Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Ramblings -The Value Of Writers & Words

Forgive me for starting this post this way because I know I sound like an old woman speaking to her grandchildren, but . . .

Back when I was a child, getting a book as a gift was a treasure! If it was hard-covered, then it was even more wondrous for it meant you were growing up. Books used to have great value. They took me to places I could never go in real life. As a child my books took me around the world. I visited the Alps, the African jungles, the Great Pyramids, and journeyed to the bottom of the sea.

I remember having a book-stand in my room as a young girl. It made me proud to see my book collection grow over time. I was taught to respect a book, treat it well, never break the spine, and never ever bend over a page to mark your place. Always use a bookmark and never write on the pages. My elders passed on how important each book was, how hard someone had to work to write it, and how important each word was on each page.

What happened? When did the work of an author come to be a piddling thing, like an old gum wrapper one finds in their pocket? Over the past few years I have seen the public become less and less respectful of a novel and the hard work that goes into it. What really drove the point home for me was a comment by a reader in a Facebook group last week. This reader was lamenting the fact that she had to pay almost five dollars for a book.

"I just love books but I don`t get why all authors just can`t make their books free!"

Yes, why don`t all us authors just do that? Who needs to eat, pay bills or tuition, or clothe their children? While we're at it, let`s ask artists to stop charging for oil paintings. And musicians, they should stop being paid as well for their songs because writing a song is even less difficult than writing a hundred thousand word novel, correct? Maybe we can all just stop paying everyone for his or her hard work. Plumbers, contractors, doctors, dentists, and auto mechanics don`t need wages, right? You, the reader of this post, don`t need to be paid either. Just work for months on end but don`t collect any wages because what you do is that devalued.

Pardon me for sounding bitter, but it hurts more than I can say to have people - readers who claim to love books - saying such things. When did this reader stop valuing that which she says she adores? I have a few notions, and I suspect we authors may be part of the problem. It was we, the writers, who stopped asking a fair price for our work. We authors started handing out books for .99 or free, and now, several years later, we are seeing more and more readers refusing to pay over a dollar for a book despite word count. Did we cheapen our craft and ourselves by giving away something of great value for nothing? Each author must answer that question for themselves.

Let`s get back to the reader who was upset about paying for a book for I have a few things to say in regard to her comment. You have my apologies that we authors have to make a living but this old workhorse refuses to labor for nothing. I do not expect others to work free, so they should not expect it of me. Doing so shows a lack of respect and it shows that you consider the person less than deserving of a fair wage. I deserve a paycheck. I work hard to create my books and I know my work is good.

I know it has value. I know how many hours I spend at my laptop. I know how many hours of editing, revisions, and proof-readings that I do on top of my hours writing. I know how much time I spend on marketing, promotion, and attending events online and in-person. My time is valuable and my books have worth. I have worth and no one is going to tell me or make me feel otherwise. I am not going to allow my books to become gum wrappers. 

All I ask is that those jaded readers do the same. Show respect to authors and their creations and they will repay you with tales of wonder, romance, action, and adventure for years to come. Not a bad trade at all I should think. 


morgan said...

I totally agree. Who else thinks it is okay to work for free? Writers often work seven days a week and on holidays.

V.L. Locey said...

That they do, Morgan.

Cathy Brockman said...

I agree wholeheartedly. they do not realize how much work and money goes into a book.