I read this article lately, and it got me thinking about some of my recent decisions about my story sharing. I’m greatly summarizing this article, but basically, giving away free stories is bad for the indie industry overall and it devalues your own work. There’s actually a lot to unpack in the article, and I don’t disagree with all of it, and most of it just makes me think. But it did inspire me to write about what I’ve been doing lately, my free stories, and why I do it.
Over the past few years I began to focus inward on being better at writing with the purpose of publishing/selling. But I also wanted to always put forth stories out there for free. Not because I don’t value my time I put into these stories. No, a part of me looks at the reading landscape, the digital one, and I realize how wonderful it is that we can have stories so quick at our fingertips–in some cases cheaper than a paperback. It’s a different literary landscape than what existed when I was a kid.
But cheap is still money. And for a lot of people, cheap is still not good on the budget. That’s why while I work on stories for publishing/selling, I also work on other stories that I will give out for free. Or like the I Will Kill You for $5 project, one person pays me $5 to write it, but the end result is available for free and for all–so only one person pays for it.
I like to think of it as creating my own personal online library of my work that anyone can access and download the files for free. These are not public domain, you can’t remix or sell them, but you can read them as much as you like. And own as many copies as you like. And email a copy to your friend who you think will like it. They are DRM free.
I’ve also been trying to think of a way to make my next work that will cost money available for free to those who can’t afford it. I don’t know that I’ll want to just drop it in the online library, but I very much want to be accessible to lower-income and poor people as a writer. Because even the less fortunate deserve escapism–an argument could be made that they deserve it most.
I may write more on this, because there is still some stuff bouncing around in my brain after reading the article. But by no means do the words “an urgent warning” come to mind. 🙄