I've been a full time writer now for about three years, and I've learned a great deal about the business in that time. One of the most important things I've learned is that sales numbers run the business. In other words, how many books an author sells determines the following
How long a book stays in print and available
- Whether that book even appears on the shelf at a bookstore
- Whether an author will be able to publish another book
In other words, sales numbers are a career breaker for an author. Book stores won't even stock books from authors with low sales numbers. An author won't be able to get another book contract, no matter how good the book is, if they've had low sales numbers in the past. And even though an author may be publishing with a "Christian" publisher, profits are always the bottom line. They are in business to make money, after all.
What discourages me more than anything is hearing from readers who absolutely love my books, but who borrowed them from their neighbor's neighbor who got them from their cousin who got them from their mother...etc. In other words, twenty people read and loved my books, but I only got one sale out of it. Though I do consider my books a God-given ministry and I'm overjoyed when I hear from people whose lives have changed as a result of reading my books, but sales numbers are still the bottom line.
So I'm pleading with readers out there, and not just for my books, but for any author that you love. By all means, borrow the book from someone or check it out from the library to see if you like it, but if you really like the book and love the author's work, buy a copy for yourself. Of course if you simply can't afford the book, absolutely borrow it. I'm sure most authors would rather you read it for free than not read it at all. But if you can afford it, by all means, buy it. In that way, you are supporting your favorite author and keeping him or her in a position where they will be able to keep writing and putting out books that you enjoy.