When I first heard about Seth Godin’s comment that essentially said that amateur writers don’t deserve to be paid, I was pissed. Who the hell is he to deem what is worth money and what is not? Seriously. I had a good long rant in my head about what an utter jackass Mr. Godin was. But then I started pondering the dreck I’d been reading lately and I thought, perhaps Mr. Godin has a point. It’s a small point, and probably not at all what he meant, but I do agree that a lot of books currently for sale should not cost a dime. Why? They’re not worth reading.
Then in the same article, I read film director Francis Ford Coppola’s two cents. He said, “As we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?”
I say we do, Mr. Coppola. So do the thousands of writers who spend hundreds of hours on a single manuscript. We do that because we love it, but we cannot live on love alone. Maybe you’re right, and you shouldn’t pay those writers to create the scripts that make you money as a director. Maybe they’ll do it for free because they love their art. But at some point, paying the bills and creating art will encounter a bit of a stalemate. We can’t indefinitely do both. Let’s face it; money makes a fine carrot to dangle as a motivator that encourages writers to produce quality work. Would you rather have writers who create only what pleases them, or something that is marketable for those who might profit from what they write? Without the money as our reward, we’re going to do write what pleases us, and believe me, that’s not always worth reading.
So, perhaps we could look at it a bit differently. If you deserve to get paid for your art, and filmmaking is also an “art,” then the writers (and other artists) deserved to get paid for ours. Maybe not at first, when we’re all green and suckish, but later, when we’ve proven we’ve got something worth reading, worth making into a movie perhaps, damn right we deserve to get paid.
I’d forgotten all about this little internal debate I’d had with my imaginary Godin and Coppola, until this morning, when I read an article about pirating e-books, and how one author asked, and received (sort of ) answers from his book’s would-be pirates.
My take on pirating e-books is the same as my take on pirating movies and music: it’s not okay. Does it make for great marketing? I’m not sure. But I’ll worry about that myself thanks. I don’t need you to take it upon yourself to steal my hard work and do it for me. If you want to get a free copy, there’s this place called a library. If you want to share it with your friends, buy a paperback. Better yet, why not just ask for a copy to review? Do you realize how many authors and publishers will happily provide you a review copy? What’s that? You don’t review books? Then what use are you for marketing? Absolutely none, that’s what. The bottom line is that most people who pirate e-books simply want free shit. It’s the way of the world. If we can get it free, and we all believe we should, then we’ll take it. Who cares about the hundreds of hours the author spent writing or the time spent editing and creating a cover and such? If it’s online it should be free, because everything on the Internet is free.
Well folks, it won’t be for long.