Torn between the wish for people to read what you have written and the hope to be paid for your work?
As so many of my colleagues, I have started my author career late. The talent and creativity lay buried under discouragement, circumstances and low self-esteem. I deemed none of the stories coursing through my brain at all times worthy of writing down. I had no concept of the dynamics involved in creative writing. How the characters and story will take on a life of their own once you start. Self-deprecating thoughts like “Nobody would be interested in that!” kept me from starting.
Until that day the story hit. THE STORY was so compelling I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to read it. But it was only in my head, so I had to write it down.
Following the excitement of my first published book I have learned a lot. I have met many, many wonderful, talented authors, who struggle through the mountains and valleys of Indieverse just like I do. There is one thing we all have in common: We want our books out there. We want people to read them. We want to hear people say “Wow, what a great story. This really touched me. I could not put it down.” It’s what we live for, write for, fight for.
But then there’s the market. A market swamped with books. Some have extraordinary covers, but the story drags. Some have terrible covers not living up to the great story hidden in its folds. There is quantity without end while quality can only be detected by trial and error. Not to mention the marketing platforms dictating the game.
The name of the game? The customer is king. The reader decides which books he picks up. So authors will do anything to appease the king. Lure him; seduce him with promises of free reads and top bargains.
The problem is: Kings have learned a strict etiquette. Kings know how to behave themselves. Customers don’t. So if we roll out a red carpet for the customers, what do we get?
All readers want is bargains. Get as much reading experience for as little money as possible. They are not exactly subtle about it, either. And most of the time, they don’t even have the decency to leave a review. They just grab and devour and move on to the next.
If you belong to the minority of readers who diligently leave a review, please be assured I’m not talking about you!
There is one thing that stunned me recently. Authors are readers, too. And as readers, many authors act just the same as everybody else. They will wait for the books of their author friends to be free before downloading them. I have caught myself doing that, knowing full well that I’m feeding a sick system. We are all feeding this system. We all have our own excuses for doing so.
But I wonder what would happen if indie authors stopped feeding the system? What would happen if indie authors not only supported each other with reviews, likes and shares, but with actually buying books? What if indie authors stopped offering their quality work for free?
I feel myself wince. I hear myself whine “But who will read my story?”
I am torn. I believe my story has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. I want people to read it. But I don’t want to throw it out for free, because of a piece of wisdom my husband offered me from his marketing experience:
“If it costs nothing, it’s worth nothing.”
My dear indie friends, your work is worth something. Customers should pay for it. They should know, as any king would, that there is value in a book.
I have made a decision not to offer freebies anymore. My books aren’t expensive. If readers are unwilling to pay for them, then they will remain unread. So be it.
I might read less because my budget is tight. But I will buy the books I want to read because authors deserve to be paid for their work.
I will review what I read, but without any rating. I will simply say what impressed me about the story. And if the story blew me away, I will award it with a badge. I will post my reviews on my blog, on Twitter and Facebook to get the author’s name out there.