Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everyone Likes "Free"

Free seems to be the magic word today, especially when it comes to ebooks. I hear comments like "there are so many free books, you don't have to buy anything." It's a great enticement to grab as many free books as you can. Some of my friends have hundreds of books on their device and they haven't paid a penny for any of them.

I like free, too. Who doesn't? But the truth of the matter is someone spent countless hours writing, revising, and formatting that book so others could have it for free. Interesting. As an author, I have made some of my books free for a brief period of time hoping to get name exposure; and sometimes my book would appear free weeks after I had changed the price to normal. Thousands of copies of my book were downloaded onto reader devices at no cost whatsoever to them. While I would like to build up a readership of loyal fans, I didn't plan my writing career to be an unpaid volunteer position.

When I made a decision to be a writer and not hold a day job, my goal wasn't to continue making the same amount of money I had in the corporate world. I wanted to pursue my passion for storytelling and share it with others who enjoy escaping into a good book. I want to entertain, to touch a heart, to bring a smile, a tear, enjoyment to those who read my words.

Writing isn't easy work. It takes months of writing, researching, editing, and rewriting to get my book ready for the public. I spend money on ink, software, paper, computers...all to put out a quality product. I send my work off to editors and then take their input to make the book even better. My story and characters are in the forefront of my mind while I'm driving, cleaning, gardening, cooking, and even in my sleep. It takes me six months from the idea stage to the finished product. That's a lot of hours. I don't know anyone who would go to work for six months for no pay, do you?

Readers might think writing is easy and perhaps that's why they don't think twice about that book they snagged for free. What do authors want from readers they have "given" their book to? Maybe an honest review from the place where they downloaded the book. Maybe a quick note to say "Thank you!" Maybe a recommendation to a friend.

As for me, I plan to "value" my hard work by putting a price tag on it. My books are currently priced at $2.99. What does that make the hourly wage? Less than two cents an hour. None of my friends or family would work for that kind of money. I'm happy to do so, and I hope readers will understand when I don't offer my services for free.

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