Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Money for nothing and your chicks for free...

I know you've heard this before, but if you want to make writing your career you have to understand that publishing is a business. For the next couple of weeks I want to talk about the business of writing. Let's begin with how businesses work. Businesses work by getting paid for work done. Its a fair exchange of value and services for something of equal value-such as cash.
Yes, dentists, and doctors, and lawyers do pro bono work- they sometimes offer their skills for free. Small businesses will offer samples in hopes of enticing customers into the store to buy. But no one stays in business long if they give away their product for free. So, please, think twice about free reads. Many authors are offering free electronic versions of their books on line. People love this- yay something for free. The problem with this is the reader then devalues your work. Why pay when I can get a different book for free?
Someone said to me, I'm going to self publish my book on-line. I've been reading the free reads and there are some really good books available on line. When I asked, have you bought any books from the authors you've been reading for free the answer was no. Huh. So, how will you get people to buy your book if all they do is read free books? Again, no answer.
There are certain circles of folks who believe that in future all books will be free. As in no one will be paid for services rendered. Great for readers. But not so great for writers. I truly believe if that happens, no one will be able to write for a living... Seriously, will we all write and polish and edit and market-for free? Would you do all this work for no pay? Some of you will say- yes, yes I will. My next question is -how long will you work and perfect your craft if you are not getting paid?
If there is no possibility of payment in future?
Books have value- in entertainment, in education, in magic. Never devalue your muse, your talent or your efforts. If you want to put up examples of your work, put up excerpts, entice readers like setting out small samples. But think twice before setting readers up with the expectation that you will do all the work while they give you nothing in exchange.
The first rule of business is to understand the value of the product and services you provide. (This works both ways- over valuing your work will ruin you as well.)
How do you determine the value of your work?


Marilyn Brant said...

Your Dire Straits title totally reeled me in, Nancy ;). Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful post and for saying so clearly what business owners and savvy writers know so well. Wishing you a wonderful week! xo

Jessica Nelson said...

Good post! I always wonder what's up with a whole novel for free? It does devalue the work, imo.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, did I put an ear worm in your head? LOL Thanks for stopping by. I hope your week is wonderful as well.

Hi Jessica, I agree. I think most writers, while we may dream of becoming millionaires, simply want others to value our work as much as they do. I think that's fair to say about any career. :D

~Sia McKye~ said...

I don't think there will be a time, at least not that I can foresee, of writers writing for free. Will there be promotions of a free book? Sure and like you said, it has a purpose behind it--getting new business.

I get a lot of free to me books and yes I do take advantage of free ebooks if it's by an author I'm curious about or want to see the quality of their writing. I've also purchased back list of those authors I do like.

Another thought: You are correct when you say this is a business. Except for a few authors, not one that pays a great deal. If you factor in money you get paid for the book by the amount of time put into to write it, edited, do rewrites and galley proofs. So love of what you do also comes into play.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia,
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You are so right-it is pennies per hour on books. But there is also the hope of making more. Free books takes away that hope.
I think that free books to reviewers like yourself to get the word out is great. I'm talking about free reads put up on websites. There are many readers out there who gobble these up without the intent of passing on good reviews or buying other books. They expect books to be free and refuse to buy. (This is not you.)
It's a crazy business. Thanks~

Nancy J. Parra said...

One more comment-for Sia-
Sia, you work for your supposed free books. You give authors value in your review and blog site exposure.
It is a fair and even trade.
You deserve the books you get. Cheers~

~Sia McKye~ said...

You're a sweetheart Nancy. Yes, I do work for those books. Some of those books require a lot of discipline to get through, lol!

I've also been gifted books by various authors--back lists and current just because. Those are special to me.

Speaking as a reviewer, there are rules we should follow too in this BUSINESS. Books supplied are not free books. They are provided by publishers and author for a reason--a review. Never take advantage of authors by putting them on the spot so they feel in any way obligated to give free books. I've known some who do that regularly.

It's all about being a professional--whether we write the books or review them.