(Note: If you’re here for Wacky Wednesday free fiction, it’s in abeyance for a few weeks–it’s temporarily superseded by the goofy giveaway I started last Friday.)
A few people, by which I mean four people, have–hmm. How do I put this? They’ve expressed concern that I’m doing great evil to myself, to writers in general, and maybe indirectly to the market share of civilized discourse versus…other stuff…on the internet.
Okay, that last part was all me. Not all these folks were polite. Though two of them were.
As a practical matter, let me say this: my books were all published several months ago. One of them sold pretty well for a while, but sales for all of them have been “lagging” (other words could be used here) lately. I figure that’s a normal thing, and the best cure is a new release–which I’m working on. Or I was working on it a few minutes ago, and I’ll get back to it. Meanwhile, I thought of a fun way to try to attract new readers and start up conversations. I’ve made some new internet-friends in the process. There’s no obvious downside here.
Am I devaluing the writing of fiction? If so, how cool is it to have that superpower? Awesome! But slightly more seriously: there are lifetimes’ worth of free reading available on the net already. There is no way for any of us to change that. What I’m doing has encouraged a few more readers to try my stuff. Possibly instead of someone else’s, but more likely it’s in addition to whatever they were going to read anyway.
On top of that, I think the notion of idea-ownership is likely flawed from a moral standpoint to begin with. I feel strongly that content creators (storytellers and other artists) deserve to be paid exactly as much as their readers/audiences/viewers/consumers feel is appropriate. Goodwill is key, in the long term. I’ve read some new-to-me authors because their works were free. Later on, I paid them for other stuff. I’ve done this when I’ve wanted to, not through coercion. If I can inspire that sort of feeling and action? Good. If not? I’ll need to work harder.
I’ve written before that I feel people who buy digital works actually own them. And I’ll point out that even under existing laws, digital distributors/resellers don’t own the copyrights to the stuff they claim to “license” either. So all the stuff that Amazon, B&N, or whoever tells you about how you can and can’t use what you buy? About how you can’t share it with a friend unless you go through them? It ain’t actually their call. With my stuff? That’s up to me. I say: share it however you like. If you want to post it to “pirate” sites? Go for it; I’d do it myself if I felt I could spare the time.
That most certainly includes fan fiction, by the way. I don’t think anybody out there’s been inspired to write new stories set in a universe I’ve created. But if you want to give it a shot? Feel free, folks. Send me a link and I’ll probably read it. If I like it, I may tell people about it. If you later want to publish it somewhere you’ll get paid? More power to you, and you owe me nothing. (This is fairly meaningless at the moment–but I plan to keep writing for quite a while, and it may matter someday.)
Only, for chrissake, don’t submit ANY of your fanfic to Kindle Worlds (no link) even if they graciously allow it. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has debunked the notion that Kindle Worlds is about fanfic to begin with. And Barry Eisler, whom I admire (okay I’m more of a fanboy there) and whose John Rain character/world are included in this Amazon scheme, just posted a Q&A on the topic.
To be clear: Eisler is not expressing criticism of the program. I am, though. If you read the Q&A carefully, you’ll notice terms like “exclusive” and “for the term of copyright” (currently your lifetime plus 70 years) are in evidence. If that doesn’t make you want to scream and run for the hills, you may want to buy and read a copy of The Copyright Handbook. It’s scary stuff.
Anyway. I figured I could write this and point people to it, thus saving time in the future. If you now hate me, well, have at it. Meanwhile I’ve got more work to do.
Have fun out there.