But there are other authors for whom being read is more important than earning money, and they make all their content (it's always called 'content', I don't know why) permanently free. They just want their words to be out there, and available to as many people as possible - and that's fine.
But. Because some authors are permanently free, there is a bit of a movement out there for all authors to make their work free. I can understand the reasoning, if some people can do it, why not all? Why not have all words available to everyone, with no filthy lucre involved - a kind of pure intellectual exchange?
And here's where it gets messy...
I live alone. In order to make more time for my writing, I have a job that isn't 9-5, pays just above minimum wage, but is flexible enough that I can go off and teach workshops or, as this week, spend three days solid sitting in my bed writing (I know, I know, but I'm on a deadline! I do emerge, every now and again to feed the animals or gnaw on a loaf of bread). Like just about every other person, I have bills to pay - rent, Council Tax, water, electricity etc. I live in the middle of nowhere, so I have to keep my car on the road with regular injections of road tax, insurance and diesel. I also quite like food.
So, should I give my words away free? I'd like to think that, if I were a billionaire I'd make my work available to all because I wouldn't need the income from it - the earnings from my writing are ESSENTIAL (and yes, I do mean ESSENTIAL, see all the bits about living alone and having to float an entire household worth of bills alone from a NMW job that isn't even full time), but I probably wouldn't. Do you know why?
Writing is hard work. It's sitting alone in a room (except for the spiders and crane flies, do not get me started on the spiders and crane flies saga), bashing away on a keyboard for so long that your fingers go all numb and your wrist does this thing where it clicks. It's turning down extra shifts at work because you're on a deadline and have to get something to your publisher so you don't lose your publication slot. It's wracking your brains for another way to say 'it's snowing', so your readers don't get bored; it's living off nothing but Lidl beans for a fortnight because the money ran out, and putting on more jumpers than humanly possible because you can't afford heating, but you'd rather be writing than anything else.
|Also, sometimes we fall off the roof of the kennel, and that makes us cross|
And if I gave away those resulting words, I would be devaluing all that effort. Not just my effort, but the efforts of all my fellow writers. Just as I wouldn't expect a decorator to come round and paint my entire living room for nothing just so I could see whether I liked the effect, I wouldn't expect a writer to produce an entire book so I could see whether or not I like their writing. Because, nearly in the immortal words of FAME - 'writing costs. And right here is where you start paying'.
|A writer's life is almost never anything like this.|
Believe me, it isn't just readers who pay for books. Writing the things isn't easy either (see above re no heating and there's also bum fat and lack of socialisation to take into account. You can always tell a writer at any gathering, they are the ones with wobbly buttocks and a tendency to burst in while other people are talking and try to lick their faces).
So. Free books, or sane and happy writers?
Tch, listen to me. Sane and happy people don't write books...