The question was posed in a local writers’ magazine.
A friend has just published her first book and has invited me to the book launch. I don’t read in her genre. Do I have to buy the book?
The answer, from an author who had published a number of books, and is respected in the industry, was:
Of course you should buy the book. You’re there to support your friend.
I understand this is what is expected, but I disagree. Totally.
Given the above answer, I expect that friend will make an excuse and not go to the book launch at all.
What makes a successful book launch?
Buzz. What makes a buzz? People.
If I was the questioner’s author friend, I’d just be happy my friend came along to support me. A common writer’s nightmare is the book launch or book signing or book talk where no-one turns up. (Signing in the Waldenbooks, anyone?) The best support your friends can give you is to come.
Not to buy your books.
A lot of my friends don’t read science fiction or fantasy. I don’t expect them to buy our books. If I was doing a book launch I’d be just as happy if they came along. If I’m launching or signing in a bookstore and they felt obligated to buy a book they should buy one they want to read. I’m happy, I get the crowds. The bookstore’s happy, they get a sale. The two combined means it’s more likely they’ll invite me back.
There are some friends whose books I’ll buy when they get published because I want to support them. But I don’t think one should ever go to a book launch feeling obligated to buy the author’s book.
That’s like asking your friends to pay to come.