Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Would You Work for Free???

A writer friend recently received a fan letter asking why all her books aren't free?

 Another writer I've heard of got a letter from a woman saying she steals the writer's books. You heard me right. She downloads them from Amazon, reads them, and then she returns them so she can get her money back. I think it's okay to return a book if you haven't read the whole thing already, and if you bought it with the intention of keeping it. This woman was shameless in her confession and let the writer know that she doesn't think she should have to pay for books.

 I've also read a fan letter sent to another author that clearly states .99 cents to 2.99 is too much to pay for a book. So she also thinks they should be free. For the most part I don't think readers like this are pure evil, just ignorant of some facts. They would probably feel differently if they knew those facts. Well, maybe not the woman who enjoys stealing books from authors. To her, I would just point out that libraries offer free books. Plus, there are so many free ones offered by the author that no one needs to steal anything. So the woman enjoys certain series enough to keep reading, but she's too cheap to pay for it. She doesn't value the author's work.

 I would love to go to where these people work and ask them why I can't have their service/product/whatever for free. Seriously. If it's a teen babysitting, would she watch the kids for free? Don't think so.

If they work for a big company, would they tell their boss they'll gladly do the job for nothing? Yeah, right.

If they sell Avon, would they give the stuff away? Nope.

So why do people expect authors to give their books away?

 Anyway, here are the facts I was talking about earlier that readers need to keep in mind when they start to moan about the 99 cents or 2.99 or whatever the price is on the book.
  1. Books take a LONG time to write. We don't just crank them out. I spend countless hours planning out the plot, outlining, doing character sketches, rearranging scenes, etc. Then I spend months, sometimes even a whole year writing the book. After that it's time for rewrites, revisions, and edits. So even if I charged 5.99 a book (which I don't), I still wouldn't be making minimum wage.
  2. Writers have to pay editors (that usually runs hundreds of dollars), a cover artist (some charge $600 for this), and let's not forget promotions. Everyone out there seems to be offering promotional help to authors... for a fee, of course. Some things cost a lot and don't even work.
  3. We are taking time away from our families to write, spending long hours sitting in front of a computer. I, for one, get bad eyestrain and nasty headaches after working on just one chapter.
  4. Writers have bills just like you do. We have to pay electric, water, gas, car and house payments, and buy food. Some of us work at writing full-time even though we are not making enough money to support ourselves yet. We live day by day and do what we can to keep the dream alive.
I know it makes authors crazy to get fan mail like the ones I described above, but I don't see it stopping. There will always be people that want stuff for free, rude people, and people who say crazy stuff without thinking.

 Remember, next time you buy a book, think about the hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that went into creating it. Before you begrudge the writer a few dollars, ask yourself this question: Would you work for free?