give him some ideas, but we've both been around for a while, and we're well-acquainted with the reality. Aside from a few skyrocketeers, for a writer it usually takes years, even decades, to establish a place in the industry -- and even when you do, there are no guarantees you'll keep it. Ever.
The right hype will attract an instant temporary readership; we've all seen it happen to the writers the industry touts as the Next Big Thang. A considerable segment of the book-buying public wants to be told who is the latest Thang writer because, like most consumers, they respond to the illusion of popularity and the promise of success as an indicator of quality. If they didn't, we wouldn't have advertising, bestseller lists or industry awards.
What I think sees a writer through the dark woods at the beginning of their career is the enduring readership. This is made up of readers who really aren't interested in the Last Big Thang, the Next Big Thang, or even That Sweet New Young Thang with the Miss America smile whose face is being splashed everywhere. They follow a particular writer because they connect in some fashion with the work. They bond on a very basic level -- storyteller to reader -- and for as long as the writer produces quality work and the reader reads, that bond will endure.
I was thinking about all this when I was cooking up the prize for this giveaway. I would love to send free books to everyone in my readership, but aside from giving away e-books like Ravelin online that is simply not possible. But I do keep a private mailing list, and there is room for a few more names. So for the ninth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:
Four PBW Mailing List Spots
I have for each of the four winners of this giveaway a spot on my private mailing list. This means that if you win this giveaway, I will send you a signed final edition copy of every novel I write from now on (beginning with Stay the Night in January 2009.)
How many books will that be? Well, I don't know, exactly. I have four new books currently under contract, in production or pending release, so I can guarantee you at least four. I am somewhat prolific; I have a pile of novel and series ideas that I'd like to publish and no plans to retire anytime soon. So unless the Publishing industry collapses, you ask to be removed from the list or I get hit by a truck or something, I think I can provide you with plenty of reading material for years to come.
This prize also requires a little commitment from the winners -- you'll need to let me know if you move and your address changes, for example. Also, if you live outside the U.S., you'll have to alert me if there are any changes to customs or other shipping rules that affect mail delivery in your country. But other than that, all you have to do is walk down to the mailbox a couple times a year.
To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name a writer who you have been following for longer than a year (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Sunday, December 21, 2008. I'll draw four names at random from everyone who participates and put the winners on my private mailing list, plus send them an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.
*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.