How do I keep people from loaning my book so I don’t lose sales?

You don’t.

You are in business to help people. Of course you need to make a living, and you’d like to make a good one, but if your business is only about money, you’re in the wrong business.

If you’re truly in business to help others, to make the world a better place, the more people you help the better. Your goal is to spread your message. Plant as many seeds as possible so you can reap the biggest harvest.

Not all seeds grow. You can’t know — can not know — which ones will grow. The math is simple: the more seeds you plant the more seeds grow and the more you reap.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1093345 by shawnisa http://www.sxc.hu/profile/shawnisa

Your book is not the seed. The seed is your message. I’ll say it again: the seed is, not your book, but the message in your book.

Your book is a souvenir of your message. A souvenir is a physical artifact of the memories we value.

When my wife and I became nomads a couple years ago, we got rid of 80% of our possessions. The big stuff was easy. The little stuff, the souvenirs, not so easy. I’m a collector, and I was attached to my stuff. Every item had an emotional connection.

I finally came up with a counter-intuitive method for sorting keep from toss. Things connected to memories I knew I’d always have, I kept. Things connected to lesser memories, to things I hadn’t thought about for years, didn’t feel as strongly about, I let go.

Deciding which memories were most important determined what I kept. That decision made the difference between finishing the job to start our new life, and collapsing like a wet tissue.

Your book is a souvenir, tangible evidence of something important to your readers. Consciously or unconsciously, they’ll keep and use the books which contain, not the things they’re likely to forget, but the things they’ll always want to remember.

This means two things: folks who borrow your book from a friend or a library and who value its lesson will go buy a copy so they have their own souvenir. As a result, your book will spread best among those who have the most to gain from it, your biggest fans.

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