I have always been the square peg when the world about me was teeming with round holes. I’ve never minded. Recent years, it has actually served me well and allowed me to step back and see through untainted vision what was happening around me, and I’m grateful for that.
What I’m going to talk about is not likely to garner me any friends in the literary world, but I think, in the interest of being able to look meself in the mirror, I need to say this to more than my immediate circle. We are in ‘the purge.’ I firmly believe this, and further believe that we are the ones who created the scenario which it is coming about.
There is a great amount of uproar about piracy sites, and the ‘mooch’ readers who want everything for free…but folks, we have created the situation where that is an expectation. It is not that we shouldn’t be compensated for our labor, quite the contrary, it is that in our zeal to reach the top spot on Amazon’s elusive algorithm, we have given away so much for free…free downloads of our work, free hard copies for release parties, free swag items that seem to get bigger and bigger, and free, free, free…if you can have milk everyday without a nickel, why would you seek to have one in your pocket tomorrow? The expectation is that we will eventually give it away because that is what we have done; so they just wait. They are out nothing, but we lose again and again. The piracy sites are the offspring of the impatient who just don’t want to wait for it…that and the infidels who need a medium to corrupt from for those who are otherwise cautious to scams.
Yes, I too have given away free things for promotions and takeover events, but have tried to limit them. In part because I can ill afford to give away so much. I am not wealthy; I am a writer with a dream to tell a story that lasts beyond my time here. Does that mean I value readers any less than the author who can afford to part with so many gifts, or copies? Not at all. It means that I have different financial priorities and keeping a roof over my family’s head is one of them.
I’ve been out in the publishing/writing world for three years now. I’m no more a household name than my cat is, but I can say this much; I have not had a single month since I started where I did not get paid. I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I’ve done the best I am able. And, I can look into the faces of my children and know that their dreams have not been short-changed as I pursued mine. That’s all I need.
Sure, I’d love more readers. I’d love more reviews. The challenge is that I’m not going to lose myself or my financial foothold to make it happen by giving away more than I make. I will pursue the piracy sites via DMCA notice, and will keep on doing what I can on the rest.
The purge I refer to is that I think we are in a time where, because so much available so cheap in many cases, we are seeing a time where we will find who can and cannot survive in this business. Who has the internal fortitude, and external support to survive this time of sales slumps and expectation of more for less or none at all. The only advice I have is if you love writing, hold on. The world as we know it has always been cyclic, this too shall pass. I have to believe that, or I’d be pulling the stakes and moving on.
Like I said in the beginning, this is not likely to earn me any friends as I point out what to me is obvious…we created this monster. But, I ask you each to take a moment and look objectively at the beast, he’s bigger than he used to be. Why? Because we fed him.