Thursday, July 26, 2012

Worth

I'm a few days late updating this blog, but I'm sure nobody will mind.

I didn't reach my 10,000 words target on the novel. I didn't get anywhere near it, in fact. I think I've written a  grand total of 500 words on the project this week. The past couple of years have been frantic on the writing front. I've experienced immense pressure trying to hit my deadlines, and for once I don't have a novel deadline looming because I'm writing this one on spec. I think this is causing me to slow down, lose my impetus. For some reason, the drive has gone.

And there's another thing that's eating away at my motivation. Every time I go online, I see people falling over themselves to pimp their 99p eBook, or their free stories, and to me it seems to be devaluing literature. I'm not saying they're all bad writers - that's a different argument. All I'm saying is we shouldn't give our work away for free.

I don't want to give my work away for nothing; I work hard, I make sacrifices, I do everything possible to create the very best work that I can. That's worth something, worth paying something for.

It seems like there's a tidal wave of free product out there, and I feel drowned by it. It makes me ask myself an important question: does the world really need another horror novel? Probably not. This doesn't mean I won't write one. It just means that I no longer feel the desire to charge ahead at a breakneck pace just to get it done. I'll finish this in my own time, at my own pace, with care and diligence, and deliberation. With hard work. With craft.  Because I think that's what makes it worthy.

12 comments:

simonmarshalljones said...

You know, this encapsulates nicely the issue I have been thinnking a lot about recently. Some argue that by making their work free, they'll entice people to buy the rest. O'm not entirely convinced that that is what actually happens. Writers need to look at what they're doing and how much time it's taken them and get some recompense...

Mark West said...

Superb post and I have the same thoughts as you on it - giving away your 100,000 word novel might help you get 1000 downloads (woo hoo!) but it's not going to do that writer any good in the long term (hey, his last book was free, why should I pay for this one?) or the rest of us.

Somebody, last week, posted a MEME that said you pay £3.50 for a coffee which takes minutes to make, yet you want a book for less. The analogy doesn't quite work but the sentiment is grand.

For what it's worth, I'm really loving the existentialism of "Reaping The Dark" and I'm looking forward to more McMahon mayhem, however long it takes to reach us!

Steven Chapman said...

I read the above as “experienced immense pleasure trying to hit my deadlines”, I was about to call you crazy!

One of the things that annoys me about the barrage of 99ers, is that people seem to pimp one book for a week then start pimping another, then another, then another. Unless they’ve been writing for years and only now started to unearth their tales for the public then it means they’re literally churning out a weekly tale just for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. It hurts my brain to think about it, especially since it takes me so long to write a novel!

Sean Cummings said...

That's the scourge of self-publishing, Gary. Cheap dreck, all day, all night, you betcha!

Peter Coleborn / Alchemy Press said...

Succinctly said, Gary (I wish most bloggers could be so concise). I agree that free or practically-free eBooks undervalues or devalues the effort put into writing the thing in the first place. I'd also add that as a publisher I don't want to see my labours similarly devalued. However, I do see a role for tasters -- maybe a free chapter of a novel or a free story from a collection/anthology -- bait or inducement to buy the whole product.

www.alchemypress.co.uk

Mihai A. said...

Although I am a buyer I don't enjoy that practice at all, I look over them only on rare occasions.
As for writing, I believe that we live in a world way too obsessed with speed. Things move to fast for my liking. We fail to notice the important things around us because we are always on the run. So, it is good to hear that you are keeping your own rhythm - of course, that affects your earnings, but on the good side it can bring something wonderful on the surface. And as an admirer of your works I can only be happy to hear that. Without any consideration for the date when it would be available. After all, the good things come for those who wait!

Luke Walker said...

Interesting post. At the risk of self-pimping, I posted a free short story on my blog a while ago BUT I wouldn't dream of offering anything longer for free. That one only went up because it's bog all like my usual stuff but I liked it enough to want to share it. I also wouldn't go nuts trying to get people to read it. If people read it and like it, then cool. That's enough for me.

I'm nowhere near the position of making a living from writing which doesn't change much. I want to get paid for telling stories. People shouldn't feel entitled to free entertainment any more than they should feel entitled to a free car. And we, as writers, shouldn't cheapen our work and time by chucking any old shit at readers just because we can.

Gary Mc said...

Thanks for your comments, people - most interesting.

James Everington said...

At a slight tangent, I also don't believe the free thing even work very well for books that aren't mainstream enough for the casual brook browser. Anything remotely
cult or niche needs to grow by finding the *right* readers in my opinion i.e. those who share the authors tastes & interests, at least to a degree. The average reader, stumbling across a Ligotti story (hyperthetical example) & buying it just because it's free isn't likely to be buying all his books the next week; he's just not that kind of writer.

That's my view, anyway. Interesting post & comments.

Paul McAvoy said...

My god, I’m a 99p-er! To be honest, my collection is just a taster for would be readers of my work. I intend to publish a novel by the same means, but not as cheap. My problem is I hate having to send my book off to a million publishers knowing that 99 percent of them won’t even read my book. I think you have to be very lucky to get a deal, or be a ‘famous personality.’ E publishing is a great way to get your work out and you still get money and make your voice heard – who knows, a major publisher might well take on the work if it does okay (let’s look at fifty shades, for example?). Anyway, just thought I would get my tuppense-worth in, lol.

Stephen vOlk said...

Got to be a good idea to slow down, take stock, pause, consider - and not put something out there till it's the best it can be. This could be a watershed for you, Gary: suddenly feeling you don't "have to" charge ahead like a crazy person. Though we all love that crazy person dearly.

Gary Mc said...

It might at least keep me from a return to hospital... :-/