Well, I woke up today thinking it would just be another ho-hum day in Mudville... when I clicked on an email from an editor I really respect and discovered that Writer's Digest was offering my book HOOKED for free! (It wasn't a WD editor who notified me.)
Now, I know how Anthony Neil Smith (Doc Noir) felt in his blogpost: http://anthonyneilsmith.typepad.com/hermansgreasyspoon/2011/11/theyre-giving-away-my-book-for-free-the-bastards.html
My sentiments, exactly... Although, I have a sneaking suspicion Mr. Smith's publisher let him know what they were going to do before they did it. And, they only did it for a day... And, I'll bet he gave his okay.
What bothered me is that WD didn't see fit to let me know that they were doing this. Did I say "bothered me?" I guess that's the most accurate terminology to describe my initial reaction where I kicked my cat, threw a book through the window, cursed at the top of my lungs, and some other similar actions...
The thing is, I don't believe in ever giving away my work for free. Perhaps WD knows that and is why they didn't inform me.
I know there are writers out there who profess their desire is only to "get people to read them." Well, that ain't my desire at all, unless they pay for the hours and days and weeks and months and years it took to get that book written. I rarely see plumbers giving away free work to "get people to notice them." Figure my work is just as valuable...
I understand the impetus behind this "freebie" thing. That it create a fan base who will then buy other work. I guess. I'm just not a believer in this strategy.
Maybe it will turn out just fine. Just went to the Amazon site and saw Hooked's rank:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
- #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Reference > Writing > Fiction
- Now, I'm not as mad as I was... I don't know what to think. Maybe they know what they're doing. The other thing that bothered me was that it was done as a promo for NaNoWrit or whatever they call it. That's an event I'm solidly... against. In fact, I tell my students I recommend they avoid participating, as in my opinion it only leads to bad writing habits. But, that's me. I do have many friends who participate in it and if they enjoy the experience, I'm glad for them. I just think it doesn't lead to many positive things for a serious writer. And, since I think it's more of a negative thing for a writer who wants to create good writing habits, I kind of resent my book is being given away free to promote it.I realize my thoughts here may alienate some folks. That's okay. If a writer doesn't have an opinion and is unwilling to express it, what kind of writer is that? One who would do well working for Pravda, I guess... Not this boy-o.
I have nothing whatsoever against anyone who takes advantage of Writer's Digest largess... I'd do the same thing. In fact, I emailed some friends to alert them that they could get it for free and even Twittered about it. If you can't fight 'em, join 'em... At least if folks can get a free copy, I'd rather it be people I know and like.
I think what bothered me the most was that WD couldn't even be bothered to let me know what they were going to do. The author isn't important in these things, I guess. It occurs to me that this may be one of the contributing factors to the demise of print publishers... how they view their authors and how they value their input and opinion, especially of their own work.
Now, I'm going to lie down and try to practice my own philosophy of "not letting others rent space in my head."
I just wish I had the power to give away all of Writer's Digest books for the next year... And not let them know until it was a done deal... Tell 'em if they didn't like it, too bad--it's in the contract...
Sign me:One-pissed-off-writerLesP.S. What gripes me is that Hooked was still on a number of Amazon's best-selling lists, mostly in the UK and other European lists...