Sunday, January 03, 2016

Pay the Writer?

I just read a repost on Passive Voice called Pay the Writer. And I disagreed with most of it.

Why?

Because no one owes me a living.

Repeat that to yourself. Say it out loud if you need to.

No one owes me a living.

A sense of entitlement is a dangerous thing. If you're lucky, you'll find readers. If you're really lucky, you'll make a few bucks.

But just because you can string a few pretty sentences together doesn't mean you get to earn a living.

I know how hard you work, because I also work hard. But I'm not entitled to earning a living, either.

It's a very dangerous thing when writers start to believe that they are owed something for their work. It's also fallacious.

Let's say you're a ditch digger, because--as a wise man once said--the world needs ditch diggers too. And you spend 8 hours digging a ditch, busting your ass in the hot sun.

Do you deserve to be paid?

Sure, if someone hired you to dig that ditch. If you're just randomly digging ditches that no one commissioned, on property no one owns, you don't deserve anything. You're an idiot. Or a dreamer. Or both.

Same thing with writing. Just because you wrote it, doesn't mean you deserve to be paid for it.

Q: But! But! But! But what if someone reads what I wrote? Don't I deserve to be paid then?

A: Someone reading your book is not the same as someone hiring you to dig a ditch.

First of all, when you write a book, you can potentially have an infinite number of readers. Let's say you work on it for three months. Well, someday your great-great-great-great grandchildren might read that book in the year 2155. Do you really think you deserve to get paid for something you wrote 139 years ago?

That ditch digger, assuming he was hired, dug a ditch and got paid for his time. He doesn't continue to get paid every time someone looks at his ditch. He got paid for the hours he put in, then he didn't get paid anymore.

The doctor who got a $700,000 salary for 2015 got paid $700,000 for 2015, and no more. He doesn't continue to earn money on hours he worked last year.

Are Khufu's relatives still getting royalties every time someone visits the pyramids?

Intellectual Property, which is protected by archaic copyright laws, can allow creators to continue to get paid for things they wrote long ago, for long into the future.

Personally, I don't think that's fair. And I've blogged about that at length in the past. But we'll hold off on making this an argument about reforming copyright, and focus on the belief that if a writer spends an hour on a story, they deserve to be paid over and over for that hour for eternity.

It doesn't make sense.

Q: But! But! But if someone reads a book, shouldn't they pay?

A: Not necessarily. You don't pay the writer if you check out a book at a library, or buy it used, or borrow it from your buddy.

Q: That's because readers haven't been properly taught that those venues don't pay writers.

A: Kinda like teenagers haven't been taught that drugs are bad? Do you think being taught makes a difference? While you answer that I'll be over here, getting stoned with my teenage son.

Heads up: there has always been free media. You could spend fifty lifetimes reading books and watching videos and never pay a cent. Welcome to the digital world. It's here to stay.

And beyond the free stuff out there, I believe subscriptions are quickly outpacing sales when it comes to ebooks (according to my own numbers). Kindle Unlimited pays me less for borrows than it does for sales, and my sales continue to go down as borrows go up.

Also, whining to your customers that they should spend more money on your work because you're not getting paid, and calling that "education", isn't a wise way to get in their good graces. Just sayin'.

Q: So are you okay with this borrowing trend?

A: It is what it is. Educating readers isn't going to change anything. Pleading with Amazon for scraps won't change anything. I expect this trend to continue, and whining isn't the answer.

Q: What is the answer?

A: The answer is looking for new ways to monetize your IP. But, again, that isn't the object of this blog post. This blog post is about writers who believe they deserve to be paid. I think this attitude is bad, and potentially dangerous. Encouraging a sense of entitlement isn't a good thing. Irritating readers is shitting where you eat. Believing that you deserve to earn $100 an hour on a book you wrote in 2005 is nuts--and I say that having ran a BookBub ad yesterday for Bloody Mary, which I wrote in 2005. I sold over 3000 copies and made about $2400.

I don't deserve this. I'm lucky as fuck.

Q: So what attitude should writers have?

A: I hope to be read. Any way possible. Free books, libraries, loans, used, whatever. I believe that the more readers who find me--whether they pay for it or not--the better off I'll be.

Q: But what if two million people read you but no one pays you?

A: If I have two million fans and I can't figure out how to make money off of that, then I'm an idiot.

But rather than try to squeeze money from every single person who ever glances at one of my IPs, I think the smarter thing is to sell stuff to people who want to buy stuff.

I don't fear free ebooks. I fear obscurity.

Q: And what if everything becomes free and no one buys ebooks anymore?

A: That could happen someday. But something will come along and monetize that model. Where there are fans, there is cash spent. I can't think of any situation that works differently.

But we shouldn't be expecting all fans to pay. We shouldn't be whining that we're owed something. As a writer, you're contributing to the collective creative output of the species. Good for you. But no one is forcing you to this. If you can get paid, awesome. If you can't, go find someone to pay you to dig a ditch.

Blaming Amazon, or bookstores, or libraries, or ebooks, or readers, for your inability to turn your clever words into eternal and infinite cash isn't the way to go. Less time whining and blaming, more time writing and innovating.

Q: But what about piracy? What if people are stealing my stuff?

A: You mean like someone broke into your house and stole your bike, thereby preventing you from continuing to ride that bike?

Q: No. I mean stealing my IP.

A: You mean plagiarism and bootlegging? They're selling your ebooks without your permission and keeping all the money?

Q: No. I mean they're reading my ebooks without paying.

A: Like at a library or used bookstore?

Q: Yeah! I mean no. What it they got it by file sharing?

A: Are you telling me that it upsets you when someone goes through the trouble of downloading your ebook and reading it?

Q: Yes. Without paying me.

A: Because you think you deserve to be paid every time someone reads you?

Q: Yes.

A: Do you pay the creator of every YouTube video you watch for free?

Q: No. But they have ads.

A: Then maybe your ebooks should have ads.

Q: They choose to put their work on YouTube. I don't choose to be file shared! I'm being pirated, man!

A: I've blogged at length at how I don't mind piracy. But, again, that's a topic for another blog post. This one is talking about writers who feel they deserve to be paid.

If you feel you deserve to be paid, and get upset that people are pirating you, there is an easy solution: stop writing.

There is no one forcing you to write. And certainly no one forcing you to try and sell what you've written. You wouldn't go swimming in shark infested waters, would you? Especially if you were bleeding.

Well, writing an ebook and then being shocked that you were pirated is the same thing. If you don't want to get eaten, stay out of the water.

Piracy isn't going away. Go do something else with your precious time if piracy bothers you, because if you create any sort of IP that anyone is interested in, that IP will be pirated.

Not only are you not owed a living, but you will never stop people who want to experience and share your work for free. Our species shares information, freely. It's the reason civilization exists. To try to limit that is a fast track to censorship and flies in the face of net neutrality. The reason oppressive regimes have always existed is because of their ability to limit information and the free exchange of ideas. Sorry, but I support open and free sharing of ideas over your insistence that you earn $2.74 from every person your reads your opus.

Q: You're a hypocrite. Why don't you write for free if you love free so much?

A: I'm not saying writers shouldn't be able to make a few bucks if they can. I'm saying the world doesn't owe them, so stop whining about it. I consider myself lucky to be read, and even luckier that there are avenues where I can make some money. But I also understand that getting rid of libraries and used book stores and piracy would be a bad thing, even though I don't make money in those venues.

Do you really want to prevent people from reading your work because they can't afford it?

Do you want to miss making a fan because they don't want to spend any money on you until they've tried you for free first?

Do you really think they only value books have is what people pay for them? And that everything available for free has zero value?

Do you believe that berating your customers and potential customers is ever a good thing?

You insist the writer get paid?

Instead, thank the reader.

Because if you get enough readers--no matter how you acquire them--the money will follow.

101 comments:

ADMartinez said...

This post makes me think of Twitch. I have been addicted to Twitch lately. I haven't donated or subscribed...yet, but I have spent hours being entertained by various different streamers.

No one has to donate or subscribe to enjoy the content, but plenty of people do donate and subscribe. It is fascinating, and I believe it ties into: "Where there are fans, there is cash spent." and "But we shouldn't be expecting all fans to pay."

Gerald Hornsby said...

Hurrah!

I am so fed up with writers who think the world owed them a living. I laugh when writers announce they're going to flounce back to a 'proper' job because they're not being paid enough.

They're not writers. They're chancers, thinking stringing words together is a quick and easy way to make a few bucks. And good riddance to them, because writers love creating stories, and love being read. If they make a bit of money along the way, then great.

But it's all about the stories. Writers write stories, and they don't stop just because they're not being paid enough.

Veronica said...

I've been doing a lot more research into "Internet Marketing" rather than just "Book Marketing."

DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online was recommended to me and I've gotten a lot out of it. (http://amzn.to/1ZJgpGS)

One thing that it emphasizes is having a "funnel" for customers to move through. Often the funnel starts with something free, moves to something low cost, and then up from there. The author's funnel tops out at a $1,000,000 service.

Many authors have only books to offer. They don't create any higher cost products for fans to purchase next. Loads of authors don't even have a second book!

If you ONLY have an ebook to offer and you don't get paid for the consumption of that book, it can sting. If you have MORE than just an ebook to offer, you can get paid for the next level of engagement.

What sort of thing can authors add as next levels? Conference calls to talk about writing or story, skype book readings, character or setting naming rights, "pick my next project," etc. etc.

I'm sure there are loads of ways.

Personally, I'm a non-fiction author so I have retreats, recordings, private consultations, and all that. My 2016 project is to create, multiple clear funnels so that people new to my work have a step-by-step path into it.

Frank Powers said...

I've discovered many writers on folding tables at yard sales, at used book stores, and at the library. If I like what I read, I'm the kind of person that will go out and buy new books by that author. I can't imagine any of those writers would rather I never read them in the first place even though they likely got nothing from that original exposure.

Anonymous said...

What are we supposed to do with used books? Burn them all so they can't be read by someone else for free?

Bruno Stella said...

I'm not altogether sure that I agree with you on this one Mr Konrath.

It's the way of the world to get paid over and over for work "that you once did".

If I have a bunch of money in the bank, or invested, do I not get paid over and over for simply possessing that money? Not only that, but the income earned on that money gets compounded, so not only will I be getting paid for having had that money 20 years ago, but I will be paid MORE in the future.

Having said that, I agree with the gist of the post, which is HTFU. I'm nearly done with my 3rd book (4th if you count a short story collection) and I think I've sold three whole copies, to friends and family.

(I had a genuine sale once, but they returned it for a refund. :D )

I've still not stopped writing, though.

J.K. Brown said...

Another great post, sir!

I do disagree with you on the idea of getting paid down the line for the work you do now. Even in your analogy, let's say the ditch digger didn't get hired to dig his ditches. Of course, he can't just charge people to look at his ditch, either. Waste of time and effort to dig all that ground, right? Wrong! He CAN charge people to use his ditch! In Arizona, the water company makes a killing from selling water through hundred-year-old ditches to farmers. Everybody wins in that system.

Point being, we shouldn't think of our time invested in books as by-hour/salary income, but as an investment. If I'm hoping to make a few bucks from my IP, I should be looking to make that money back over the long haul rather than the here and now. Being able to potentially build your own pension from the work you did 50 years ago? Seems much smarter than just working 9 bucks an hour at McDonalds hoping to save for retirement.

I know as a newer author, I'm getting nothing back initially for the hundreds-thousands of hours I've put into my IPs so far, and that's okay! If it supplements or even becomes my income later down the road, great. If it doesn't, that's okay too. Just have to keep investing until something sticks. I do agree with you about how copyrights themselves work should be changed, but that for another time.

Alan Spade said...

Joe, I don't want to put words in her mouth (I don't know her, by the way), but I think Kirsten Lamb would agree with you about the fact that anything that favors reading, used bookstores and file-sharing included, favors all the authors.

Her main point was, it seems: "To be clear, I do not mind used bookstores. What I mind is the attitude that somehow digital is bad and Amazon is bad whereas “paper” and used bookstores are “cultural” and therefore GOOD and preferable for writers.

Want to support civilization? Buy old books. Want to support a writer and his/her family and career? Buy new ones or e-books."

Bruno Stella made a great point about income earned on money simply possessed. You must be aware that nowadays, there is more money produced by financial institutions than money produced by human work.

The richest people in the planet earn more money because of the money they already possess than all the other people because of their work.

As a man who once said that his heirs should gain their money on their own and not from an inheritance, this should tickle you.

Even if you are digging some ditches that no one cares about, I think that it's the most natural and human thing, thinking that other humans owes you a living for your work.

Why? Because we are social animals. We live in a society, and we are not isolated beings self-sufficient at 100%. I cannot imagine someone digging ditches every day just for the sake of digging ditches.

I'm not fond about lecturing people or being lectured, but contrary to you, yes, I'm a big believer in education.

Education is why all of us authors are being paid. I believe in education whose truth you can feel in your own bones. When I say to my son: "don't do to others what you don't want done to you" (a Confucius quote, by the way), I'm teaching him to develop his empathy, because I think it's an essential skill for human beings to develop - and one that is unlearned by both traders and speculators, BTW.

In my opinion, Kristen Lamb seeks to improve empathy towards authors among readers.

The heart of the matter is: "are authors more deserving than the owners of used bookstores?" Well, in 2015, I did personally send a box set of my fantasy trilogy as a gift to the owner of a used bookstore, because I heard (with no proof at all) that he was promoting my books among his readers of used books. I never met him.

But even if I acknowledge the importance of book lovers, I am, first and above all, a creator. If I had to choose between an author and a salesperson, I would choose the author in a blink of an eye. That's what Kristen Lamb wanted to emphasize, IMO. I agree with her.

That's the fight all the authors should fight.

warriorwriters said...

You completely missed the point of the post and the Passive Voice didn't post it in entirety. NO ONE OWES ME ANYTHING and I NEVER SAID THAT.


What I DID say is that it is not good business for writers to promote venues they make NO MONEY at the expense of places they DO.

It is UNWISE to promote articles that also DEMONIZE places that PAY writers and that pay them WELL.

That Washington Post article wasn't just saying used bookstores were nifty. It was demonizing digital and Amazon as if they are harming writers when those are the two greatest sources of author income. The article was acting as if USED bookstores were somehow preferable to writers, which is patently untrue.

It was using this popular trend to Amazon and Digital bash and writers were fanning the flames.

Are used books/bookstores BAD? No. Of course not. But are they preferable to a first-time new sale where a writer gets royalties? NO.

Do used bookstores actively help a traditional author sell out a print run so she gets a new contract? NO.

And I said repeatedly that fine. Buy used. I buy used. Go ahead. That isn't the issue.

The issue is that we WRITERS cannot promote articles that bash our greatest revenue streams and then COMPLAIN they make no money. That is BAD BUSINESS. And when I point out writers are being BAD BUSINESS people…I'm whining?

All I said was to let people know that discovery means jack diddly crap if it is not then followed up with a sale. SO, if they really like your book, then please buy.

That's called being a SALESPERSON. We work a job that is 100% COMMISSION, which means we have to SELL. Selling is not BEGGING though it can feel that way.

When I say, hey here is a free sample of enchiladas, if you would like more, you need to BUY them. I am SELLING enchiladas. No one OWES me. If they get a sample (used bookstore) and don't like it? Eh, I tried. But if they want more enchiladas, they need to BUY them if they want me to keep making more enchiladas.

That's how capitalism works.

If regular everyday people posted the article bashing Amazon and promoting used bookstores? Eh, ok. But writers? That's unwise business.

If a regular person posted an article on Facebook about how to sell your home For Sale By Owner and how profits were SO AWESOME selling on your OWN! That's fine. But if a real estate agent did it? That person is a MORON.

If that real estate agent then bitched they hadn't made any commission selling homes (but was sharing articles about For Sale By Owner) then that real estate agent is an even bigger moron.

And all my post was about was writers actually treating what they do like a business and as if it has value. To let readers know that if they want more great writing they enjoyed when they found it used, that consumer power matters.

Hell it matters if you want to see more damn gluten-free food or organic food, but when it comes to writers we're just whiny brats?

We can't win for losing.






Dianna Dann Narciso said...

Bruno Stella: Bless you, and thank you.

I just want to be read. Even if I never got paid, I'd still be writing. I'm compelled to do it, somehow. And I'm lucky enough to have the time to do it. Would I like to make some money at it? Sure.

Too often, I read only great success stories for months. It's disheartening for those of us who are still struggling to find readers. I appreciate it when I hear others admit that they're not selling thousands of books either.

Joe Konrath said...

If I have a bunch of money in the bank, or invested, do I not get paid over and over for simply possessing that money?

Investing is a gamble. You could lose money. A savings account, or bond, has interest so low it really isn't a viable way to pay bills unless your principle is already huge.

I see what you mean, but I don't equate investing money with IPs that potentially can earn forever. As I said, I made over $2k the other day on a book I wrote a decade ago. I can't think of any other career that's analogous. Contending with used copies, or file sharing, seems like a minor annoyance compared with this ability.

Joe Konrath said...

If I'm hoping to make a few bucks from my IP, I should be looking to make that money back over the long haul rather than the here and now.

Agreed. But you're "hoping" to make it back, not whining that used books are competing with your efforts.

Joe Konrath said...

used bookstores are “cultural” and therefore GOOD and preferable for writers. Want to support civilization? Buy old books. Want to support a writer and his/her family and career? Buy new ones or e-books."

These are conflicting ideas. So you can't support civilization by buying my books in a used bookstore? Why not? How does that not contribute to civilization in the same way that buying a used Sherlock Holmes novel does?

And why should readers pay more for books just to support the writer? If, as a writer, you want to be supported for your contribution to humanity, apply for a grant. Find a benefactor. Become a writer in residence somewhere. But don't bully readers into paying more, and don't think that "educating" readers is anything other than panhandling.

but contrary to you, yes, I'm a big believer in education.

I believe in education, Alan. The War on Drugs isn't education. It's indoctrination.

Berating your customers is stupid.

Alan Spade said...

I'm glad warriorwriters stepped in, because context always matters, and it appears she was just talking about authors shooting in their own feet.

I have to say, though, that I believe that her sound advice "we can't win for losing" may also be applied at some point to Amazon. Indeed, one very important sentence of Joe's post was: "Kindle Unlimited pays me less for borrows than it does for sales, and my sales continue to go down as borrows go up."

Yes Joe, the authors who follow your blog, me included, noticed. ;)

Meg Wolfe said...

I'm one of those people that benefits from having a Word for the Year. This year's word is Earn: not so much about the dollar amount, but to Earn my Readers. Write better, write more, and--most importantly--connect.

warriorwriters said...

Mr. Konrath what I feel you are forgetting this is a sales job. No one wants to say that because that's a dirty word. We are the "arts" and "culture." But at the end of the day? We aren't. We don't get grants. We don't have benefactors or patrons. We don't get government subsidies and we sure don't get tax exemptions like all those examples we get lumped in with (museums and other cultural centers).

Writers are taxed heavily under self-employment taxes, which means we get HAMMERED unless we act like a small business

Where the gray area comes is that writing is tethered to "culture" because that is cool, and with that, the idea of capitalism gets lost.

I understand that people discover new writers at used bookstores. I do it all the time. But we are in a job that is 100% commission and if we want to make commission, it is wise to send customers places we are paid commission and not BASH places we are paid GOOD commission and glorify places we are NOT paid ANY commission.

And yes, used bookstores offer samples. But samples only help if people understand that if they like what they sampled? Please buy. That's it. That was ALL my post was about.

No one OWES the lady at Costco money for the free hot pizza roll. No one OWES the pizza roll company a sale. If it SUCKS. Don't buy. But, if you liked it? Please do a solid, and buy a box. IF you want the store to continue STOCKING it, you're going to need to buy them or they go away. That's it.

Same with writing. If you like the book, someone somewhere is going to have to buy new or that writer/writing goes away. That isn't berating a reader, that is letting the reader know how to get more of what they like.

Consumers did that with non-GMO food. They started being willing to pay $8 for a bag of sprouted bread. They ignored the GMO stuff. They quit buying foods with additives and paid DOUBLE to get organic and free of dyes. You know what happened? General Foods this year is now removing all the garbage chemicals from their foods.

That is what happens when an educated consumer uses purchases to vote for more of what they want. It isn't begging or whining or bullying or berating. It's being a wise business person.

Joe Konrath said...

What I DID say is that it is not good business for writers to promote venues they make NO MONEY at the expense of places they DO.

I didn't fisk you, Kristen. But if you think I missed the point, I could take your post line by line and tear it apart. I didn't do so because my goal was to offer a contrary viewpoint, not to make you look stupid.

But your argument was pretty stupid.

ANY venue that sells YOUR work SHARES a COMMON GOAL WITH YOU. Your enemy of your enemy is your friend. In this case, your enemy is obscurity. Any partner you can find in that battle is beneficial.

But are they preferable to a first-time new sale where a writer gets royalties? NO.

Ugh. Or UGH, since you seem to like YELLING. It IS possible to make a POINT without EMPHASIZING EVERY WORD. :)

So a low income fan has $5 a week--a hard earned $5--to spend on entertainment. If you really think it's better for her to save up for six weeks to buy one new hardcover, or to go get 30 books for a buck each at the local paperback exchange, then you and I can have a talk about empathy someday.

I support all readers. Not just the ones who pay me. Not just a subsection that do things the way I like.

Do used bookstores actively help a traditional author sell out a print run so she gets a new contract? NO.

Ahh, once upon a time I was also worried about selling out print runs. But even then I knew that readers and bookstores weren't the enemy. Publishers are the enemy. They're the ones sucking traditional authors dry.

Guess what? I've done booksignings at used bookstores (among the 1200 stores I signed at). One of my goals, as a writer, was to establish a fan base. That meant getting read any way I could. Used books. Galleys and ARCs. Libraries (I also have signed at libraries). Friends and family lending out copies. Piracy. I sell paper copies of my books on my website at a loss as a service to readers, because I recognize that gaining a fan is that valuable.

The issue is that we WRITERS cannot promote articles that bash our greatest revenue streams and then COMPLAIN they make no money.

And that logic is faulty.

We can, and should, promote all articles that promote bookstores, ad libraries, and reading, because our goals are aligned, whether we immediately benefit monetarily or not.

As for complaining we make no money, we should never do that. Ever. No one owes us a living. Especially readers. And "educating" this is flat out stupid.

All I said was to let people know that discovery means jack diddly crap if it is not then followed up with a sale.

Psst--don't tell this to Coca-Cola. "Coke" is one of the most known word in the world, and this is because they spend roughly a gajillion dollars a year promoting their brand, whether people buy Coke or not. But the fact that they can sepnd gajillions means people are apparently buying a lot of Coke. Chicken vs egg? Does Coke sell well because it is well known, or are Coke's tremendous sales what make it well known?

Either way, discovery plays a role. Any college student studying advertising can tell you how many impressions a product has to make on a consumer before the consumer becomes a customer. But if you can revolutionize the ad industry and tell them how to market to only people who buy their products and not those that don't, you'll be a trillionaire.

The more places your books can reach readers, the better. No matter how those readers are reached. No matter if you get paid or not.

If you want to bitch about not getting paid, look at that publishing contract you signed. They're the ones taking advantage you.

Joe Konrath said...

Selling is not BEGGING though it can feel that way.

I once spent 8 hours in a bookstore and handsold a hundred hardcovers to readers who had no idea who I was. That's selling. And I did that dozens of times in dozens of stores.

Trying to convince readers that they shouldn't buy used isn't selling. It's begging, and it's stupid. Telling writers they shouldn't promote bookstores is equally stupid. Reading should be universal. Saying that certain venues and certain readers are worthwhile, and others are not, is whining.

But if they want more enchiladas, they need to BUY them if they want me to keep making more enchiladas.

The world can live without your enchiladas, Kristen. When you come to that realization, perhaps your astonishing sense of entitlement will be replaced by humility and gratitude.

No one owes you a living. I said that at the top of this blog post, and then asked you to repeat it. Repeat it again, because it hasn't sunk in yet.

If regular everyday people posted the article bashing Amazon and promoting used bookstores? Eh, ok. But writers? That's unwise business.

Writers make unwise business decisions all the time. Some of them even write blogs asking readers to only buy new books because they don't get paid if readers buy used books.

That said, Amazon bashing is just as stupid as used bookstore bashing. Bashing any venue that tries to connect readers and writers is stupid. Including torrent sites.

You just never know where your next potential reader will come from. Could be Amazon. Could be Half Price Books. Could be Pirate Bay. If you accrue enough fans, the money will trickle in. Or not. No one owes you a living.

Hell it matters if you want to see more damn gluten-free food or organic food, but when it comes to writers we're just whiny brats?

If some gluten-free bakery was complaining that he wasn't getting paid enough, that would make him a whiny brat.

Joe Konrath said...

Mr. Konrath what I feel you are forgetting this is a sales job

We just cross posted. And I'm Joe, not Mr. Konrath.

I know all too well that this is a sales job. Read upthread. I also know you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Writers are taxed heavily under self-employment taxes, which means we get HAMMERED unless we act like a small business

Okay, I finally Googled you to get a sense of your background. But it doesn't make sense to me. If you've worked with Bob Mayer, and you understand social media, you should completely understand my viewpoint. And you should also be questioning your own views on this issue. At best, whining in public doesn't work. At worst, you get crucified for it. If your goal is to educate writers, giving them bad advice doesn't mesh with that goal.

Is being purposefully provocative one of your social media rules? I'm no stranger to that. But I'm not provocative at the expense of good advice.

IF you want the store to continue STOCKING it, you're going to need to buy them or they go away. That's it.

You know ebooks don't conform to the capitalist rules of supply and demand, right? And you know sales are just one way to monetize writing.

I'm happy to discuss this more, but first I gotta write my 3k words for the day. I'll be back in mid-afternoon. Don't think I'm ignoring you, because I think this might get interesting, and possibly insightful.

Also, don't take anything I say personally. Because I disagree with some of your stupid ideas doesn't mean I think you're stupid. :)

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Well, this should be fun. (Gets popcorn.)

michaellachmanwrites said...

I agree with you that writers don't DESERVE to get paid, but if they are selling a product, then they certainly do. Someone pours time, energy, and most importantly MONEY into creating something, they deserve, not to get paid, but the chance to profit off of it. If I invented the ipod, I deserve to sell it. That doesn't mean anyone will actually buy it, but I deserve the chance to try. And if folks like it, I can continue to sell it next year, and the year after that. So if I wrote a book and printed it, don't I deserve to sell it? Even one hundred years from now? It could be I'll make nothing (that's the most likely scenario, actually), but what I'm saying is that I deserve the chance to try.

9000 said...

Someone made the point upthread that deserves repeating, I think. You funnel buyers into your paying merchandise, whatever that might be, IP in this case. How do you do that? The same way Joe does: you give away, for free, something valuable. In Joe's case that's this blog. I wouldn't have heard of him were it not for searching for info on self publishing. Now that I know about him, I'm much more likely to buy something from him. MUCH more likely :)

That said, I still don't owe Joe any money, any more than he owes me free blog content. I don't even know if he made this blog as a way to funnel people into his product line, but that's how it works out in practice. Sometimes. Unless it doesn't.

BRYAN HIGBY said...

As always Joe words of wisdom. When I first started getting serious about writing, say ten years ago I met a guy Mike Garrett who had the distinction of having published Stephen King's first short story, I was a Teenage Grave Robber. Not long after I met Mike I took his workshop. The great thing Mike does is give you a writers psych exam, meaning he makes you take a test to determine what type of writer you are. My results told me that I was a writer that didn't need to be paid for my work, the work itself was therapy. Ha! My opinion over the last ten years haven't changed much but my writing style has. I bust my ass refining my work, (and yes I spent a lot of years digging ditches), and I can only hope that down the road some readers will enjoy my books, and there are a lot of them, and that I will make my living writing. That's always been the goal - entertain the masses, and pay my bills. I'm finally at that point and though I agree with you Joe no one deserves to get paid, it's nice when we are. Makes us happy! Cheers!

Deep River said...

"If I have a bunch of money in the bank, or invested, do I not get paid over and over for simply possessing that money? Not only that, but the income earned on that money gets compounded, so not only will I be getting paid for having had that money 20 years ago, but I will be paid MORE in the future."

The analogy collapses upon inspection. To have "money in the bank", you must first make a deposit. You are taking money (perhaps cash from a mason jar buried in the backyard) and making it available to a financial institution. That is a single transaction.

The financial institution may then rent your capital and use it for their own transactions (loans, investment, etc). The financial institution pays you rent (interest) as long as you continue to make your capital available to it. Whether you are paid a lump sum of rent upon deposit, upon withdrawal, or over time is merely a detail of your agreement for the deposit.

If you are paid interest over time, and if you do not withdraw the interest paid to you for the use of your capital, then your interest payment increases your initial capital. This is an additional transaction after your initial deposit transaction, which creates an additional rent payment to you (compounded interest).

You aren't earning income simply for possessing the money; you are earning income for renting out a capital asset. Whether the capital asset is property, equipment, or money is immaterial.

Aaron (aka G) said...

I don't care about them, but I sure as heck won't promote torrent sites that give away my books for free.

Promoting places where your work is given away freely or for less money than where you'd ideally like readers to purchase it from, is kind of dumb.

Unless you have a different reason, like an intentional sale or giveaway, I don't see why I would point customers towards non-paying outlets...we may not be owed a living or money, but if we're smart we should try and monetize our work and drive customers to the place we will hope to make the most money from.

Great discussion!

Aaron

Alan Spade said...

My interpretation from Kristen's post differs from Joe's. I think she was speaking to authors, not readers.

She was telling them not to promote used bookstores rather than Amazon or ebooks, because the gains are lesser and uncertain in one case, and more important in the other.

It makes sense that when you have experienced the joy, but also the harshness of writing a book, when you see your activity as a business, you want to make the most profit from it.

But then, her blog post could also be seen by readers. All the readers don't have enough knowledge of this business to know what is most profitable for writers. If her blog post educates some people (even if that was not her intent in the first place), all the authors benefit from it. It's not whining, it's not begging, it's educational.

I get that, as she was talking to writers, her tone was rather harsh, and this does not help when merely delivering informations. But I think readers having read her whole post and not just the excerpt from the Passive Voice would have understood that she was not talking to them.

Bruno Stella said...

[Deep River] "You aren't earning income simply for possessing the money; you are earning income for renting out a capital asset. Whether the capital asset is property, equipment, or money is immaterial."

... or intellectual property? Like, um, books? ;)


To Joe - thanks for writing insightful posts. Thanks even more for taking the time to descend into the trenches and engaging with the unwashed masses.

warriorwriters said...

Did I post those in the correct spot? Brain is fried and too many tabs open and I was wrangling with google. My apologies if my comments ended up on the wrong thread :P

warriorwriters said...

I don't think I did. Urgh. Probably lost the comment. Was fighting with google (personally HATE blogger).

I think it is ironic you lecturing me about sugar and vinegar :P. Yada yada. But this was the main point I wanted to make and will put it again here. Sorry for getting it in the wrong spot.

Sometimes you have to lose the sugar and call bullshit. That post that prompted my blog was yellow journalism that was nothing more than propaganda inciting Amazon and digital bashing and writers were joining in…which is DUMB. Especially since friends and family see that stuff and will then avoid those writers' greatest revenue streams like the PLAGUE.

Better get a paper copy because digital is EVIL!

Anyway...

There is no reason that used and independent bookstores couldn't utilize the inexpensive technology to also benefit writers (and readers AND publishers AND bookstores).

Hey, I see you bought one of Joe Konrath's books. Did you know he has a new one out? Our store partners with Joe. It's only $2.99 on any format you like with out bookstore's APP. We can even help you load the book on your smartphone or tablet *cute face* With our app, you can get coupons, downloads and we can let you know about any events. Buy so many books and you can get free books from your favorite authors we partner with.

You sell NEW books through the used stores. With an app or some software setup? The cost is minimal. A pop up. Hey, you want to go ahead and add an e-book for $2.99.

That gets your impulse purchase.

Bookstores (new or used) then make commission by driving sales for your DIGITAL books. It's free money. This helps brick and mortar businesses.

It helps READERS because then clerks can act as skilled salespeople to help guide them through the discoverability NIGHTMARE. This helps readers, writers, publishers AND bookstores.

Maybe the clerk struggling through college makes some commission. Since digital has more margin, this is very doable.

The reader gets more cheap books.

Everyone wins when we quit just defending the status quo. Thanks for the chat. Now I am the one who must leave to go do edits. *waves*

Aaron (aka G) said...

BTW, I think a huge part of the miscommunication going on is due to the way we consume digital media. Joe was responding to an excerpt on TPV which was of an article that was responding to yet an entirely different article.

Most of the people responding here and Joe himself, only read the excerpt at TPV, did not read the full article, and did not even likely read the other article that this article was responding to!

Sheesh...that's some game of telephone going on here...

warriorwriters said...

I lied. I'm going to repost the thoughts I misplaced when I got in a pig-wrestling match with google then edit.

You think my ideas are stupid and that's fine. I think some of yours are stupid :P. Of course often the case was you shocked me (I.e. piracy). I needed time to adjust my worldview.

Where we seem to be missing each other is that some people see a glass as half full. Others see half empty. I see a GREAT LAKE next to the damn glass and a way EVERYONE could drink.

I'm not anti-bookseller, but why are they happy being completely separate from digital? I am not all-digital-or-nothing, but why can't they work WITH bookstores to take advantage of the browsing experience and hands on?

I'm saying, please stop trashing AMAZON/digital and stop defending sacred cows for the sake of defending them. Because we are not doing that bookstore any favors.

Borders is gone. B&N is likely on its heels unless it can remain selling records and ornaments. If indie bookstores are going to reinvent, then they can't keep using the same tired playbook.

They have to hit the megastore where it CANNOT compete.

And readers on a limited income can support writers they love with new. That is the whole point of what I am talking about. I am talking about rethinking business models.

Ten years ago we couldn't do these things. Now that tablets are dirt cheap? The tech is there if people will stop bowing down to the bookstore just because it "always has been a certain way."

I MISS the bookstores I grew up with. I want something like that back…only better. I want it to be like B. Dalton when the bookstore benefitted writers AND stores AND readers. And we won't get that unless someone is willing to be unpopular and well, if it has to be me, then so be it. And the only way to help make smaller bookstores viable in a market of megastores is to offer something remarkable…like the ability to up-sell and connect with NEW works cheaply.

Joe Konrath said...

If I invented the ipod, I deserve to sell it.

I agree. But follow my links, or search my blog for "copyright" for my reasons I think it needs to be reformed.

And don't conflate "deserve to sell it" with "it deserves to be sold." Therein lies the entitlement I warn against.

Joe Konrath said...

Promoting places where your work is given away freely or for less money than where you'd ideally like readers to purchase it from, is kind of dumb.

I'm a bit sad that I'm not being pirated as much as I once was. Which is why I need to release some new books!

But here are the links to my work I found on the Pirate Bay. Anyone who wants to try me for free, have at it.

https://thepiratebay.se/search/konrath/0/99/0

Joe Konrath said...

I think she was speaking to authors, not readers.

If she has found a way to reach only writers, I'd love to hear it.

But I'm guessing that readers can also find her post. That's the thing about the Internet. It's forever, and everyone has a season pass.

This blog is also for writers. But readers do find it. So do booksellers.

A lot of booksellers dislike me, intensely. I've been boycotted by indie booksellers. I've gotten many nasty comments, and emails, from booksellers. They take my support and endorsement of Amazon as an offense. It isn't.

I love bookstores, and want them to succeed. Even the ones who refuse to sell my books. I want to see as many people reading books as possible, no matter where they get those books from.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks even more for taking the time to descend into the trenches and engaging with the unwashed masses.

I'm one of the unwashed masses. Perhaps more unwashed than most.

Derek Haines said...

I'm with you, Joe. But then again, I make more money blogging than selling damn ebooks. Well it's still writing, isn't it? But as with ebooks and books, I don't expect to be paid for writing my blog words. It's just that, perversely, my 800 blog words every few days sell much better (well, ok, ad revenue) than 100,000 words of blood, sweat and tears in an ebook. Such is bloody life! :)

Joe Konrath said...

I think it is ironic you lecturing me about sugar and vinegar :P

You gotta quote me and point out the irony so I can see it.

You think my ideas are stupid and that's fine. I think some of yours are stupid :P.

Again, you gotta point them out. I've gone into detail why I think your views are wrong. Defend them, or attack mine. Everyone benefits from intelligent discourse. That's a big reason why I have a blog. I want people to show me I'm wrong, so I can refine my views accordingly. But I need to know which ideas of mine are stupid, and why, in order to learn.

That post that prompted my blog was yellow journalism that was nothing more than propaganda inciting Amazon and digital bashing and writers were joining in…which is DUMB.

And I'm with you 100% on that part. Which is why I didn't bring it up. I'm guessing you're bright enough to know that you don't learn anything when people agree with you.

Better get a paper copy because digital is EVIL!

Now here's where we start to differ. If your post stuck with "Don't believe media hit pieces about digital books" I'm on your side there.

Then you detoured, hence my post.

There is no reason that used and independent bookstores couldn't utilize the inexpensive technology to also benefit writers (and readers AND publishers AND bookstores).

I figured this out five years ago, and offered a business plan to bookstores that still is viable.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/05/indie-bookstores-boycott-konrath.html

But my solutions didn't involve blaming readers, or authors, or bookstores.

I'm saying, please stop trashing AMAZON/digital and stop defending sacred cows for the sake of defending them.

Again, I agree with that part. But that isn't all of what you're saying. You take the red-eye into crazy town when you say stuff like:

If I DO happen to buy a used book, I make sure to purchase at least a digital copy so that writer is PAID for his or her hard work.

To expect readers to do this is nuts. It's not about educating them. It's about owning two copies of the same book.

Now, some people may want that. Or some people may worry about making sure the writer gets paid the same way they worry about the rain forests disappearing, and if given the change will donate a few bucks that that cause. But you write advice for writers. Advice that writers pay for. And your Amazon reviews and sales rank suggests you're good at doing this.

But when you're asking writers to evangelize the screed of "Want to support a writer and his/her family and career? Buy new ones or e-books." you are giving those writers bad advice.

Joe Konrath said...

To clarify: go ahead and tell writers not to endorse Amazon-bashing or ebook-bashing. That's good advice. Just don't take the next step and declare that every person on the planet who reads a book needs to pay the writer, and writers should make readers away of that. I'm exaggerating your point here, but even a gentler approach is bad advice.

You may really hate that some readers get your books without paying you. You're entitled to that opinion. But don't post that opinion, or encourage others to post that opinion. Because readers will get defensive, and as a social media expert you know how quickly the dudgeon mobs can descend on any little perceived slight. If your article lead to some writer confronting a reader in a used bookstore, and that reader complaining on Goodreads and linking back to your article, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a public shaming disaster.

Now, I'm no stranger to controversy. But I stand by my advice. How quickly would you recant if you got 1000 one star reviews on Amazon because low income readers who buy used books are angry at you?

If you'd recant, then you shouldn't have posted it in the first place. If you're willing to stand by your convictions, you have my admiration, but it was still bad advice. And not just because it could bite you in the butt. Also because you're wrong. All readers--no matter how they find a book--are important.

warriorwriters said...

The thing is a bookstore in some fashion will always be around. My first loyalty is to my readers (in my case, that is largely writers).

After that? Loyalty need to be to people who create the content.

THEN the bookstore or publisher or whoever.

I sound like a jerk, but I don't have any emotional loyalty to a distributor unless they're doing solid business. I support Amazon because I like the way they do business. I support Half Price Books because I dig their business model. Sell new books up front, used in back.

But distribution of some sort will always be around so long as we have free speech and civilization. Now, that may be an aisle folded neatly into a Walmart, Target or Costco. It could be a tiny rack at a drug store. It could be a website. Distribution will remain.

But if the consumer doesn't understand how this industry works and how to apply purchasing power, the content they love can and will disappear. Especially when we are very literally standing in a whole new publishing world from 2007 when writers didn't even have e-mail and the Big 6 were the only game in town.

Everything readers have known for 150 years is gone. Replaced within the last 7 years.

I feel that's why traditional got so lost. Loyalty isn't to paper or to the bookstore. It's to readers. To stories. If readers want to consume my work via interpretive dance? Let's make it happen.

Loyalty cannot be to the medium or even the distribution channel. It has to be the reader and the reader then is in a symbiotic relationship with the artist.

You don't want more? Move on. Free market. You do want more? It's going to require a sale at some point.

That's just being forthright with the consumer because many have no idea we aren't all living off six-figure advances and how would they? Isn't their job to know.

Daniel said...

Oh yeah. I was telling a friend today. Back when I was younger and totally broke, I pirated a lot of stuff that changed my life. Lots of great books that I didn't pay for.

Now, I feel like if somebody doesn't have the 10 bucks to buy my book, but they pirate it and it gives them some good ideas or changes their way of looking at things, I'm still happy.

And like you said, if you have millions of fans and can't get paid, you're an idiot. I have thousands of fans and manage to make a living OFF THE SMALL PERCENTAGE THAT BUY.

Good stuff!

Joe Konrath said...

For those who followed my above link to Pirate Bay but don't know what to do next, you first have to use a Torrent client.

I use uTorrent. http://www.utorrent.com

Now if you don't know how torrents work, be very very careful. It's easy to get viruses, malware, trojans, worms, herpes, spina bifida, and die a horrible bleeding death from torrents. Be careful, read up on how it works, don't download or install anything unless you know what you're doing.

Joe Konrath said...

I support Half Price Books because I dig their business model.

I dig Half Price Books, and find a lot of my work for sale there, at half price. Sometimes I autograph it and put it back on the shelf.

But if the consumer doesn't understand how this industry works and how to apply purchasing power, the content they love can and will disappear.

You're fear mongering here. Back in the day, most writers wrote for free when they were starting out because they didn't have a contract, and no guarantee of ever having one. But they still wrote.

We're in no danger of writers quitting, no matter how ill-informed the consumers are.

I sound like a jerk

No you don't. You sound passionate, and your rant was amusing. But part of it was wrong. We're all wrong sometimes. Me included.

Loyalty cannot be to the medium or even the distribution channel. It has to be the reader and the reader then is in a symbiotic relationship with the artist.

Agreed. But that symbiotic relationship does not have to involve all readers paying all writers. I've sold two million books. I've also given away a million. They're all my readers, paying or not, and I'm lucky to have every single one of them, no matter how they found me.

warriorwriters said...

Yes Joe but at some point someone somewhere handed you cold hard cash. Granted, you are cute and fun to be with but last I check NYTBSA was awarded from SALES…which I will be the first to say completely bummed me out.

I give away a lot. I blog a lot. I give away classes and training mainly to save the world from FU&^% book spam. I also know that writers often don't have a lot of money. They don't have $1500 to learn how to do social media properly and I am not going to prey on them.

I love readers. I love writers. But I do want to strangle writers when I see them shooting themselves in the foot.

Guys, this sh#@ is hard. Please stop making it harder *head desk*.

And you're correct, but I never said it did involve all readers paying all writers.

I stated that a sale was ONE way of paying us. I also mentioned reviews, especially for those readers who need an intervention for the amount of books they buy. Or for those on a fixed income.

Get them free, but do us a solid and write a review if you LOVED it. That way, Jim Bob who reads three books a year when he gets stranded in an airport or an urgent care? HE WILL pay me. Thanks ;) .

Or, post on social media. But no matter what way you support the writers you love, love is a verb. There is action even down to word of mouth. You can't be passive anymore. Not these days. The Big Six is no longer offering is the shelter it used to.

And I see I am moving up the food chain from raging moron to stupid to---passionate. That's good :D .

Aaron (aka G) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron (aka G) said...

"Joe Konrath said...
I'm a bit sad that I'm not being pirated as much as I once was. Which is why I need to release some new books!

But here are the links to my work I found on the Pirate Bay. Anyone who wants to try me for free, have at it.

https://thepiratebay.se/search/konrath/0/99/0"

My response: LOL. And like I said, stupid.

I'm fine with places existing like that, and I'm honestly so fine with folks pirating my work that I almost never even think about it unless someone brings it up on a blog or forum or article. Don't care about pirates or used book stores.

However, I certainly agree with the notion of driving my customers to where I make the most profit--that's business 101. There's a reason that plenty of savvy businesses make YouTube pull content down that they view as proprietary, because they know they can make more money if that content isn't as freely available.

I bought seasons of Drunk History from Comedy Central when they didn't allow it to be hosted freely on YouTube.

That's just business, and I think promoting free stuff with no method of customer collection or ability to make use of those customers is stupid.

Joe Konrath said...

That's just business, and I think promoting free stuff with no method of customer collection or ability to make use of those customers is stupid.

Twitter. And Facebook. And Google.

How long did they exist before they were monetized?

I'm not against money. I like money. But when you have readers, money follows. Don't knock piracy as a word of mouth venue until you've experimented with it.

Aaron (aka G) said...

"That's just business, and I think promoting free stuff with no method of customer collection or ability to make use of those customers is stupid.

Twitter. And Facebook. And Google.

How long did they exist before they were monetized?

I'm not against money. I like money. But when you have readers, money follows. Don't knock piracy as a word of mouth venue until you've experimented with it."

I'm not completely knocking it in all situations, but most of the time, no. It's not an ideal way to capitalize and make money.

Look at when Louis CK released his groundbreaking comedy special and sold it from his website. He specifically asked people NOT to pirate the comedy show because he was selling it cheaply and a huge amount of people watching for free would have likely hurt his ability to continue to deliver those shows from his site at cheaper prices.

And then people actually respected him, didn't pirate the material, and he made a KILLING.

That's smart business.

I'm not denying that for a show like Game of Thrones, the amount of interest and even piracy likely helps their overall brand--but I don't think it is something to court or promote for 99 percent of content creators.

I really think piracy and people who want to get my content for free is just the way of the new world--but my job is to do my best to capture paying customers and drive them to the place that makes ME the most money.

Joe Konrath said...

NYTBSA was awarded from SALES…which I will be the first to say completely bummed me out.

Actually, it's given via a write-in ballot estimating sales, and the vast majority books that make this list are pre-printed on it (as opposed to write ins). I've never been on the NYT list, and I'm not bummed by it. Their imprimatur doesn't impress me.

But I do want to strangle writers when I see them shooting themselves in the foot.

Me, too. Which is why I blogged about this. :D

The Big Six is no longer offering the shelter it used to.

That wasn't shelter. That was a sledgehammer to the head.

We live in a day and age where it is very easy to "like" something without giving it proper thought. Read something for six seconds, accept it as fact, and regurgitate it. That should stop, and I believe that's part of what you're saying.

People need to be deliberate, and self aware. Everything you say--especially online--you should be able to defend. On the surface "Amazon is killing indie bookstores" may be true, and it certainly sounds bad. But if you look deeper, you see that Amazon is allowing for more books to reach readers than ever before. Plus they pay authors more. Plus they have the widest selection at the lowest prices.

That's a cogent argument that is hard to assail.

Indie bookstores can compete, and have opportunities that Amazon doesn't have. I linked to some of my ideas on that matter.

Writers can get paid without blaming or educating readers. Writers should support all bookstores, including used bookstores and Amazon. If you'd taken that approach, I'd have no nits to pick. But you ruined it with stuff like:

profit margins on used books are better than new ones. "It is amazing how much profit margins increase when you don’t actually have to pay the person who worked long and hard and sacrificed to create the product you are profiting from."

Ack.

First of all, the writers' royalties come out of net, not gross. It doesn't matter what a retailer sells the books for. The writer gets a percentage (and a damn small one) of what their publishers sells them to retailers (or wholesalers or distributors) for. A bookstore can sell a book for ten cents or a million dollars, and the writer still makes the same amount.

Second, publishers have squeezed indie bookstores for decades. Since the advent of the chain bookstores, indies have gotten smaller (or no) discounts.

Third--and I really don't want to get into this again because I've been blogging about this since 2005--publishers actually print retail prices on books. Why is that? What other business does that? How does that harm competition among booksellers?

Bookstores sell used books, and have better margins on them, because they're being systematically butt fucked by publishers on new books. Authors are not involved in this part of this equation. And since I'm for all booksellers staying in business, as an author I applaud any bookseller who can make a buck any way they can. That includes selling ARCs and galleys and review copies.

I'm also pro-reading in all ways, including piracy.

As a businessperson, the best thing for my business is for consumers to be aware of my product. But their awareness should coincide with warm feelings. Not feelings of guilt, or anger, or resentment.

We actually can cheer for used bookstores, even though we don't make money on used sales. The way to educate your readers is to let them know it isn't used vs. Amazon. It's used AND Amazon. The more ways to buy, the better.

Joe Konrath said...

He specifically asked people NOT to pirate the comedy show because he was selling it cheaply and a huge amount of people watching for free would have likely hurt his ability to continue to deliver those shows from his site at cheaper prices.

And then people actually respected him, didn't pirate the material, and he made a KILLING.

That's smart business.


Where is your evidence he wasn't pirated? Or that piracy didn't help him make a killing?

Contrast that to Man From Earth, which besides being one of my favorite indie movies, embraced torrent sights and encouraged piracy. I learned about it through bit torrent, pirated it, watched it, and have bought four copies so far for friends.

Telling pirates not to pirate doesn't work. The very concept is ridiculous. But recognizing that many pirates also spend a good deal of money on media is a smart strategy.

I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I have a novel idea slated for the summer, and I'm going to release it on pirate sites at the same time it goes for sale. I'll report what happens.

Aaron (aka G) said...

Joe, you asked for evidence. Here's one article:
http://www.ibtimes.com/louis-ck-how-he-made-500k-4-days-383134

From my recollection, the pirating community seemed to generally honor his request, with a few exceptions. There was a lot of pressure to respect his request because he was giving away a very affordable product and had the "street cred" to back it up.

You can agree to disagree, but I read a lot on this at the time it happened, and I believe that Louis was smart to make the request, and that it actually did help him make more money. And again, let's also use other examples such as me buying Drunk History from Comedy Central after being unable to find the episodes for free on YouTube.

The only way I can see using pirating and so forth to your advantage is if you essentially get a viral hit through doing so. That's an outlier trick, and I don't believe in trying to be an outlier. I believe in using tried and true business methods such as capturing and driving customers to the best paying outlets that directly make me more money.

That might be a place with a lower price but higher traffic.

However, courting the non-paying customers just seems...dumb.

Joe Konrath said...

You can agree to disagree, but I read a lot on this at the time it happened, and I believe that Louis was smart to make the request, and that it actually did help him make more money.

We can see if that's true by checking an alternate universe where he didn't make that request.

Hmm. Maybe not.

Maybe if he didn't make that request, he would have made a million. We just don't know.

But I am gonna try that thing this summer. And I'll blog about it.

warriorwriters said...

Weird. Could have sworn you were a NYTBSA. Just know you write a lot of books which is awesome. And yeah yeah it is political but they aren't handing it out to people with no sales :P

We disagree about what that line was in truth saying, but whatever. It pissed you off. Fine. Fair enough. You have a right to your feelings and opinions. And I appreciate the advice. Will take it under advisement….

Nope. Still don't agree.

Ok. Will think longer on it.

Most of the time I make people laugh their @$$Ses off but I do piss them off too. *shrugs* Happens.

I am usually one who writes funny and am known for being nice. But, if I never piss anyone off I'm a really crappy writer because I'm not making anyone use their head for something other than a hatrack.

As much as it would be wonderful to have everyone love me, 10 % of everyone we meet will hate us for no reason at all. Might as well give them a good one. And if you cannot drunkenly plant chickens dressed in jazz tights in their workplace?

Rant about paying writers.

*runs with glitter*

If all people do is nod and YES me? And they aren't forced to actually articulate about WHY they disagree? And WHY I am a banjo-toting idiot? Then I am a failure at what I do. And maybe I'm wrong, maybe not. Ultimately, I am not whining. I will take the hit for my opinion.

The cool thing about free counties?

I can LIKE people without them agreeing with every single thing I say. They can even---GASP---strongly disagree with me! OH NO! THE HORRORS!

Living in an ideological echo chamber is a rather dull existence and I will leave to the terminally insecure.

Still a fan. Actually mentioned you in my last book. As I said. Been following for a while :) .

Thanks for the fun. I have appreciated it a lot and am happy this sparked a good debate. I consider it quite the honor to have you call me an idiot *bows*

Clover Autrey said...

I dig Half Price Books, and find a lot of my work for sale there, at half price. Sometimes I autograph it and put it back on the shelf.

I autograph your books and put them back too! Hope I got your signature right. Sorry, feeling a tad snarky after all this back and forth.

I'm amused by Are Khufu's relatives still getting royalties? That's not fair as I thought of Anna Strasberg who inherited Marilyn Monroe's estate simply because she was the second wife of Marilyn's acting coach. Definitely not fair, yet she had it and was savvy enough to license Monroe products and raked in the money.

In a nutshell I'm gleaning from this exchange: We should not feel entitled. Go forth and be business savvy if we want to make a living at this. Appreciate our readers. No whining. (I read Kristen's original post when it came out and didn't take it that way at all just FYI, but it's still a good rule to note. No whining.) And lastly, I would rather not have to dig any ditches.

Alan Spade said...

I don't think Kristen is shooting herself in the foot with her blog post. Her approach towards author is the right one, I believe.

In some ways, what you are telling us, Joe, is that attack is better than defense: it's better to drive sales by using every possible way, even piracy, than trying to educate people and defend the old way books and ebooks are sold.

You are a marketing genius, and you particular genius is adapted to the changes in the industry.

But that doesn't make you always right. You could be right in your particular case, but wrong when advising other authors, because the other authors don't have your set of marketing skills, and cannot build their own success on them like you do.

For the other authors, different approaches may make more sense. One of them is to educate readers, and other writers.

Remember when you advised authors to buy each other's works (when meeting during fairs, for example)? I think that what Kristen is trying to achieve is akin to that.

On a side note, you said: "I've sold two million books." Maybe you should tell Amazon Crossing to change the french description of Bloody Mary, which says that you sold three millions in 20 countries. http://www.amazon.fr/Bloody-Mary-enquĂȘte-Jacqueline-Daniels-ebook/dp/B00ZO6KGQS/

Phil Giunta said...

So, all of this began when I posted an article on my Facebook wall about the renaissance of used bookstores in the age of Amazon. Kristen, who was the keynote speaker at our local writers conference in Allentown, PA last year and has since become a friend, responded on my wall in much the same sentiment as her blog post.

We had a friendly debate on Facebook over the holidays and I respected Kristen's opinion. We agreed to disagree on some points, but agreed on others. The debate spilled over into the next day and I also responded on her original blog post.

As Lex Luthor said in Superman II, "I never thought this thing would go the distance!"

Anyway, here is the link to original article that lit the very long fuse! :)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-the-age-of-amazon-used-bookstores-are-making-an-unlikely-comeback/2015/12/26/06b20e48-abea-11e5-bff5-905b92f5f94b_story.html?tid=sm_fb

firewoman said...

I love you. You're against greed - that's what I always think. Once upon a time my sister stopped her car and asked directions. The bloke that answered said, 'Well, I wouldn't start from here...'
You always realise that we have to start from here. amzn.to/1JIblJ

Patricia Lynne said...

I read the post over on PV and commented there, but I just remembered something. There is a used bookstore uptown where I live. I went in there and they bought copies of both my books to sell in their used book store. They had a section for local authors and my books were displayed there. In fact, the owner was head over heels to have me stop by and wanted any local author to come in and he'd buy their books and resell. So yeah, used books stores can make authors money. We just have to go in and ask if they have a local author section and would like to purchase a copy to resell.

Joe Konrath said...

Remember when you advised authors to buy each other's works (when meeting during fairs, for example)?

I do remember that. And then Amazon removed author reviews.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Alan, do your own experiment. I've spent entire days in bookstores, talking to people. I used to handsell like a madman. I would go into a Walden, B&N, Borders, or indie store and stand there for six to ten hours, handselling. Prior to that, I worked in a Crown books. I've talked to tens of thousands of book buyers.

Now here's what I want you to do. Follow Kristen's advice and educate readers. Go into a used bookstore and spend eight hours there. Every time someone walks in and picks up a book, tell them that you're an author, and if they buy that book the author doesn't make a dime. So they should spend twice as much and buy it new.

After you talk to 1000 people in this way, report back and let us know how it went.

Or I can save you the trouble, because I know exactly how it will go. Some will be shamed. Some will be offended. Some will get angry. Some will ignore you. And at least one person will get so irritated they'll go on Goodreads and rant about what an insensitive jerk you are. Which won't help your sales in the least.

I said upthread; the War on Drugs was a joke. The War on Piracy is also a joke. You can't prevent people from doing what they want to do, even with all the education in the world.

Deep River said...

[Bruno Stella] "... or intellectual property? Like, um, books? ;)"

Touche!

Joe Konrath said...

I will take the hit for my opinion.

Or you can review your opinion, and change it as you learn more.

warriorwriters said...

See upthread. Educated people about the evils of GMO and gluten…changed an ENTIRE industry.

Educated people about not performing surgery after riding a horse. MILLIONS NOW LIVE BECAUSE THEY WASH HANDS!

Alan is correct. We choose the approach that fits.

I say that I came from sales. Want to know the single largest reason salespeople failed? They never asked for the sale.

They wined and dined and courted. They had great products. They took customers samples. But they never ASKED.

You have not because you ask not.

So the sale went to the first salesperson who came along and…asked.

If someone is offended a writer simply asked for the sale if the consumer deemed it WORTHY, like very other capitalist institution known in the free world?

Bye. Be offended.

And I am not the only one capable of changing an opinion. You keep using examples that insinuate control and legislation. I.e. War on Drugs. War on Piracy. No one was suggesting any protectionism or any mandating readers buy new, so those examples are total non sequiturs.

If however, we educate people and show how with a change in behavior, THEY benefit? Appeal to human self-interest?

The examples are boundless. That has nothing to do with control, which is what you seem to keep insisting this is about.

Educated people about the dangers of additives. Consumers ON THEIR OWN altered buying patterns and changed an entire industry.

This happens all the time in capitalism.

Buy this fair trade chocolate, fair trade coffee, whatever. Starbucks uses this tactic and makes billions.

Some people feel used and guilted and that is their consumer right. But at the same time, it is also the right of the industry to ask for consumers to be able to vote with their dollars.

Maybe people don't want cheap chocolate. Maybe they want $6 a bar chocolate because it make them feel good and who are we to say that is an UNJUST way of doing business?

This is a free market system. So long as I am not hinting at protectionism and legislation to control buying patters, your examples aren't the best parallels. And if we can't educate people and change behavior and that is fruitless, then just sign me up for some hemlock stat.

Percival Constantine said...

I stumbled on the original post through The Digital Reader and my eyes rolled so much, I started to worry they were going to fall out of my head. You perfectly stated everything I thought was wrong with it.

Joe Konrath said...

Sigh. Okay, I'll play.

Educated people about the evils of GMO and gluten…changed an ENTIRE industry.

AFAIK (and I'm no expert) the book Wheat Belly started the gluten free trend. While Coeliac Disease certainly exists, a lot of the Wheat Belly book is contested by scientists. And scientists, BTW, were the ones to link CD with gluten. But a single book popularized the idea, and then manufacturers jumped on board, like they did with Low Fat and No Carb and many other diet trends.

I wouldn't count that as ENTIRE industry change. Just savvy companies riding the wave. And this has no corollary to "educate people and change behavior." Zero. Food companies profiting from a diet trend is not comparable in any way to writers trying to teach readers to buy full price books. It doesn't even make sense.

Want to know the single largest reason salespeople failed? They never asked for the sale.

Okay, let's use your jewelry sales background as an example. Have you ever told a customer, "Sure, you can buy that diamond ring for $6000. But those diamond miners don't make a dime off of it. Instead, buy this EXACT SAME ring for $12,000, because then the miners make 6%."

How would that fly on the sales floor, Kristen?

If someone is offended a writer simply asked for the sale

That isn't your position. I ask for sales all the time. That's fine. I've handsold thousands of books. That's HANDSOLD. Meaning I put it into the customer's hands.

You're talking about taking a used book from a customer's hands and shaming them into paying double for a new one. That's a horse of a different color, and a very bad idea (with roots in entitlement).

Bye. Be offended.

Every reader you offend has a voice. Every voice can be heard, and amplified, on the Internet, where it exists forever.

As I said, I'd rather readers have warm fuzzy feelings when they think of me.

Consumers ON THEIR OWN altered buying patterns

A consumer can't alter a buying pattern if there is nothing for sale. The fad created a demand. Food manufacturers filled the demand.

Starbucks uses this tactic and makes billions.

Fallacy. I could easily say "Starbucks puts their coffee in paper cups and makes billions." Don't equate correlation with causality. Starbucks makes billions for many reasons. Free trade may be one of them.

it is also the right of the industry to ask for consumers to be able to vote with their dollars.

Name any media industry that uses guilt to get consumers to spend twice as much.

No one was suggesting any protectionism or any mandating readers buy new, so those examples are total non sequiturs.

Actually, they sequitur quite well. I'm using the War on Drugs as an example of how education doesn't change behavior. As such, your plan to educate readers will not work. Try out what I suggest Alan try upthread. Let me know how it turns out.

And if we can't educate people and change behavior and that is fruitless, then just sign me up for some hemlock stat.

You don't succeed by trying to force buying habits. You succeed by understanding buying habits. That's why I was one of the first authors to make a mint self-pubbing. I understood what readers were looking for. The Big 6 had a lock on distribution, and forced content and prices on readers. I offered an alternative, and readers jumped at it.

Hint: My alternative wasn't asking them to pay double what they want to pay by feeding them a sob story about writers deserving to get paid.

Your argument sucks.

BravoSierra said...

If its ok for that used book store to make money off your works, even setting its own prices above your current prices new, then its definitly just fine for you to promote in such a way that you end up paid. All the hot air pontificating in the world over this means jack shit if you don't get paid to begin with. Writers are artists, they arent always good business people. They dont realize the latent danger to their revenue stream by having a party over used book sales that don't do anything for them. Authors should be hustling for THEIR OWN sales, not promoting other companies sales.

Bri Clark said...

As a community of writers we are terribly hard on ourselves naturally. It is of great concern to me, that someone who is in a position of reputational authority in our sphere would use that platform to cause writer shame.

If we take out the fact that we are writers and trade it for entrepreneur then asking to be paid for what we provide is not only expected but coached to do. Business coaches, blogs, and books all tell the small business owner to not only ask to be paid but for the rate they are valued at.

Kristen's original post, which I read, said the same thing. If authors aren't paid then how can they continue to create? Where's the motivator? Where's the value proposition?

Joe Konrath said...

They dont realize the latent danger to their revenue stream by having a party over used book sales that don't do anything for them.

I've been a professional about for 14 years. During that time there have been used bookstores selling my books.

My main source of income is Amazon. Amazon sells my used books alongside my new ones.

There's zero danger, latent or otherwise, in used book sales.

As far as authors promoting their work, the point is the work itself, not the retail outlet. Let readers know about the book. If you want to, link to it in as many places as you'd like. But don't ever tell readers "Don't buy my book used."

That's really stupid.

Joe Konrath said...

It is of great concern to me, that someone who is in a position of reputational authority in our sphere would use that platform to cause writer shame.

It is of great concern to me when a writer with authority dishes out terrible advice. Kristen's advice is awful, for the reasons I articulated in my blog post and in the comments here.

She hasn't succeeded in refuting a single point I've made. That should make you think.

Business coaches, blogs, and books all tell the small business owner to not only ask to be paid but for the rate they are valued at.

I am not a business coach. I have no How-To book. I don't make money for offering my advice.

But I have made a few million bucks doing this. And I say asking readers to buy new and not buy used is stupid.

If authors aren't paid then how can they continue to create?

I wrote ten novels and wasn't paid a dime. If your precis is correct, should I have quit after I couldn't sell the first one?

But I didn't quit. I kept at it. Not because I felt I was owed for my work. But because I wanted to be read.

And if I never sold another book, I'd continue to write.

If you're going into this business to make money, rather than for the joy of creation, you're in for some big disappointment.

warriorwriters said...

We will use my jewelry store background since sales is based on relationships. See, Joe where you thrive is in extremes.

When I worked in jewelry and the customer came and spent four hours with me taking items in and out of cases and fitting and having to measure and answer questions and resize and when it came to diamonds? That could mean HOURS of work. During the holidays? Not at all uncommon for someone to keep you until 11:00 or midnight and then you still had to lock up and that meant three hours putting stuff in the safe.

Fine it was my job. No problem.

No, I didn't tell them a sob story about a diamond miners precisely. I will address that later.

But I did say, "I understand you need to think about this purchase. It's a big deal. Just please appreciate that I am paid commission. I also have to make a daily quota and I've spent most of my day helping you which has been my pleasure. So if you do return, and I hope you do please tell them I helped you so I get credit."

That was FAIR. I worked for the sale.

Why shouldn't I get commission from that work? Sometimes salespeople forgot to say something and customers might have assumed the clerk was paid hourly or salary since the clerk never mentioned the importance of needing the sale. The customer would come in and pick out a piece and ANOTHER salesperson could make thousands of dollars within the span of ten minutes. But it really wasn't ten minutes. It was a half a day of someone else's work.

All because a person didn't ask for the sale.

Dealing in hyperbole is not debate. You keep demanding examples, and I give them but then because they don't support what you contend they aren't good enough.

Fine.

You call it shaming. I call it purchasing with a conscience. People do it with fair trade coffee. Fair trade chocolate. Go to any Sprouts, or Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. There is an entire boutique industry that caters to consumers who wish to purchase with a conscience.

And yes, as a jewelry salesperson I did ask consumers pay more to support the miners in regards to diamonds. It is the reason you don't buy Blood Diamonds.

Consumers pay more so that they can be more assured that slaves weren't used to get them a cheap diamond. Or that their engagement ring didn't find a junta. Salespeople then EDUCATE consumers WHY they are paying more.

Does this account for the DeBeers diamond monopoly and yada yada yada? NO. But we don't buy cheap diamonds from certain places because they use slaves and fund warlords. There are reasons of conscience that have to do with the people who mine them and the countries they come from.

But I have been working since 3:30 this morning. I am a weird early bird and am toast. Cheers.

Lynn said...

Joe Konrath said: "I see what you mean, but I don't equate investing money with IPs that potentially can earn forever. As I said, I made over $2k the other day on a book I wrote a decade ago. I can't think of any other career that's analogous. "

Really? No other career where you sell a product over and over for decades? Writing software, especially vertical market solutions like "WidgetMakerPro" specialized for a certain industry. Certain visual arts like photography or printmaking that lend themselves to mass production. Music, for crying out loud. Recordings of dance performances. People are still buying Ansel Adams and Enrico Caruso.

All of these are subject to piracy, but they have different methodologies for fighting it. With visual arts, there's the limited run or certificate of authenticity to add value to a legitimately produced copy. The original producer, of course, gets nothing from aftermarket sales. Recordings, well that's a huge subject, and we all know that industry is in the throes of retrenching the monetizing model to try to get some cash flow to the artists. Software, especially very costly software, goes to great ends to prevent piracy, with varying success.

As a small publisher and someone who has produced both custom, one-off software and a vertical market solution, trust me when I say that the business models for both are pretty close. Selling repeatedly something you produce ONCE is a lot less work than writing something new for every consumer.

Joe Konrath said...

Why shouldn't I get commission from that work?

No one is saying you shouldn't. You're illogically conflating the two points. Making a commission on a jewelry sale does not equate to shaming readers to pay twice as much for a book so you can get a 6% royalty. Asking a customer to acknowledge your assistance isn't asking them to pay more, or making them feel bad if they don't.

But if you tell one low-income lady buying a used book that she's cheating the author out of a royalty, you've done a really cruel thing. Because what can her response be other than to feel angry, or bad?

Would you really consider that "purchasing with a conscience?" Where's your conscience when it comes to the reader? Some people don't have a lot of disposable income to spend on entertainment. Some people read so much that if they paid full price for everything, they'd go broke. Some people like books that have already been read a few times so the spine is broken in. Some people just like saving a few bucks. The reasons people buy used books are none of your business. Let them be.

Shopping at Whole Foods is a choice. So is shopping at Half Price Books. What if you were buying organic gluten free cereal at a Whole Foods and some stranger came up to you and told you that you should really pay double for that at some other store because the factory workers earn more when you do? Would you consider that a public service, or an invasion of privacy? What if EVERY item you bought at Whole Foods came with a personal do-gooder who approached you, saying you should really pay more for it at another store because it is better for the world that way?

It is the reason you don't buy Blood Diamonds.

So your store sold blood diamonds?

If it did, why did you still work there? Did you get commission on selling them?

If not, and you're bringing this up to say that you explained to customers why the diamonds you sold were more expensive, you're dodging my original question. I'm not talking about slave labor our juntas, and to compare that to writing is a gross exaggeration. I said:

Have you ever told a customer, "Sure, you can buy that diamond ring for $6000. But those diamond miners don't make a dime off of it. Instead, buy this EXACT SAME ring for $12,000, because then the miners make 6%."

Because THAT is the argument you want to use on readers who buy used books. And I can guarantee it's one you never used on the sales floor.

I'm sure you've got some tremendous insights to share with authors. This isn't one of them. Let it go and move on. For example, in your last post you mentioned:

I can’t count how many e-mails I get where a reader just gushes how my book changed their life. How awesome my book was. They loved it!

…then never write a review.


This also happens to me. So what's the solution? Do you write back and say, "Thanks! It would be awesome if you wrote this in a review?"

At the end of your books, do you thank the reader and ask for a review? This has become ubiquitous with apps.

How writers can get more reviews is a useful debate I want to have, and my readers want to see it.

Joe Konrath said...

No other career where you sell a product over and over for decades?

Change my mind.

Writing software, especially vertical market solutions like "WidgetMakerPro" specialized for a certain industry

I'd guess that's consistently updated. Not only for bug fixes and improvements, but as features are added and operating systems/platforms evolve.

Certain visual arts like photography or printmaking that lend themselves to mass production.

Photos make sense. A single iStock jpg could sell forever. Printmaking involves a physical product, so there are continued costs of production and delivery, but I see your point there.

Music, for crying out loud.

I agree. We've finally reached that point.

FWIW, I've owned five copies of Wish You Were Here. My parents had it on 8 Track. I bought it on vinyl, and cassette, and CD, and finally mp3. But I don't think I'll need to buy it again.

Thanks for reminding me about the broader picture. I'll retract my earlier statement and enlarge it to include all digital media.

Elle Carter Neal said...

I don't think Kristen was giving authors bad advice. She noticed a number of authors sharing the original Washington Post article that kicked off this debate and she said, Hey guys and gals, you (as authors) probably don't want to share that article; here's why: (reasons include the WP article vilifying online sites where authors get paid = readers may mistakenly believe you are encouraging them to stop buying your books from Amazon and switch to used book stores).

Joe Konrath said...

I don't think Kristen was giving authors bad advice.

That part about not sharing the article isn't bad. I agree with that.

Here's the bad advice, in quotes.

"We like getting paid for our work. We work really really hard and expect (rightfully) that we should be rewarded for doing so."

My blog post is about how this sense of entitlement is wrong. No one owes us a living.

"Oh, but it is artsy and bohemian to rip writers off because old books are cool?"

Buying used books doesn't equate to ripping writers off.

"Encourage and educate readers to do the same (buy new books and ebooks)."

It isn't wise to tell readers what to buy. I've gone into a lot of detail in the comments here.

"It is amazing how much profit margins increase when you don’t actually have to pay the person who worked long and hard and sacrificed to create the product you are profiting from."

100% incorrect. See my explanation above.

"If you don’t support the little guys they won’t be around."

That's fear mongering, a slippery slope, and several other fallacies I'm too lazy to look up. But it's demonstrably incorrect because it will never happen. As I said, I've always had books sold by used bookstores, and it hasn't hurt me. I even encourage booksellers to sell galleys. And guess what? Some bookstores can only stay in business because they sell galleys. We want them to stay in business. The more, the better.

"And if we ARE going to promote used bookstores (which IS fine) then by GOD educate readers and ask for the sale. Let them know that you will not be paid off that sale and to please also buy a full-price version if they like your book."

This is the heart of the bad advice. Read my many reasons why above.

"No one else works for free. You shouldn’t either."

Debunked this one, too. All writers work for free on every novel that doesn't get an advance. I did it ten times before I was published, and countless times since. Bad advice.

"And we have to call people out when they devalue what we do."

Calling out readers for buying used is an awful idea.

"I believe in you and hope you see that I DO support bookstores, but dammit…it is about %$#ing time they returned the favor and supported those who are bleeding to line their pockets."

Wrong again. Authors don't bleed to line the pockets of bookstores. Publishers are the ones bleeding bookstores. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the bookselling process works.

At what point can I start saying this is bad advice? Shall I keep going?

"We already do way too much for free."

No one is forcing you to write. No one has hired you to write. What you do for free is your choice. You don't deserve income for it.

"Maybe take some of those “high profits” and invest in apps or tablets with links to NEW works by the authors?"

This actually made me LOL. In my book Dirty Martini, I thank over 1200 booksellers by name. Do you know why? Because I met those booksellers on tour. Many of them were indies.

Has Kristen ever met an indie bookseller? Because "high profits" is one of the goofiest things ever said. Booksellers are fiercely passionate, and most of them love books. But I don't know any that do it for the money, because there IS NO MONEY.

Now she's got me yelling. :)

I could continue pointing out bad advice in her latest post, if you'd like me to. But now this seems less like proving my point and more like kicking someone when they're down.

Kristen seems like a decent, helpful writer who cares about her peers. I'm all for that. We need more writers like that. And I'm sure she has a lot of good advice to share. I'm not attacking her personally. I'm just showing how this particular idea is a bad one.

If you disagree with me, I'd love to hear why.

Anonymous said...

Any way one of my books gets into a readers hand, that's a potential customer. Anything thats preventing a reader from getting one of my books is an impediment to be overcome. It's the biggest reason I self publish, fewer obstacles in the way. If they get it through a library, a torrent site, a discount store or a bookstore, that is one pair of eyes reading something I wrote. And more than one author and publishing company has shown how a free book, or even a less pricy book, can move sales.

Take Baen for example. They were the first to make a few of their authors backlist for free, and almost everyone of them reported a sales increase in their respective libraries. If your book is on sale at some half price store, begging someone, or shaming them, into not buying it there and paying full price for it somewhere else is a losers proposition. If they buy it at Half price and they don't like it, yes, your out of money. If they like it, and decide to buy more books on your backlist, be it used or new, then your reaching readers, and that's what every author should want.

Telling a potential reader they are doing something wrong is the surest way to end up with a dwindling number of them willing to shell out full price for your books.



Alan Spade said...

"But don't ever tell readers "Don't buy my book used."

That's really stupid."

Well Joe, just in 2015, I handsold more than 1,100 paperback books, priced between €14 and €24.

I have some personal rules when handselling my books. "Never beg, never try to make customers buy your books out of pity for you" is one of them. "Never insist when you get a "no"" is another.

I've already encoutered people that told me they bought only used books. I did not shame them or lecture them. I just told them, in the most neutral tone, that they must be aware that the authors don't make a dime with used books.

Then I hand over a leaflet with the blurbs of my books and my website, telling them to speak about my books around them, and that the ebook of my €21 paperback book is only priced at €2.99.

I try to create a bond even with customers buying only used books. Once, I met a guy who bought my book at a Cash Converter. He was also an author. We hit it off, and he wrote a blog post about my book. Later on, I met him again, and sold him books 2 and 3 at full price.

Your advice not to shame customers is spot on, but there's a fine line between shaming and making them aware of the economics.

What makes me think that you are losing this debate is your gross comparison: "Have you ever told a customer, "Sure, you can buy that diamond ring for $6000. But those diamond miners don't make a dime off of it. Instead, buy this EXACT SAME ring for $12,000, because then the miners make 6%."

Readers can buy complete novels at $2.99. That's less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And wanting to be paid is not incompatible with loss leaders, even free and permafree loss leaders. It's not incompatible with marketing.

When you say sentences like "We like getting paid for our work. We work really really hard and expect (rightfully) that we should be rewarded for doing so." are equating to a sense of entitlement, I couldn't disagree more.

Does a craftsperson have a sense of entitlement just because he said he worked really hard on a violin? Why should works of the mind be different at all?

Yes, anybody can tell stories to his children, yes, we aren't doing brain surgery, but the way the stories build and unfold is what will make the difference between children asking for more and children who don't engage in the story. There is craft involved in writing.

Should this craft be monetized? It depends upon the persons. But for some of us, money is a tool which allows us to continue doing what we love to. Try searching Kris Rusch's blog about writers who disappeared, and try to convince me that money had nothing to do with that state of things. Good luck with that!

Finally, beware of being too kind with booksellers. I have a business relationship with some of them, but I'm also aware that the horrible system of returns they support has caused the demise of an uncountable number of small presses. The publishers aren't the only one to be guilty. And many of the authors working for these small presses quit permanently, only some of them coming back to self-publish because of the rise of the ebooks.

Jesse Wells said...

Let me tell you a story that almost everyone reading this can relate to. I fell in love with my first story in the fifth grade. It was in a paperback rack in my 5th grade science and social studies classroom. The pages were well worn and the cover faded a bit. Still, I read and loved it. I loved it so much that I searched for almost seven years before I found it again (couldn't remember the title or the author, just everything between the pages...it was my first novel, so that stuff didn't matter to me yet).

The moment I found the book (at a University library while I was doing research for my senior high school term paper), I went nuts. I wrote down the author and the title this time. And, then, when I had the money, I bought it. Why? So I could read it again and again.

I did that with dozens of authors and hundreds of books. Every time I had the chance, I picked up my favorites for my personal library. I was a poor kid. The library was my only doorway to another world.

Subscription services are much like libraries. The only difference: you actually get paid (a small amount, but you STILL get paid) every time it is read. There is a beautiful opportunity for a reader to find a jewel in places like Kindle Unlimited. I discovered fifteen new-to-me amazing authors last year alone. They are now autobuy.

Think about that. With a subscription service, you have to give the book back to read more, or if you can't pay next month, you lose access to those books. But...if you BUY them, they're yours forever.

And the best part about KU is this: the author gets paid for the pages I read AND the royalty cost for buying the book after I decided I had to have it in my forever shelf. I may not be able to buy every month, but you'd better believe when I can, I do.

I'm a woman up there in my years going back to college, and I'm hanging out with kids who are younger than MY kids. When you're paying for college textbooks that are more expensive than the class you enrolled in, paying 4 times the amount of money for food on campus as anywhere else, etc. you cut corners where you can. These kids I hang out with in class are reading voraciously. In all genres. I took an impromptu poll of about 100 young adults and here are the three ways it's happening: 1. free ebooks 2. subscription service 3. library. Three people said they only buy print copies from bookstores. Five said they prefer ordering print online. The rest were ebook readers.

Dawn Montgomery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse Wells said...

Kindle Unlimited is actually sending me targeted emails since I have a college student prime account. I'm also a military veteran and when I go to my all-day appointments at the VA hospital (seriously, they are ALL DAY from this doctor to that one) people sit and chat about this subscription service or that in the waiting rooms. Fixed income individuals need to seriously budget their spending.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't expect to get paid for a book. I'm saying there is a way for someone to borrow your book and you still get paid for it. Far more than the used book store or library way (get paid once and that's it).

A marketing class I took once said there are three paths to follow with your book launch: exposure, revenue, impact. While each book could go down its own path, your author brand will primarily put you on one of these.

Basically: If your goal is to get in front of as many readers as possible, subscription services may be your best bet. If your goal (your primary focus) is revenue then publishing across all platforms makes more sense (I hope you're offering the ebooks from your own website as well, if that's the case). Yes, you can gain new readers via royalties only and you can gain revenue from subscription services, but the focus for you is one or the other. Impact usually involves a call to action. That's more common in non-fiction than fiction, so it's never part of my business plan.

I go for exposure. That's just me, though. I'm thinking about the deployed mom of three kids who is missing her family, desperately filling those long lonely nights of insomnia with hundreds of books she could never put in her rucksack. The daughter diving into a new genre she wouldn't normally buy while sitting vigil in the hospital room while her mother recovers from her third heart surgery. The teenager who begs his mom to put off getting him new shoes for another month (the holes aren't that big of a deal, mom) so he can download his favorite author's latest book on the city bus wifi (where it's free in his city) through Kindle Unlimited (and then binge reads the entire series again ten books at a time). The grandmother who can't stop reading, but can't afford to buy thirty books a month and/or have the ability to get to the library.

They might not be able to buy your books today, but one day, when they can, they'll remember that your stories got them through some rough patches. And that's when they buy your books and keep them close to their hearts forever. In the meantime you're still getting paid for their love of reading.

I don't think either side of the argument is wrong. It's a matter of perspective.

Thanks for the great post. A lot of food for thought and I hope I made sense.

Happy Writing to all the writers and happy reading to all the readers.

-Jesse

Alan Spade said...

I wrote a blog post about ethical reading, and subscription services just came second behind torrent sites as the worst way to pay authors -- although, I must say Kindle Unlimited, even with the payment decreasing each month, gives a lot more money to the authors than other subscription platforms.

Still, I may give KU a try in 2016 -- but not for all my books.

Joe Konrath said...

Does a craftsperson have a sense of entitlement just because he said he worked really hard on a violin? Why should works of the mind be different at all?

You're conflating a lot here, Alan.

A craftsperson can't make infinite copies of the violin he handcrafted. Each one is handmade.

There is no guarantee the craftsperson will sell the violin. There is no guarantee anyone will sell anything. But when people think they deserve to be paid for making something on spec, that speaks to a definite sense of entitlement. If you've never heard the term, "on spec" means "on speculation"; in other words he isn't making a violin to fufill an order or a contract, he's making it hoping someone will buy it. Most screenplays are written on spec. And most Hollywood screenwriters know that they don't deserve to be paid for a spec script.

Intellectual property and digital media don't subscribe to the familiar rules of supply and demand, for a multitude of reasons I've discussed over the years on this blog. When there is no production cost or delivery charge, and when consumers pay for an experience rather than physical possession, the definition of ownership becomes blurry. You can own that violin. Technically you can't own an ebook.

I've pointed tens of thousands of customers to my ebooks. Nothing wrong with that. But no matter how neutrally you say "the author doesn't get paid for used books" I still disagree with the tactic. It is never a wise idea to make a customer feel bad about a purchase. Not when the goal is to develop warm fuzzy feelings. And telling them--however politely--that they are ripping off the artist will not inspire warm fuzzy feelings.

Joe Konrath said...

BTW Alan--I don't get paid for this blog. But writers deserve to get paid.

I notice you've commented here many times over the years. How can you expect to keep doing that when I'm not being compensated for my time and effort? I mean, if I don't get paid, I might have to stop blogging.

Here's an idea: how about you PayPal me some money? I won't ask for 70% ebook royalty rates--I sell ebooks for $3.99 and make $2.74 for each purchase. So how about mass market paperback royalty rates? That's only 8%. On a $7.99 ebook, I used make 60 cents.

I think it's only fair to me--the writer--that you, and everyone reading my blog, PayPal me 60 cents every time you read one of my blog posts.

Also, please pay me 60 cents every time I respond to one of your comments.

I figure you owe me a few hundred dollars by now. I mean, it's only fair, right? I'm not trying to shame you. I'm just making you aware of the economics. I work really hard on this blog and I should be rewarded for doing so.

:)

Aaron (aka G) said...

"Here's an idea: how about you PayPal me some money?"
Funny, I see a more and more authors blogging who now do this, so your example isn't as ridiculous as you made it out to be.

FYI, I don't really think successful authors should need to be paid to blog...but that's a different conversation.

Anonymous said...

"I think it's only fair to me--the writer--that you, and everyone reading my blog, PayPal me 60 cents every time you read one of my blog posts."

Sure. But I've now commented to agree to that 60c, and by reading this comment you agree to give me $100 so if you could just PayPal me the $99.40, we'll call it even (or $99.80 if you need to reply to this post before settling up).

Or we could agree that charges imposed after the fact are absurd. That wouldn't preclude us from agreeing that future charges could be imposed, if we wished to do so.

We've all got the right to deal with our stuff as we see fit. If we want to give it away we can. If we don't, there's no obligation to.

One thing WarriorWriter did make a valid point about is that we don't have to point readers to second hand bookshops. Failing to tell people to go buy second hand books is not the same as discouraging them. There is a difference. It makes sense to point readers towards Amazon if they ask.

Aaron (aka G) said...

"Failing to tell people to go buy second hand books is not the same as discouraging them. There is a difference. It makes sense to point readers towards Amazon if they ask."

This is my point as well.

Pirating...second hand bookshops...whatever.

I ignore them, I try and capture readers (via Facebook, mailing list, etc) and then I try to push those readers to the venues and retailers that suit my business strategy.

Which is why I disagree with Joe about courting the pirate community, because I don't think that's a worthwhile avenue to bother with, when I have thousands and thousands of PAYING customers that I haven't captured yet. Why don't you first completely penetrate and saturate your paying customers in terms of being able to drive them where you want them to go?

You can't even fully utilize your PAYING customers, and already you're going after piracy communities...shakes head. I could say more but I won't.

J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

In general, I agree with you, Joe. I'm certainly not going to spend my time trying to police the internet or worry over whether people are reading me for free. I've given away tens of thousands of copies of my books through free promotions over the years -- I am still waiting for those people to crack the ebooks!! :) Every new reader is great for my future, no matter how they found me. And you'll NEVER find me being unkind to people for how they choose to read. I just want everyone TO READ.

Let's realize this is all a big distraction from what we should be doing, which is writing. Back to it.

Have a great and productive new year, Joe!

Cliff Burns said...

Frankly, Joe, there are a number of books I've read in the past while (traditionally published and P.O.D.) where I've felt that the author should be paying ME to endure their horrible sludge.

I always shudder when I get mail from folks asking me how they can "monetize" their work. And all these Book Expos and Indie Publishing events that feature sessions and panels on how to acquire agents, "pitch" a story or, yes, "monetize" their invariably sub-literate efforts. But little thought these days seems to be given to how to produce better, more literate books. Too much crap is being published (the explosion of print-on-demand mostly to blame) and it's very, very difficult for quality writers to draw attention to their work.

It's nice to get paid but it's even nicer to get NOTICED. And, frankly, even after 30 years in this biz, that's still my biggest problem, my #1 concern.

Joe Konrath said...

"Failing to tell people to go buy second hand books is not the same as discouraging them. There is a difference. It makes sense to point readers towards Amazon if they ask."

Agreed. But I was okay with Kristen saying that. If she'd stopped there, I wouldn't have blogged.

Joe Konrath said...

You can't even fully utilize your PAYING customers, and already you're going after piracy communities...shakes head. I could say more but I won't.

Feel free to say more, Aaron.

Pirates are consumers, too. There are as many different reasons for file sharing as there are file sharers. Here is a worldwide network--for fans--set up independently--by fans--and artists are ignoring it.

That's short sighted at best.

Wherever people gather, there is money to be made. When people gather specifically to share media, it seems foolish to not take advantage of that avenue.

Let's say you have a hot dog cart in a high traffic area in Central Park, and it does well. So well, that you invest in a few more carts, and put them in different spots in the Park.

Then Occupy Wall Street happens. A flood of people who gathered densely in one spot. Would you maybe send one of your carts over there to check it out?

I would. And I will. But you can keep trying to saturate a market that everybody already knows about. No one is forcing you to explore, innovate, or think outside the box.

Aaron (aka G) said...

Joe said: "I would. And I will. But you can keep trying to saturate a market that everybody already knows about. No one is forcing you to explore, innovate, or think outside the box."

No, I fully intend and do think outside the box, but my point is that we haven't even fully explored the box we're in to start with. Most of us have thousands, hundreds of thousands even--of paying customers who we don't have access to and haven't yet captured.

These are the relatively low-hanging fruit that can be gotten to by mailing lists and Facebook ads and using Amazon to link to other work and drive traffic, etc. And there's more to be done and better, more refined methods that authors are still just coming up with to target that huge mass of paying customers.

So all I am saying is why don't you spend your considerable talents absolutely crushing THAT market and fully penetrating the customer base at Amazon?

I think moving over to a new customer base like the pirates might be a fun diversion, but I don't see it being particularly smart in terms of a return on time investment. If you do it for fun and curiosity, fine. But the money is in capturing the customers we already have--which many of us (myself included) have been woefully inefficient at doing thus far...

Also, sorry to have missed you in chat last night. Wish you'd come back and post some more on the forum sometime. We have some threads that could benefit from your involvement--but YOU could also benefit from the info we have too...

Alan Spade said...

Joe said: "A craftsperson can't make infinite copies of the violin he handcrafted. Each one is handmade.

There is no guarantee the craftsperson will sell the violin. There is no guarantee anyone will sell anything. But when people think they deserve to be paid for making something on spec, that speaks to a definite sense of entitlement."

Nice try, Joe. But you are somewhat distorting the situation. We are not speaking about an author saying she deserves to be paid just because she has written the book and self-published it.

We are talking about a reader who is interested by the book (which means that the book has some value in her eyes), want to invest some money in it, but not enough to pay the author. These things can happen willingly or unwillingly.

My point, and Kristen's, is that we have to make the readers aware of the consequences. Especially when said readers are fellow authors!

Last day, I saw a news report about the way Apple has the rare metals the company needs for its smartphones extracted. Frankly, if I were into smartphones, it would make me think twice before purchasing an iPhone. It didn't make me want to shoot the messenger. It raised my consciousness. In doing so, it made me a better customer, so that I can vote with my wallet.

Your analogy: "I figure you owe me a few hundred dollars by now. I mean, it's only fair, right? I'm not trying to shame you. I'm just making you aware of the economics. I work really hard on this blog and I should be rewarded for doing so.

:)", however fun it may be, is wrong. I have a complete novel in permafree. Do I spy on readers who download the ebook and ask them for retribution? Of course no. That would equate your analogy.

If we don't have set up a Paypal button on our blogs, we can just hope to be paid in karma money, and that's the beauty of the thing. That's what every person who comments, bringing something to the table, may also hope. :)

However, Joe, you have my gratitude for taking your worthy time to answer me. I promise I will try to be less... "sticky" this year. :)

Joe Konrath said...

My point, and Kristen's, is that we have to make the readers aware of the consequences.

My point is that we have to make readers aware that our books exist, no matter how they're read.

If you feel the need to lecture readers about the bargain they're getting, feel free. But maybe you should look at the comments in Kristen's blog post and read what some of the readers who disagree with her say.

Ed Wyrd said...

For decades I've listen to Harlan Ellison's advice "Pay the Writer!"

Now you come along and say, "Don't pay the writer!"

I'm really confused.

Alan Spade said...

"Some" of the readers, yes. But then, I also read this comment, that made me think Kristen's post wasn't useless:

"Well I am stalking your blog now and you may see me over and over in your comments. I had no clue, or perhaps just never gave it a thought who got the money from used book sales. After reading your post I am dumbfounded as to why writers would be cheering for the Huffington article. I think that educating consumers is the key. I have read all my life, voraciously, and never knew the pay structure for authors. All one really hears as a reader is that the writer got an “advance” of thousands of dollars. I think most readers probably don’t know the truth and I think most would care that writers were paid fairly. Perhaps there needs to be a marketing campaign, including as many writers as possible to begin educating readers. Instead of dropping my books off at the used bookstore, or sending them to goodwill, I just sent several boxes of paperback books to a women’s prison. Now I will link this on my Facebook page…since my blog isn’t ready to post this back to."

Joe Konrath said...

"Some" of the readers is too many. It only takes one to complain on Goodreads for a shame storm to start.

I think most readers probably don’t know the truth and I think most would care that writers were paid fairly.

Shall we also educate readers on the first sale doctrine of copyright law, which shows that writers were indeed fairly paid for used books from that first sale?

Or shall we educate readers on the math of used vs. new as far as writers are concerned? For example:

$30 hardcover new = Writer earns $4.50. As opposed to a half price used book that costs $15.

So a reader should pay $11 more so a writer can earn $4.50? And that's assuming the writer has hit that 15% figure from having 10,000+ sales, as boilerplate dictates. 5000 sales means a writer only earns $3 on a new hardcover sale.

Should we really expect a reader to pay $15 more for a book, when only $3 of that goes to the writer?

$8 paperback new = Writers earns 64 cents. As opposed to a half price book that costs $4.00.

So a reader should pay $4 more so a writer can earn 64 cents?

By all means, if we're going to educate readers, let's not let them believe that every extra dime they spend on a new book goes to the writer. The majority of new book money goes to the publisher; the one screwing the writer.

Should we also educate readers about writers who want to get their rights back? Every new sale--and the shitty royalties it provides--means less of a chance for those rights to revert.

Does Kristen know this stuff about how publishing works? She wrote in her post that writers are paid quarterly, or annually, depending on what their agent negotiates. Which is absurd. Writers are paid twice a year, and agents have no sway over any publisher's accounting department. A few sentences earlier, she stated that writers get royalties from remainders. Wrong. Writers get ZERO for remainders. she claims a standard print run for a new author is 10,000. Based on what info? What's the genre? Is this hard, soft, or trade? How big is the publisher or imprint? What was the advance?

If Kristen wants to educate anyone, writers or readers, she needs to get her facts right. Misinformation doesn't help, it harms.

Alan Spade said...

""Some" of the readers is too many. It only takes one to complain on Goodreads for a shame storm to start."

Isn't it fear mongering?

I think Kristen's valid points outweighs her errors. We both know that the business model of traditional publishing is broken. One of her points was really in favor of indie publishing: if readers buy ebooks rather than used book, the money will go to the authors.

Even by using a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited, more money will go toward the authors (most of the ones who use KU are indies) than with used books.

I think we can both agree on that last point... and agree to disagree for the rest. I need it, if I am to keep my promise. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Isn't it fear mongering?

No. It's being cautious.

Saying that if everyone buys used books there will be no more authors is fear mongering. That's asking people to take a stand on an unrealistic issue.

There have been many instances on Goodreads where author/reader debates have become big news. And the authors always loses.

Her valid points outweigh her errors? Really? It's okay to write something full of errors as long as one or two points make sense?

The quest for truth is spearheaded by science. One thing required in science is peer review. Something can't be 50% correct and 50% incorrect and still get published. It needs to be 100% correct. One mistake invalidates the whole hypothesis.

Now blogging isn't science. But reasonable people can agree that valid points can be watered down, or even lost completely, if surrounded by incorrect points.

Even by using a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited, more money will go toward the authors (most of the ones who use KU are indies) than with used books.

That's a false premise. Because before those books were used, they were bought new. And when bought new, the author made royalties. Used doesn't exist without new.

With KU, there aren't many bestselling authors in the program. Because print still trumps ebooks in sales for guys like King and Child.

You question should be "Does an author make more money on paper sales than KU borrows?" The new/used paper sales should be lumped together. Perhaps, on a per-unit/per-borrow example, KU may come out ahead, but we can't ever know because there is no way to measure how many times a used book is bought and sold, and how often a used copy sold truly means a lost new sale.

That's one of the stupid statistics about piracy. Groups like the RIAA insist that every pirated song is a lost sale. That's bullshit. There are many things downloaded for free that the downloader would never ever buy. There are many things file-shared that aren't even available for sale new.

You can't say, "Well, he bought a used book, but if that didn't exist he would have bought it new for sure." Wrong. If the used book didn't exist, that reader could use the library, or borrow it from Mom, or pirate it online, or steal a paper copy from B&N. There are many alternatives to buying new.

I could go on. But I think I've reached the point where I'm repeating myself. Anyone who reads this thread can get a good sense of both arguments, and draw their own conclusions.

Thanks everyone for your contributions.

Lola Smirnova said...

Another great post! Thank you, Joe. :)

Jm Cornwell said...

Somewhere along the line, Joe, you forgot that the libraries that loan your book bought the book, and usually several copies of the book, to loan then. You were paid for the books the libraries loans. Libraries didn't buy millions of copies and they do get a discount rate, but they do buy books, multiple copies of books to be loaned to the people of the community where the library was built.

I get what you mean about being owed a living. It's rather like working for someone expecting to get paid for your time and input the same way you agree to being at an office or store or job anywhere, even in government, without expecting to be paid for that time, even (or maybe especially) if that time is spent writing for said said business, government, store, or service. How entitled to expect to be paid for giving up time to be at someone else's beck and call and do what they want without regard to what you want. I'll bet those people even expect to be paid for holidays and health care too.

Your analogy only works so far. The real analogy would be that everything is free (housing, food, clothing) and we have all been duped into believing that there is value in housing, food, and clothing that we should have to pay for. Shame on whoever enslaved us to a piece of metal or plastic or clay stamped with a picture or words and called it money. That is the real criminal, the real entitlement source and not people who just want to write and be paid for the product they produce. After all, the words may or may not be memorable, but expecting people to pay for the 1s and 0s that create a product in a world of flashing lights and data or a book made of paper that someone else had to put together in order for those words to be purchased for as long as the book and the words remain is an idiot. Better to sell the reader a T-shirt or bumper sticker or millions of T-shirts and bumper stickers because they will at least get something for using that awful money created in antiquity and enslaving us to the idea that those bits and bobs have value when the only value is money. I'll bet the ghosts of those ancestors are just waiting for the technology to come back and demand payment for digging up the tablets they inscribed and reading the contents.

Guy R said...

--"But when people think they deserve to be paid for making something on spec, that speaks to a definite sense of entitlement. If you've never heard the term, "on spec" means "on speculation"; in other words he isn't making a violin to fufill an order or a contract, he's making it hoping someone will buy it. Most screenplays are written on spec. And most Hollywood screenwriters know that they don't deserve to be paid for a spec script."

Ah your lack of Hollywood experience is showing :) When dealing with producers and directors (and I have, as VFX Artist for Hollywood for more than 15 years now) you damn well better swagger into that office with the ultimate sense of entitlement.

If you haven't convinced yourself that you're worth a million bucks, you sure as hell aren't going sway them with your demure smile. You go in knowing you're worth the money, you tell them you're worth the money with nary a waver in conviction, and you just *might* walk away with a contract for the money. Most screenwriters NEVER make a sale in Hollywood, and with your advice they never will.

Of course, I generally agree with everything you've said here in relation to the book- buying public--it's a far different beast than what dwells in Hollywood.

W. ADAM MANDELBAUM said...

Big JAK fan here, but this time could not agree with you less. Ever hear of the insurance business? Residuals paid on one sale as long as policy in force. How about energy sales? Residuals paid on one sale as long as account open. Screw one and done. Why the Hell shouldn't an author get paid ad infinitum on sales? Author owed a living? No, but you read him, you should pay him, other than library or used book purchase scenarios. Joe, you don't like copyright laws? Tell you what, bequeath all of your rights to me in your Will, because I do like them.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting Joe. In Australia we have an "arts" community (very broad.. film, opera, painting sculptor, writing etc) that is constantly up in arms if there is any talk of reduction in government "grants" (ie distribution of taxpayers' money) to the "arts".

There is quite a bit of discussion about this from time to time on a blog by Tim Blair at the Daily Telegraph (a Sydney newspaper). The general thrust being that.. if people aren't interested enough in your work that you can make a living from it, then it's a hobby.. NOT an entitlement to taxpayer funding because that's what you choose to do. As you can imagine, the "entitled" luvvies' heads explode. Have a look at the blog if you have time. Tim has an ongoing love affair with the USA and is a frequent visitor. Quite a lot of comments on the blogs are from the USA as well.

What's really interesting is when you look at some of the "work" funded by grants. It's diabolical.

Anyway, I enjoy your books Joe/Jack and I am more than happy to pay for them (and I thing they are priced very reasonably). It's refreshing to hear someone in your line of work take this principled view.

John (from down-under)