Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FREE is NOT Free!

I'm sure someone, somewhere is going to bitch-slap me for this post, but here goes...

We all like getting stuff for free, don't we? Personally, I love the swag I get in conference bags or two for one buys at the grocery store.

But why do a lot of readers think books should be FREE? Like they should be handed out like Halloween candy?

There, I've said it. The angry cat is out of the bag.

Today someone posted on Facebook asking authors where she could get FREE copies of their latest books. And several authors responded by saying they would be happy to send her their books. She did ask nicely, but it's my opinion she should not have asked at all.

Frankly, I'm just as upset with the authors forking over their books so easily. They make the rest of us look like money-grubbing, soulless Scrooges. They are also setting a dangerous precedent.

You see, this happens more than you might think. With books so cheap on places like Amazon, especially e-books, consumers have gotten used to those bargain basement prices,  including free, which are not the norm. Once a reviewer on Amazon posted that she really liked one of my books and noted that she'd gotten it as a Kindle Daily Deal. Then she tacked on that she was pissed because she'd had to pay full price for the next book in the series.  [insert an eye roll and groan here, along with a certain hand gesture]

Time for a little education.

Unless an author is at the top of the food chain, most authors make very little money off of the sale of their books, especially if they are traditionally published through a small publisher. Yet we toil for months and even years to bring them to our readers. When you do the math, a child working in a Calcutta sweat shop makes a higher hourly rate.

Authors also have a lot of expenses. We go to conferences to meet our readers. We drive to signings and library events. We travel for research. We pay for promotional materials, computers, Internet service, booze and happy pills. None of which is covered by our publisher. We sacrifice time with our family and friends and put ourselves under a lot of stress, all to bring some of happiness and entertainment to readers.

When's the last time you got in free to an Adele concert? Or a Tom Hanks movie? Do you go into a bakery, point to a pretty cake and ask if you can have it for free?

Of course not!  It's the same with books. Trust me, we don't pull book manuscripts out of our ass. We work long hard hours on each one.

Now don't you think we should get paid for that, just like the neighborhood baker and his cake?  To say no to this question is to disrespect the author, plain and simple.

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 1: Just so you don't think I'm a total bitch, let me say that every year I give away dozens of FREE books. I get a box of them from my publisher right before the book is released. These books are used for contests, charity baskets, library events, sent to reviewers not covered by my publisher, and even given as gifts to people who helped me with my research.  I've given books to hospitals and hospices, shelters, sick people, and even the armed forces. When the books the publisher sends me are gone, I have to PAY FOR MY OWN BOOKS to continue this giving.

The person on Facebook today never said she wanted these books for a non-profit entity. She was very clear that she wanted them for her own pleasure reading.

Well, honey, I pay for almost all the books I read,
so join the party!

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 2: I understand completely that some people are strapped for cash and cannot buy books. To those folks I say: Go to your local library. Authors get paid for the books you borrow from your library, whether in book, digital, or audio formats. And, like I said, I give a lot of books to libraries.  If your library doesn't have a certain book, ask them to order it for you. Most can and will.

Want a free copy of GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE?

Currently in the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook, there is a contest running. I'll be giving away 3 copies.

And I'm very happy to do it because I want to do it. It's my gift to my readers.


Shirley said...

I have received a few not published yet books for review the last few years and reviewed them for the authors. Otherwise, I pay for my books and would never consider asking for free books. That takes a lot of nerve!

Diane Vallere said...

Another great blog post. I laughed out loud when I got to, "Want a free copy of Ghost in the Guacamole?"

Jacqueline Vick said...

I'm late to the party, but great post.