Freelancing and being an indie author is tough. It requires a level of self-confidence and stubbornness that few possess. Some would argue (perhaps rightly) this isn’t a virtue. I’ve always been a reader and writer. It’s what I do, for good or ill.
To support this, recently I’ve created a Patreon account where readers can directly support my writing. It’s a great way to sustain creators (writers, artists, musicians, etc.). Also, this year I began offering commissioned book reviews. What does that mean? For a very modest fee ($20), I will read, write, and share a relatively substantial (500 words minimum) review of the book provided. I’ve always loved book reviews because it not only encourages and informs readers but it promotes authors. When I ran Gently Read Literature, I was always trying to come up with schemes to pay the book reviewers I recruited. I couldn’t do it. All I could do is send them a free book and share their necessary and quality criticism. There were always readers; audience was never really a problem.
What was the problem? No one wanted to pay for it.
Writing like music is expected to be ever present and free. Yet without compensating creators, the quality of work out there is getting poorer and poorer.
This morning I got a couple of email responses, one from a poet and the other from a publicist. Both of these people had reached out to me in an attempt to get me to promote their work on my sites and social media. I am willing to do this, but I made the decision earlier this year to no longer write for free. So both got my standard reply along the lines of ‘Thanks for reaching out. Here is my review policy. If you decide to not use my service, then there’s no need to reply back.’
The poet replied back by dismissively saying he didn’t pay for reviews. Fair enough, I thought. So I sent him a message back, ‘Great. I don’t write for free.’ The publicist made it a point to disdain my policy by informing me that they did not “participate in pay-to-play opportunities” and that most readers and book bloggers participated “due to pure passion.”
Both of these replies were unnecessary. I had already told them that if they didn’t want to use my talents then they didn’t have to talk to me again. But, yet, both felt the need to throw shade at me for having the nerve to demand compensation for my writing.
So I went on a bit of a Twitter rant, which you can read below. I’m writing this post for two reasons. First, no one is forcing anyone to read, watch, or listen to anything. That means that ‘spam’ doesn’t really exist. If you don’t want to read, watch, or listen, then don’t. Move on and find something you do. But when you do, and this is my second point, find something you like, that challenges, engages, or entertains, you have an obligation to compensate the creators of it.
I’ve been trying my best to live by this, to not take advantage of the ‘free economy’ that degrades content. I’m still striving to get right–to support others and be supported. It’s an ongoing process when you’re an indie author and freelancer.
So I signal boost the creators I admire and enjoy. But I also make it a point to compensate them, not just ‘support’ them. I don’t have enough to give to all but I’m always trying. I think you should too.
So that’s it. I’m going to keep writing, read it if you want or don’t. But if you do read what I write, if you do find it worth reading, then you ought to do your part.