Jan 29

Paying the Writer

I read several blogs by and for writers to keep up with the business of writing. Blogs take time to write, and many include a “donate” link where readers can help fund the blogger’s time to maintain the blog. My favorite Donate button is on Passive Guy’s blog, The Passive Voice.  PG says, “Don’t click the button unless it makes you happy.” Besides the fact that PG maintains an awesome blog on the indie writing world, his gentle appeal does indeed make me happy to pitch in to help fund it.

On the other hand, another well-respected blogger put this statement at the end of a post: The minute funding dries up for this blog, I stop writing it.

Whoa. Maybe it’s just me, but this is rude. Although this blogger maintains a valuable blog, this… hmmm, how shall I put it?… this demand for funding turned me off to the point I no longer want to read the blog– much less donate a dime.

I’m seeing more writers take this militant stance. For instance, many books’ copyright and info page now includes a statement to the effect of, “If someone lent you this book, return it and buy your own copy.” Way to respect your readers, guys.

Now, don’t get me wrong. As a writer, I believe writers should be paid for our time and effort. And believe me, writing takes a lot of time and effort. But no one wins any fans by being demanding and entitled. Sure, a few readers might be guilt-tripped and intimidated into paying, but chances are good a lot of them won’t come back.

Here’s the way I look at the issue. You bought my book. It’s yours now. You read it and loved it enough to lend it to a friend. Thank you! I’m glad you have this much enthusiasm for my work. You may be inspired to buy more of my books, and if your friend feels the way you do, s/he might buy my books, too. In fact, if s/he wants to lend her copy to friends, wow! I’m really excited. That means more new readers.

So I’m all for libraries, too. All those people checking out books and reading them–gasp!–for free. Used bookstores, too. They’re a great place to discover new books and authors. Piracy doesn’t bother me much, as long as someone else isn’t making money off my work.

I think that’s the bottom line for me–if someone is going to make money from my work, I do want that someone to be me. But if you’re reading for your own enjoyment? Hey, that’s my job. I hope I’m doing it well enough you’ll tell your friends. Because the happier you are, dear reader, and the more books I sell, the more time I’ll be able to devote to writing them.

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