Do we really need to be bribed to read a book?

briberyThis may possibly be classified as a rant …

On the brink of publishing my fourth book in my Roma Nova thriller series, I am marshalling my PR/marketing campaign: arranging blog appearances, organising reviews, showing off the AURELIA cover and book trailer video. I’m also writing a daily series of ‘blogettes’ about Roma Nova, books, etc. on my Roma Nova book site. All legitimate stuff to promote a new book.

But an increasing trend is the almost frenetic urge to give small extras away – bookmarks, photos, drawings, postcards, badges, even used event tickets – as if they were great prizes. Sometimes, it’s more significant – an e-reader or a retailer gift card for $20 or more.

Now I’m a fan of letting people know your book is coming out. I also keep my newsletter readers abreast of my writing progress (or lack of it!). I even offer a book giveaway for the best comment on other people’s sites where I’m a guest. It’s a little way of thanking the host by attracting extra traffic to their site.

I’m not so simple that I don’t realise this ‘gifting’ is to create a buzz for the book. But I think it’s now teetering on bribery.

I’m not being precious – I like a bargain along with anybody else and sometimes offer my previous books at a discounted price for a short period. At fairs, I offer an imperial purple and gold pen to anybody who wants one, and for those who attend one of my talks or have bought or buy all three of the first books, I give them a special Roma Nova badge. These are rewards, a thank you – a big difference from bribes.

At the beginning of a book’s career, we should be celebrating it, not offering bribes to read it. If it’s that bad, we shouldn’t be publishing it at all. We are in danger of making our creative work look like today’s BOGOF, something you have to be given a monetary or other incentive to read. It’s undignified. But worse, we are infantilising our readers if we think they are going to fall for it.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO. The fourth book, AURELIA, is due out on 5 May 2015.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines…

16 comments to Do we really need to be bribed to read a book?

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