Hey Cassie, I love your books so much and I was looking forward to the Bane Chronicles. I was under the impression when you first posted about them that they would be a series of free e-books, however when I looked at them on Amazon today they were $2.99. I can’t afford…
This post of Cassie’s makes me think of this comment on the idea of writing for free:
‘Writing is, after all, one of the few skills girls are encouraged to develop… It is, at the moment, a profession exactly respected enough to acknowledge a lot of women as professionals. And on some level I think that’s part of the failure to properly contextualize that it is WORK and people need to be PAID, not some frivolous habit that anyone could do, if they weren’t so busy with their SERIOUS REAL CONCERNS, GOD, JUST SHUT UP, WOMAN!’
I’m not saying that dudes don’t get asked to write for free too. Obviously they do, the arts are notoriously treated as not a real job: the journalist asked to write for free in the above link was a guy, and Cassie links to John Scalzi’s post on the subject of writing for free in her post.
I think it is interesting that they *are* both guys, and they both got a lot of good press for saying: my work is worth something. Because when a woman says that, people argue with her.
The majority of writers are women—but the majority of the best-paid writers are men. In Forbes’s most recent list of the highest paid authors, nine out of fifteen names are men. That’s not equality—that’s a long way off. People assume men write better stories and are more deserving of being paid for them.
I get many requests saying ‘I would like a free story about this.’ And it’s flattering to be asked, it really is. Every writer wants people to want more of their writing. But I do not have unlimited time, and I do have to pay the electric bill.
I once wrote a free short story to thank people for reading my second book and asked for people not to tell me if they hadn’t read my second book. ;) Because I dared to ask something for myself, I know of at least one person who stopped reading my books entirely. The attitude was not just ‘give me free stuff’ - that’s taken for granted - but ‘don’t act like you’re entitled to anything, not even feelings about your work.’
I remember an email exchange with one girl looking for more free stories by moi who responded to my suggestion she read my books with ’Rest assured, I have picked up copies of them several times, and looked speculatively at them, then looked at the Terry Pratchett novel in my other hand…’
(I’m in no way suggesting I am better than Terry Pratchett. I LOVE TERRY PRATCHETT.)
I’ve been told I should just be grateful for the attention of readers—that if I really loved writing I’d do it for free—and I have seen the same thing said to many other lady writers I admire. Lynn Flewelling’s one I remember especially, because I SUPER LOVE Lynn Flewelling, who wrote one of the very few gay-protagonist fantasy serieses around. (Luck in the Shadows. You’re welcome, internet. ;))
People react badly to women acting like their work is worth something… and they also react badly to the world acting like women’s work is worth something.
I’ve seen one successful lady novelist described as ‘more a businesswoman than an author’—I have *never* heard someone talk about James Patterson that way, and he’s the most business-focused writer I know of.
I believe nobody is obliged to buy anything I write: I believe nobody owes me a living.
But that doesn’t mean that I believe people have an absolute right to whatever of my work they decide they want, with no benefit to me.
It’s sad sometimes, because I like writing free things (I freely admit, as both presents and promotion) and I don’t want to believe people will just think that I *should* write them, and all I write should be free: that because I did something for free once, that’s all my work is worth for all of time. ;)
It’s a complicated issue, because I really am grateful that people read what I write, and I really do want people who can’t afford books to have access to books. I love libraries, and discovered some of my favourite writers through them as a kid.
It’s also tricky because I’m also really pleased and honoured to be a part of the Bane Chronicles, and I know a lot of people did buy mine and Cassie’s first story. (So many people! I LOVE YOU ALL.)
It’s tricky because writers don’t set price points. (If I could, I would totally like to give away or discount Unspoken for a little bit before Untold comes out… because I think it would be great promotion, because I think people would buy Untold after.) We don’t get to—publishers do. Which is fair enough, as publishers are paying for covers and distribution and so on: they have a lot more people to pay than just us. But writers get the flak for price points as well as covers, because, well, c’est la vie. It’s your name on the cover.
It’s tricky for all those, and many more, reasons.
But… yes. I can’t—and other women can’t—write all the things for free, and it is uncomfortable to see women’s work treated so often as being worth nothing.