So yesterday there were two topics I gave consideration to for the blog. Today I broach the second topic - giving away our product. Yes, writing is a product.
It is tough to tell an artist what to do with their product, after all, the greatest thing about art is it is absolutely the product of he or she who creates the art. If I create a painting and decide to simply give it away to everyone, then everyone would get to appreciate that art without the feeling of some sort of debt of gratitude. In a perfect world, all art would be free to admire. But as soon as it is something we want to "own" there must be a price associated with that ownership.
If we do not put a price tag on writing, then the entirety of the concept is devalued. My words can exist for admiration at a library for all to see, that is a manner in which art can be had for "free" but even then, it is not free. We, as taxpayers, provide the funding for the creation and continued existence of all libraries. There is a cost associated with each and every book that is 'checked out' by someone in a library.
Yes, every author has the right to say "it's my work, how dare you tell me what to do with it" but that does not mean that they should just give it away. The biggest criticism surrounding independent authors is that there is a lack of professionalism and that we are simply 'vanity' publishing our work. The belief is that this vanity publishing makes all writers look bad and saturates the market with a lot of drivel and, frankly, bad writing. When we feel something is of value, we associate that with some monetary means. Giving it away says "it is of so little value, that I cannot in good conscience sell it for any price."
Hell, even a one-dollar book seems to carry a bit of the "worthless moniker" along with its deflated price. (Yes, this is ironic since I have an ebook of some of my sports articles compiled for $0.99, but that is a collection of works for which I was already remunerated previously and felt like compiling as a way to put the whole collection together.)
There is a large pricing strategy battle going on between some of the old school publishing houses and Amazon. That issue exists for a reason. The publishers want independent publishing gone, and Amazon wants to push out the old school publishing model. They saw the success had by E.L. James and they want a piece of the action. With hardly any work on their part, other than the already existent binary code which makes self-publishing as easy as baking a pie (probably easier), they get 30 percent of sales. Imagine the amount of income they could have made had the "Fifty Shades" trio of books been published through Amazon solely. The thing sold 100 MILLION books. Multiply that by, say a nominal self published e-book price of $2.99... that is 30 percent of 300 million dollars... for no work!
Amazon has been operating at a loss for a very long time and the publishing world is an opportunity for them to generate revenue without incurring costs.
What does that mean to us authors? especially the independent authors? Free is murder. It will virtually destroy the concept of independent writing. The big publishing houses will win the battle as they "prove" through all of the free books that independent writers are not the same quality as "traditionally published" writers.
So, my solution is simple. You are the author and want to give your stuff away? go ahead. But don't waste the space of Amazon and all of the other self publishing sites. Conveniently convert your work to a PDF format and send it out for free to whomever you please.
There is value in what I do. to give it away devalues the work, the process and the entire community of writers. Even prostitutes don't give freebies!