There is a growing trend in society to believe that books should be free or heavily discounted and we have all been guilty of feeding into it. I pick up freebies but I am also happy to pay for the books I want. Maybe I can’t get all the ones I want but hey isn’t that just life? I see lots of clothes I like and I might be able to pick up a new dress for a special occasion or a new pair of jeans because my old ones have holes in where no self-respecting forty-something wants holes but I can’t buy every item that my heart desires. Certainly not on my non-existent income as an author. Just as well I have a full-time job that stops me from being a starving artist languishing in a garret with only bread and water to sustain me. My day-time job takes up a huge portion of my week and often leaves me drained but from somewhere I have to find the time for my passion which is writing. My dream would be my writing to take off and be able to write full-time but alas that can’t be at the moment.
Everyone of us has had people who ask for a free copy, I’d like to quote my friend and fellow author Chris Turnbull “erm No! There is no such thing as a free copy…even I don’t get a free copy and it’s my book.”
We do have a free copy on our computers, sure and we can send it to our Kindle device but if we want a print copy of our book, we have to pay – the proof copy isn’t even free. But let me tell you a bit more about what we’ve paid for: A beautiful cover, a feast to the eye, to tempt you, an editor to shape our words and spot mistakes and inconsistencies. And let’s be clear on this my editor and cover designer, both wonderful women who are also authors won’t accept it if I ask them to provide their services for free–which I wouldn’t do. Some people pay for marketing and do promotional giveaways.
I have three novelettes on the market at the moment and a pending novel (having the red pen treatment). A novelette is small, doesn’t require the same time frame to write it but I still used my time and I still paid for the above items. Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of my first novelette ‘As Dreams are Made on.’ Based only on the cover and editing alone I have lost £36.00 on it. So to recap, two years on and with 104 kindle sales and 16 paperback copies I am still in the red. I haven’t set my price high 0.99p/c because it is a short read. An hour or so of entertainment for under £1.00/$1.00 but still people want it for free. You could argue that if they like it they might buy one of my other books and yes that is true but lets also go back to the earlier paragraph where I acknowledged that I can’t buy all the books or clothes I like. So maybe it would generate sales–but maybe not.
Books aren’t just entertainment they are often an escape from reality –a reality that many people find challenging so given the duality of the product why do we question its value?
I’ve got an experiment for you to try (I won’t do it myself as I previously mentioned my busy schedule 🙂 )
Walk in to or phone your hairdresser and ask them if they will give you a free haircut.
Ring your garage next time your car needs a service or MOT and ask them to do it for free
Who loves having their nails done? Manicure? Pedicure? Facial? Let’s see about this freebie
The list is endless.
I would love to hear back from anyone who gets a freebie. Good luck and happy hunting.
But for this author who works endlessly and pays for the services I receive the only freebies I will consider are those that I choose to give for a promotional event which will require your participation.
For anyone who believes that authors should be paid for their work please leave a comment in support and it you are so inclined please share it with the hashtag #Booksarenotfree let’s get it trending.
If you are interested in my books follow the links:
If you want to know more about my books have a look at the other pages on this website. You can even see the reviews that I have left for the books I’ve read recently.
15 thoughts on “#Booksarenotfree”
Absolutely true! No one should be expected to give work away for free.
Agree, agree, agree 100%! Authors are not selling some meaningless product, a piece of plastic manufactured in Taiwan; we are selling a work of art which took hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to write and polish, a creation streaming straight out of our souls. Our blood, sweat and tears are not worthless commodities. I honestly don’t understand the mindset which places a higher monetary value on a cup of coffee than on a book someone slaved over, a book which provides entertainment and sometimes even enlightenment for far longer than the duration of sipping that coffee.
And incidentally, I have read all three of your novelletes, paid the 99c, and loved them all.
Reblogged this on Author D.M. Miller and commented:
Why should brand new books be free, and why do many readers today feel this sense of entitlement? Most likely, it is due to those writers who started the trend of giving their books away, if only for a shot to be noticed. Now however, it has backfired, and everyone says, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!”
But authors are not selling some meaningless product, a piece of plastic manufactured in Taiwan; we are selling a work of art which took hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to write and polish, a creation streaming straight out of our souls. Our blood, sweat and tears are not worthless commodities. I honestly don’t understand the mindset which places a higher monetary value on a cup of coffee than on a book someone slaved over, a book which provides entertainment and sometimes even enlightenment for far longer than the duration of sipping that coffee. Frankly, I make my coffee at home and spend that money saved on books!
Author Maria Gibbs addresses this issue, and I encourage everyone to read the entire post. Gibbs, by the way, has written three novelettes, and I’ve read them all. They’re well worth the measly 99 cents each, more than that actually.
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Reblogged this on Bonnie Ferrante – Books for Children and commented:
I don’t think people realize the effort and time that goes in to producing a good book. Six months to six years. This article is bang on.
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Very well said Maria. Books are so many things to so many people, and we often pay more dollars for items that are far less impactful and influential on our lives.
Traditionally published authors certainly don’t put their books out there for free, because their publishers would never allow it. Special promotions or giveaway events are a separate matter all together and they are always structured to gain the author something, whether it’s to gain reviews or grow an email list. This is part of the business aspect of being an author that many indie authors need to learn and understand. We are in fact authorpreneurs and we’re the ones who set our value. It’s also up to us to show our potential readers our value. I find that some authors seem to feel a level of entitlement when it comes to the value of their books, which ends up going too far to the other extreme. Readers should not expect to get books for free, just because. And authors should not expect readers to buy their books, just because. Ideally, authors should learn the ins and outs of effective marketing; they should price their books fairly; and they should show readers why their books are a good investment. Then they should nurture the relationships with their readers. Unfortunately it really does mean even more work, time and financial investment for the author – which strengthens the fact that authors should absolutely be charging a fair price for their works.
As a reader, I also have to be honest, I’ve stopped getting free copies of books. Primarily because there have been very few free books that I’ve tried to read that were in fact worth my time. I won’t say there are none, because yes, some have been decent. But I have been noticing that more of the books that I’ve paid a fair market value for are a better read and a better quality than the ratio within free books. My guess is that authors who are charging for their work have a financial investment into the quality of the book that free books rarely have. Unfortunately this does become a bit of a stereotype and I recognize that there are always exceptions. But it is still a factor that I really can’t overlook. I was raised with the belief that you get what you pay for. I’ve tested the theory in many different commodities and found it to be true – including with books.
authropreneurs. brilliant and so true.
People do not understand the amount of work that goes into a book. The writing is just one part of it. It’s an exhaustive process. The research, the planning, the drafts, the editing, the self-publishing, the artwork, and the constant marketing just to name a few. On top of that, we spend our own money on printing, copyrights, vendor fees at book festivals, promotional materials, ISBN #’s, etc. Both the money and hours I have spent on my books is well into the thousands.
I don’t know how many people have read my books and either asked if they could get a copy free or make the comment, ‘wow I could do this.’ To those people I say this, “I am glad my writing was so well done that I made it look easy for anyone to do. I implore you to write your very own book. When it’s finished, after the thousands of hours you have spent on it have passed and after you have spent thousands of dollars on your first run of books, please, let me see your book so I can ask you if I can get a copy for free.”
– Author/illustrator of rhyming, educational children’s books found at Morethanapoem.com
Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
Many people may see this as whining, but consider the points that the author of this superbly written piece makes…
Beautifully put! I refuse to do freebies now, even for promotion purposes. The lowest price I will put on one of my books is $1 / £1 – I hate the whole 99c/99p thing – but the amount of work that goes into even a short story from more than one person makes freebies too much of a lossmaker.
Lossmaker leaders may work in retail but in publishing only the big publishers can afford to absorb the loss…
Yes! It costs – money – but also oodles of TIME. My friends are surprised it takes so much time …. so are my writer friends’ friends, that it take them so much time … all our friends think writing is a fun job, and “Ooh, I’d love to be a writer’ (Answer, No, you wouldn’t, not unless you’re happy to spend your time and energy on it, … are you?’ And, it takes creative energy. So of course books must cost, financially! And most books, in paperback, aren’t that expensive. Entertainment for less than: a meal out, a visit to the cinema/theatre/a concert, much less than a visit to the opera … 🙂
Reblogged this on bookyglover and commented:
Books are not free! Read this article…
#BooksareNOTfree INDEED. You speak truth! Sure, it is nice someone shows interest in your work. But, it’s not so nice when they’re unwilling to pay for it. They think it’s only one book. Others think the same. Only one leads to two and three and before you know it, you’re out of “free-bees” and broke. No can do, Darlin. #authorsneedlovetoo 😉