It’s no news to anyone that life isn’t always easy. There are hard parts in everything we do.
As an author, some of those parts – many of those parts – are out of our control.
We get the idea, write the story, refine the story, send it out, and try to remember to breathe while we wait. Maybe we’re waiting on a critique from critique partners or feedback from a beta reader, on something to help us make the story better, stronger, or maybe even different — something we didn’t consider.
Perhaps we’re waiting to hear if an agent or publisher like it, if we’ve found that perfect story at that perfect time that allows us to capture someone’s attention. If we’ve decided to self-publish then we could be waiting on a proofreader, copyeditor, or formatter. On the artwork…on the upload.
And then, when that story is out there all by its little self, in the big wide world, about to (hopefully) get devoured, all we can do is wait.
Reviews are a double edged sword for authors. We need them, desperately. Seriously, if you read a book and enjoy it, please, please, please write one review and copy paste it in a few spots. But I digress. We need reviews, we’re told we have to have them, that they’re important for algorithms and rankings…
But we really shouldn’t be reading them in the first place.
It’s hard to keep away from places like goodreads and Amazon. It’s difficult not to let harsh reviews get to you. To eat away at you and erode the meager confidence you’ve managed to build. Maybe you save a couple of really nice ones to get you through the bad and re-read them with a flashlight in the dark. Okay fine, they might be in the notes on your phone – whatever…
The point is, reviews aren’t even the worst of it (even though they can sometimes be the best of it! See this crazy gig of a whirly rollercoaster starting?).
Then there are pirates.
So – let’s rewind a little bit.
Every singe book that’s written, whether you’ve spent ten years, ten months, or ten weeks writing it… has taken time. I’m not sure how long others take, but I have to plot and research it all, and then I draft, and then I revise, and then I edit. There can be several revisions depending on my brain and how much else needs to be added. And then there’s the time you spend arranging everything else, searching for agents, searching for editors — if you’re self publishing then there auditioning editors, finding cover artists… and let’s not talk about marketing.
That is time. An author’s time is worth money too. And a plethora of hours go into the creative property that readers get to enjoy.
EXCEPT – even when books cost less than a coffee, less than a SMALL coffee, and people still feel entitled to have them for free.
Keep in mind that authors don’t get the cover price, they receive a percentage. Even if you self publish through Amazon and use the 70% option, the 70% is generous and dependent on the size of the book file. Let’s say you get $2 per book (as a traditionally published author the amount is less and contract dependent – and then you have to wait anywhere from 2-6 months to get your money, but that’s a whole different rant). That means you need to sell 3.625 ish books per HOUR for eight hours a day to make minimum wage. That would mean 29 books per day.
To make minimum wage.
What’s that? Well won’t other people buy it?
Of course they will, but if everyone starts thinking that way the author gets no money, and no one can live off minimum wage anyway – we’ve had that long established in America.
As a general rule writers work a full time job and write. They sacrifice family time, sleep, and a lot of sanity to create worlds for people to enjoy. I’m fully aware other professions sacrifice things too, but the majority of writers cannot afford to only write. Most of them have to maintain that full time job, because books don’t make enough money.
With the rampant piracy out there, sites taken down frequently only cause new ones to pop up… well — it’s enough to make you want to quit. It’s enough to eat at you and make you question why you do this, and why your brain won’t let you NOT do it.
This is when we have to dig deep. We have to remember why we write. We have to keep our passion and carry on. Writing is beautiful, writing is passionate, and writers deserve to make a living.
So, I don’t care about this sense of entitlement. Music should be free, let’s just download a movie, song, or book. The creators don’t need the money.
Because that’s a bold faced lie.
Creators need to eat.
Creators need to sleep.
Creators deserve respect.
So if you ever find yourself asking “I really want to read this but I can’t afford it, should I just download it for free from this (sketchy looking) site?”
Then ask yourself this: Is the site a library?
If the answer to this is no: Then go to the bloody library site, or physically to the building, and borrow the book. Put your name down to borrow it. Libraries buy these books legitimately.
The only time it’s okay to get a book for free is if it’s being sold for $0.00 on a reputable site like (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo etc). That means the author has put deliberately put it out there for free.
OR From a library.
Do the right thing. Don’t pirate creative content.
Preserve an artist’s sanity.