Cleaning Out My Office, One Book At A Time

Some dilemmas are so easily resolved, but it takes creativity.  Recently when my publisher “gifted” me with multiple cartons of my upcoming re-releases, I raised my hands to the heavens and shrieked.  Ask my assistant, she was there.  There is simply no place to put more books.  I already have a gazillion cartons–including my lovely Quilt Along With Emilie Richards volumes–hidden all over my house.  In closets.  Under tables.  In piles alone my office wall.  Not an inch of storage space is left.  Not anywhere.

I don’t live in a shoe.  I have a large house, purchased when the last child of my four was still home.  My husband and I both need home offices, and we’re a clergy family so entertaining comes with the territory.  At the time, a house that fit all those needs was essential, and while not the best designed house in Virginia, it suited our needs.  Which means that in addition to those already mentioned logistics, the house needed gardeners willing to do a lot of work on the back yard.  Sold.

Nowadays the son originally in residence is married and living in another state.  When our entire family gets together we usually do it  at another son’s home so we can spread out and enjoy country life.  Enthusiasm for the garden has waned as my husband and I have become busier, and to compensate, these days I’ve learned to appreciate “natural” landscaping.  After all the difference between a weed and a perennial is in the eye of the beholder.   We still need home offices and a guest room, but the most pressing need for a large house seems to be storage space.  For books.  Lots and lots of books.

How many books can one author have, you ask?  As the author of more than 60, I can say a lot!  I’m given a set number to use with each original printing.  Then when the books are re-released in a different format?  More of the same of each edition.  There are occasional “gifts” of books from my publisher when their own shelves need clearing.  Then there are foreign editions.  As lovely as they are, I have little personal use for novels in Greek, Polish or Icelandic.  The chances I will decide to take up Icelandic in my spare time is remote, at best.  I am wallowing in books.

I frequently get requests for signed copies of my novels for charity auctions or door prizes.  With exceptions for local charities, quilt groups I have a connection with and causes I personally support, I’ve stopped sending books.  Postage is expensive, and I received one too many emails on which my name wasn’t even in evidence.  If you can’t take the time to personalize a request for a freebie, you probably shouldn’t ask.

So that brings me to my newest cleaning strategy.  Facebook.   I already give away one book each month to a reader who has signed up for my email newsletter in the recent or distant past.   And while I’m woefully behind on announcing their names at my contest site, I’m still faithfully doing this.  So if you’ve signed up for my newsletter, watch your email.  If you haven’t signed up, what’s stopping you? 

But there’s a new chance to win books for the foreseeable future, as well.   This month I’ve asked my FB readers to take time to answer a question I pose, then chooses a winner several days later.  Right now readers are telling us their favorite way to spend a rainy afternoon.  Thursday at midnight is the deadline to comment.  The winner receives a signed copy of Touching Stars.

Will this new strategy really clear out my office?  Ummm. . . No.  But it will make my most faithful and active readers very happy and make a little space for the many more cartons on their way.  Everybody wins and we’ll have fun doing it.

So “like” me on Facebook, sign up for my newsletter, and take your chances.  My gift to you could be your gift to me.  You could be personally responsible for keeping me from tripping over a pile of books on my way to my desk.  Do an author a favor, okay?


  1. Carol Shick on October 6, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Dear Emily
    I have enjoyed reading your Shendoha series, as a quilter
    they are even more special. Did purchase the Quliting Along with Elity Sisters Choice, looking forward to making a quilt this winter from your book. Will look for more of your novels soon.
    Thanks Carol

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