THE AUTHOR ~ IT REALLY IS A JOB
You’re an author. You have a book or many books published. The royalties are making you proud. Yet, you receive requests from family and friends for a free copy of your latest book. Is this right?
The view people have of an author is a far cry from who we truly are. They don’t understand the calling of the author. To them, the author spends days on end wining and dining the movers and shakers. We are supposed to look as if we’ve never scrubbed out a toilet or stayed up all night with a crying baby, yet we do those things and many other daily chores that seem mundane. Around all that, we are busily plotting our latest adventure, crafting scenes that will turn the hardest heart soft, and also promoting our books both online and traditionally.
As a reader, most people will jump at the opportunity to get a free copy of a book. They’ll enter contests and volunteer to do a review in order to get closer to their favorite author. It becomes an obsession to have those books before they are available to the public. They don’t hesitate to ask outright for gratis, thinking the author is raking in all those lovely royalties. Why shouldn’t they share one measly copy of their book with their biggest fan.
Well, there is a good reason authors don’t give away their books. This is our job. It’s a for real job. Most of us, when the muse is hot, put in upwards of eighteen hour days plotting out our latest idea. We also have to squeeze in family needs and the necessities of life.
To put it another way…
Imagine you’re a plumber and you get a call in the middle of the night about a burst pipe. Do you go to the person’s house, having given up the luxury of your warm bed, and fix their problem, only to have the client say, “What a wonderful job. You can’t possible want me to pay. Do you? I mean, I can tell so many people about what a great person you are. You don’t need money from me.”
No sensible plumber would dare walk away from a job without payment. Most now ensure they’ll be paid by asking for a deposit prior to showing up.
What about the local grocery store? Do you dare enter there, fill your cart, and then ask them to bag the food so you can leave without paying the bill? The same goes for any other professional. No one would think of asking their doctor to treat them for free, or an accountant to prepare your taxes without recompense.
Why then do people want authors to hand out their hard work without paying for it?
Perhaps it’s because of the large number of new books available daily on any number of sales venues. Some of these are offered free for the e-book, as a way of generating interest in an author, but that doesn’t always get more sales. In fact, most authors have reported that their sales fell back to what they were before the promotion, once it’s over, and they haven’t earned a cent.
Remember this important bit of information. Your local author has a home to maintain much as you do. Most of us live very quiet, mundane lives. We send our children off to school every day. We prepare meals, or go to work and work hard for eight hours, only to immerse ourselves in our latest book after the children are in bed, the dishes are done, and the significant other is snoring in the next room.
Writing is a passion. What you are reading is the heart and soul of a person who poured out their story on a computer screen to share with the world. To us, this is far more than a job, it’s a passion we live and breathe. But we still need to pay our bills, like everyone else. For each book we give away, we have that much less to spend on our own families.