a free-for-all

As an Indy Author, my novels are mine to control, completely, from head to toe as it were. I can use a POD like Lulu, I can create eBooks, I can post them for free on my website, I could even print them on toilet paper and hand them out to the homeless if I wanted.

And I do, all of the above, except the toilet paper thing.

Every now and then I’ll see a comment from a Traditional, bashing writers who “give it away” and curse how they’re ruining everything by giving publishers the wrong impression of what writing is worth. And I admit, these comments used to torque me, until I realized – after a friend explained it – that I’m taking it the wrong way.

That’s when it occurred to me the big difference between Giving it away, and Writing for free.

Giving It Away is what I’m doing every time I post a new novel online, to be read at no cost, by anyone who happens by. It’s something I do willingly, and with enthusiasm. I’m not seeking publication in a traditional sense, I’m secure and happy and doing my own Indy thing. I’m not even swimming in the same pool as the Traditionals who are writing articles for magazines or publications. I have my own floaties, and there’s no lifeguard.

Writing For Free is a whole other animal – and one that has no logical reason for being, y’ask me. This is when you’ve written an article, short story, or perhaps even a novel, and submitted it to a traditional publication of some sort, and had them explain to you that their method of payment is actually nothing more than “exposure.”

As a friend of mine likes to say, “exposure is something you die from”.

Too many small ePublications and magazines seem to think so much of themselves that they honestly believe just publishing your piece with them is such a high honor, you should bend over backwards and be grateful for the chance to be SEEN within their pages! After all, they have a circulation of (if they’re honest with themselves, about 10) and you should be thanking THEM.

If you’re a Traditional, and you write to be paid, why would you stand for this? You wouldn’t. So if you’re a Newbie, seeking traditional publication/payment for your writing – Don’t.

Don’t assume that because you’re new, or haven’t built your resume yet, that they’re doing you a favor. Try switching out “exposure” with “dying in the wilderness due to a lack of adequate clothing or gear.”

“I’m happy to inform you that your submission has been accepted! Now, as I’m sure you’re already aware, we don’t pay our writers cash. We offer them the opportunity to die in the wilderness due to a lack of adequate clothing or gear. So just sign here . . .”

Sounds a tad less exciting when put that way, doesn’t it?

So if your goal is to be paid for everything you write, and you’re seeking Traditional publication – don’t settle for less.

By the same token, don’t assume those of us who happily Give It Away are ruining the party for the rest of you, or doing so because “well, no one pays for writing anymore.” It’s Apples and Oranges here, folks. Over here in this pool, we’re twisting to a different tune. We’re not concerned with traditional publications, or taking up space in the magazines. We’re not the cause of the proliferation of douchebags who feel you should accept death-by-wilderness as payment for your work.

If you don’t want to give away your work, don’t. But you can’t blame us when you fail to find a market that pays cash, which is just as good as money.

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

This granola tastes like ass.

One thought on “a free-for-all

  1. Last week I just blogged on submitting and how the old school of thought when I was starting out is that you “give it away.” You send it to the non-paying markets as, I guess, a learning experience. The notion here is that as a beginner, you must suck and therefore no one is going to pay you until you’ve “built a name for yourself.”

    That’s a notion I’ve never agreed with even when first starting out. If you’re going to submit, then submit to get paid. Start at the top. Go to the best paying market, submit your story, if they reject it, go to the next best paying market and on and on until nobody wants it.

    Then rewrite the story and try again.

    If I can’t get paid for it, why should I give it away to someone else who is going to make money off of it? The magazine certainly doesn’t give itself away for free. Therefore, why should I give my writing to them for free?

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