Would You Work For Free?

There seems to be a trend among readers to only download free eBooks. I understand wanting to save money especially when it involves buying a book from an unknown indie author. But I ask, would you work for free? Writers, artists of all kinds, work hundreds of hours honing their craft. Although we do this because we love to write, in reality, being paid is nice as well. In our society money is a sign of value. If we give away all of our books, what does that say about how we value art?

What if the book is a dud? That’s what reviews are for. Leave a constructive review about why you didn’t like the book. Also, some vendors have a return policy. Readers wanting a free read abuse this policy sometimes, but overall I think most customers use it when the book is terrible. Instead of writing a long post about this, I would like to share one by friend and fellow author Karl Wiggins. By the way, if you like to read funny, raw (no holds barred) books, he’s the guy.


About D.K. Cassidy

14 Responses to Would You Work For Free?

  1. Of course everyone wants things for free. But it’s equally true that people will want things that are worth something more. The internet especially is a place of cheapskates. A group of isolationists whom a large portion of spend their time hacking and downloading movies from illegal sites such to watch it in a small window just so they can give it a bad review. I think the same of the written word, of actors, singers, painters, sculptures, and everyone who has tried to make a living through expressing themselves. People should pay for your talents. Period. THere need not be squeamishness about charging for your stories and books than there is to charge someone to fix their plumping, write a computer program or tell them to open their mouth and say “Aaaaaaaahhh!”. Too many people think they shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s talents and yet more don’t care and want to just put things out for free or lower prices to undercut other people. Authors need to be paid. Otherwise they can’t be authors anymore. THey should be supported, loved, cherished. That said there are a lot of mediocre or bad writers. THey need to get better. If they write something bad and charge for it, fine. but market may catch up to them as word gets out. But on the flipside a good story is worth more than money. So give to authors to support that there can be more.
    There IS such thing as marketing though. Marketing your work for free to get the word out and have people read and review your work so that more people will know it and buy your work as a whole. There is a LOT to that. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about doing things for free. FOr not getting paid for your efforts. We all need to not only make a living but be given the worth of our labors. Those that don’t undermine that and make it seem like the whole purpose of being an artist is worthless.

    • Profile Cover Art

      Exactly Matt. I’m not talking about using free for marketing. That is a blog post for another day. Artists should be paid for their efforts. Thank you for understanding and for your excellent reply 🙂

    • Well said, Matt. Believe it or not I’m in the middle of a Twitter argument with a guy who’s on a mission to give away one million books!

  2. This is a difficult question. In truth, I currently work for free. I post flash fiction, as well as two other columns, to my blog every week. I think, even if no one ever paid me for a story, I’d still write them. I have that love and passion for writing.

    However, that isn’t to suggest that I shouldn’t be paid for it. I dream of making a living off of my writing. And I am deeply worried that unlimited subscription services and the like, whether it be for books, music, games, or movies/tv, are devaluing entertainment. I’m guilty of indulging in it. I’ve got Hulu and I listen to IHeart radio.

    But what happens when we reach the tipping point? The quality is going to suffer. They won’t be able to make big budget movies if they don’t have the funds for that big budget. And like the article said, the self-publishing industry might just implode.

    One possible solution I’ve been kicking around my head, (which will never happen, mostly because I lack the technical and business knowhow) is to produce an alternate system. Amazon seems to have things locked down, but one of their downfalls is that they accept just about anyone. They don’t really care what books are on their website, as long as there are a lot of them. And one of the most harmful elements to indies is the idea that their books are lesser than trad published: less edited, bad content, contrived… This can be true. I’ve certainly opened a book and thought, ‘yuck’. Some people publish strictly for money, and don’t care if they put out a bad product. I don’t think there are all that many doing it, but it exists.

    Back to my alternative (and my apologies if something like this already exists):
    A website that accepts both traditional and self-pubbed books, but only after they’ve been vetted. A panel of people would review the books to ensure that they are quality offerings. To ensure that the best are kept, and since tastes vary from person to person, readers would be encouraged (perhaps by offering a discount on their next title) to leave a review. Good or bad (constructive). And we all know, reviews sell books. Think of it as an ungamable place where readers can really impact which books are popular, based on the merit of the book. All books start as equals. (I know that people market or have fans, and those things are great. But ideally, you wouldn’t have to.) All books could either be a flat rate, or more of an audible style, where they’re not unlimited, but so much cost for so many books per month… either way, the author makes a decent, and generally agreed upon amount. Not part of a pool, but money for books sold.

    It’d eliminate trying to undercut each other by pricing our books at free, or unlivable rates. It’d be writers giving the value back to their books. It’d be them standing up and saying, my book is good, it’s been vetted, and it is worth at least this much money. And customers, ideally, would trust the site to promote only quality books, and would be willing to pay for that quality.

    That’s something that I’d like to see. Author’s agreeing and reclaiming their value by means of quality.

    Hopefully that made sense. Maybe it’s not different enough. But I think that if Authors banded together and took their best works off of Kindle Unlimited (or Amazon altogether), KU would die, and readers would move on to the next thing.

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      I’m like you Angela, I write because I love it. Your idea about an alternate platform is brilliant! If only there was a rich, forward thinking person that could fund you.

      Your statement, And I am deeply worried that unlimited subscription services and the like, whether it be for books, music, games, or movies/tv, are devaluing entertainment. I’m guilty of indulging in it. I’ve got Hulu and I listen to IHeart radio. I subscribe to Netflix but don’t feel guilty about it because the actors, directors, etc were well paid when they originally made the movies. I worry about the unlimited book subscription services because of the ‘shared pot of money’ model. An 8k story gets the same payout as a 100k novel.

      Keep valuing your writing Angela. You deserve to be paid!

  3. I have never downloaded or read any book that’s free. By the same token, I will not give my books away. I put in a lot of manpower, invested in a professional editor and cover designer, I even pay my beta reader if I feel the MS was too messy when I sent it to her. So no, I would not work for free. Further, I’m of the opinion if the book was that great, he/she would not be giving it for free. I’m not in KU or any of those gimmicks the big A dreams up to entice unsuspecting people.

    Thanks but no thanks.

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      I’ve never given away any books for free except in a contest. It’s good you value your writing Ju. If only more authors felt that way, this crazy phenomenon of working for free might begin to lessen.

  4. Karl made the best point of all when he called it free advertising. I have a no money budget for marketing, so the only way my name gets out there is some free giveaways. It’s slowly helping.

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