The Cow’s Not Even for SALE!!!

So, you know that saying that all mothers in the 1950’s used to apparently tell their daughters? (At least I assume this to be the case, since every mom I’ve met repeats it often and with great enthusiasm. But just in case you’re male and/or have been raised in some kind of sedentary wilderness, I’m referring to the “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” adage.) Well, I used to think that phrase applied to life in a social sense as well as a moral one.

Recently, a writer friend of mine suggested that if someone wants to become an author, they should start marketing themselves as such BEFORE they actually become published. As in, years before.

Now, as a person who has always been a bit wary of bestowing titles–for example, I never liked calling myself a journalist, even though I was paid to be one for years–I found this idea to be more than a little backwards. Like not just chicken vs. egg paradoxical, but ‘counting eggs before they hatch’ wrong-o. (And there’s another helpful old adage for you, while we’re at it. Though, technically, can I just point out that you CAN’T count eggs once they’re hatched because at that point they cease to be eggs and become chickens… Semantics. I love them so!) But because I’m trying to “turn over a new leaf”–another fun saying–and try new things, I decided to become more socially active, as it were, both on the older forms of media I’d been neglecting (blog) and new ones I’d been loath to experiment with.

(Um, hey, quick observational cliché: are my posts really full of double entendres lately, or is it just me?)

Anyway, now that I’ve started down the path of social media promiscuity so to speak, my question is this: does reading little bits here and there of what a writer/author is “about” make you want to read and follow that person once they are published? Or does drinking the metaphorical milk indeed make you less likely to “buy the cow” (or the book) when the time comes?

As always, I both invite and brace myself for your opinions. (Again with the suggestive terminology. Incorrigible!)

7 thoughts on “The Cow’s Not Even for SALE!!!

  1. Hey there,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog posts for a while now (no double entendre intended there, either 😉 I’m glad you started hitting Twitter or I would never have found this site, most probably.

    My experience, so far, is that Twitter and Facebook have helped out in an once-removed fashion. I use both of them to give away free short fiction (from my own site and through other online zines that publish free fiction) and that’s helped sell more than a few books.

    The social part of it pays off for me pretty well. The short stories do most of the selling when it comes to the books, but I’ve engaged a few people here and there (fans on fb, followers on twitter) and made sales through word of mouth in that manner. I enjoy chatting with people, so that kind of promotion is the easiest for me. The only thing that sometimes throws people off is that my fiction is much more dark than my humor.

    Still I’ve made a decent amount of sales through interacting with fans and followers (and the people they recommend me to). Of course, I give a lot away for free to get those sales (A serial fiction novel always going and a free short story per month). These folks have proven to be repeat customers.

    I do find, however, that my short story Kindle sales are zero (because I give them away) and I would assume that, if I were to give away a book to promote it, it wouldn’t convert. That just makes sense.

    I’m prying my eyes open to finish this comment before I fall asleep. Hopefully it’s been helpful (and made sense 😉

    Best wishes with your blog and your work!

    , Mike (twitter: mikegolvach – FB “The fictional works of Michael Govach – As opposed to the real ones”)

    1. Excellent advice! Thank you so much for the comment, and also for following me on twitter! And a great big AMEN to the “my fiction is much more dark than my humor” comment. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I’m loath to share my work in progress with friends and family. I don’t want them to think I’m some kind of reprobate, you know? (Although, I very well might be one, now that I think about it…)

      1. Hey,

        No problem at all. And thank you for the follow, as well. I started following you because you were funny, and was pleasantly surprised that you were also an author.

        And, yes, I rarely share anything in progress with my friends or family. Some stuff, I get in trouble for even after it’s done.

        If you have the time and the notion, this short story is not one of my personal favorites, but it did, for some reason, cause a whole bunch of people to think I was planning to off myself. I gave them no other reason to believe that I was thinking that. Just tried to write convincingly from that place. No one seemed to comprehend that it’s fiction. Sure some parts of myself are in there, but that can’t be helped (or can it? That’s another good topic for discussion) Give it a read if you’d like. I’d be interested in hearing another writer’s opinion on it. Feel free, also, to black out the link if posting that here is improper etiquette.

        Click to access Four_Leaf_Clover_With_Cover.pdf

        In any event, what other people think shouldn’t stop any of us from writing. If you’ve got the gift, you should do it for yourself and the people who support you. Criticizers and destroyers don’t exist in a meaningful way. Being a creator (an author, painter, poet, musician, etc) is beneficial.

        I’m sorry. Did I go way off-topic? 😉

        Best wishes,


  2. It’s my experience in today’s day and age that knowing “everything” about a figure is a type of social status.

    So when you’re an famous author/journalist, I will relish confessing on my blog that I subscribed to “Call Me Cordelia.”

    In this particular case, I believe drinking the milk makes you more willing invest in the cow.

    1. I am both touched and amused by this assertion. Perhaps there is yet some hope for the world at large, if people actually prefer to follow and/or support the careers of people who are open about their flaws. Yay!

  3. btw… incorrigible… hmm. I like the word usage. I was just invited this Wednesday to join a group of friends for karaoke. I am now determined to keep my eye open for someone whom I would consider “incorrigible.”

    1. Incorrigible: adj – impervious to correction by punishment. I’m pretty sure you won’t have to look far, at least not in a karaoke bar.

      As for me, I’m pretty sure that incorrigibility (if that’s a word) was one of my most common identifiers as a child.

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