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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Being A Writer In A World Of Free

Boy Meets Girl Meets Boy Meets World: Waiting for Topanga's Bra to Fall
Speculating among the stars- none too happy about what I see...

I've been an author for, oh, going on 11 years now... I've never seen anything strike me so hard in my gut as what I found out yesterday.

Let me explain, Yesterday I was alerted to a call to arms by a colleague of mine, fellow author, and social media guru Kristen Lamb in her post: A Culture Addicted to FREE—How FREE is Poisoning the Internet & Killing the Creatives.

Apparently a performer, Revolva, was approached by Oprah's team to perform at an event that they are charging up to $999 dollars per ticket. The kicker... Oprah's team wanted this performer to do her work- FOR FREE. Kristen has checked back in with this performer and although Revolva's post has received thousands of hits, nothing was ever said by Oprah's team. Wil Wheaton, a well known actor, was also approached by Huffington post who asked to repost his blog post on their site for free as well! Will commented on twitter: "If you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period."

 I'd like to point out that it is not only hurting creatives but also the economy at large!


Think about it. Bookstores (who were once willing to host book signings) are now few and far between. So, in order to reach you, my audience, in person I must pay for my exposure. A lot goes in to being an author.

See that price on the back of the book, preferably above the bar code? If you are buying direct from the author- TWO THIRDS of that cost is money that pays for the printing and shipping of the book, as well as paying the illustrators and the editors! The other third (if the author is lucky) is profit. When you buy the book elsewhere a store like Amazon or Barnes and Noble- that third gets cut into a further half (IF the author is lucky).

By the time an author buys bookmarks or business cards and a table space from which to sell their books. That money is gone. Add in the gas and the hotel to come to the event, the author is now in the red.

BUT in this case at least the author is selling some books.

So they CAN make some of their money back.

 Not only that but the author's money is being funneled back into the economy through the event staff who will likely spend it elsewhere too. The author pays the hotel and the eateries so that helps the economy too.

PLUS If the author has been lucky enough to pay for all of this and STILL have money when they get home? Well then the economy benefits even more- someone's tuition gets paid, the light bill gets paid... Or... the author makes enough money to contribute a few bucks toward the jar saving up to get their roof fixed. (Exposure makes the whole family sick when it is 25 degrees outside and raining!) And now the economy thanks you because a general contractor can be paid too!


This is not always the case at events where you see creatives though. 

Free entertainment in trade for 'exposure' has become an epidemic!


Lately it has become commonplace for events to "hire" creatives to speak or perform at their events on the premise of exposure.  I didn't know this till recently but many of these large Sci Fi conventions do this. Consider many of the panels where you get to spend an hour listening to a creative talk about their job and answering your questions, unless the creative has a table where they are selling their stuff, that creative is there working for FREE with very little chance of making even their lunch money back for the day.

By the way, I don't see them charging an extra fee for those who want to participate in the gaming rooms- which is also entertainment!

Which leaves the author inevitably saying:
Indien: Mumbai
"Sure! I'll work for free! I'll just sell my wares out of my purse for the rest of the weekend."
Because THAT looks completely professional right?

Consider this... If I manage to make $4 in profit off of a book...when you already assume $200 in expenses for the cheapest hotel, gas, and food- I'd have to sell 50 copies in a weekend to break even! This is equivalent to spotting a rainbow- it doesn't happen every day! I've already had to turn down a few myself!

 Not all events treat artists like traveling salesmen either. I've been to some events that have just a small table fee for authors/illustrators who each get a 3 foot space. In return they request that you (the creative) speak at their panels which are pulled together for the benefit of their guests. Sure, you are working but you are also being treated as a professional and given the opportunity to make some money.

Consider what happens if your authors and artists realize they can't afford to show up to your event? Then your event will have dwindling amounts of entertainment, in which case your audience will slowly start to dwindle. What happens then? You will slowly die off... which in turn, further hurts the economy! 

On the flip side of that...


 I have also come across libraries holding book expos that PAY their author speakers. Why? Because you are doing that library and that event a service. You are providing their audience for a REASON to show up and hopefully spend money which in turn supports their event and the economy. KUDOS to you Birmingham Author Expo!

 Even if it is something small... 7$ an hour even! It is something!

HECK I can get paid minimum wage to sort through lose electronics wires and bits at my local Technical College under their work study program!

I submit that taking hours putting words to paper, having them professionally edited and illustrated, and then talking to an audience and allowing them to pick my brain for hours is much more emotionally and physically taxing then sorting electrical bits.

If someone small like a library event can afford to pay their speakers something than YOU CAN TOO (here's looking at you- international scifi conventions! )

The Solution:


Time= money... and all I'm saying is (for our bills sake), We creatives would love to be able to earn even just a little for the time we spend being entertaining!

Those of you who are sending your work out there for free (here's looking at you- amazon authors) all you are doing is shooting yourself in the foot and teaching MORE people that your work is worth so little that every creative SHOULD give their work away for free.

Authors:

-Perhaps offer up a 'sampling', a free chapter or two from the middle of your book to those who sign up for your news letter? (Putting my actions where my mouth is... once I pull the file together I'll be offering this shortly! Stay tuned!)

-Please stop offering to trade your books with others- it doesn't look very professional unless the other person is already a good friend of yours. PLUS- every book that is given away for free eats into the funds required to buy the next shipment of books!

Conventions, events, trade shows..

-Please pause and consider how much your vendor would need to sell in order to make it worth their while - AS WELL AS what you need to be able to afford the space fee, before you set your table fees. (I'm not completely heartless, I know you need money to be able to run the show next year!

-Perhaps consider us paying you a percentage of sales instead?

Consumers- We are consumers too. We know how wary you are to pay top dollar for a performance by an unknown artists, or for a book by an unknown author. But before you give in to the disease that has become the dime store/ free epidemic... please consider asking any of us if we have a small sample that you could try for free before buying. We would be honored that you even asked!


With that in mind... sign up for my newsletter if you'd like a free sample of The Alien Mind! 


Or:

"If you enjoyed my writing, but can't buy a book, would you care to buy me a cup of coffee?"

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*Photo credit 1: Boy Meets Girl Meets Boy Meets World: Waiting for Topanga's Bra to Fall via photopin (license)

*Photo credit 2: Indien: Mumbai via photopin (license)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2/9/16 Superbowl Discussion- Chat Transcript

 Today my friend Michael and I hung out in the chat room sharing our thoughts on Superbowl 50, mostly about the performances and the commercials.

*Which was your favorite commercial?


*Who would be interested in me continuing to run these chats in the evenings on Tuesday? Or do you prefer afternoon? 

Let me know in the comments!




   
(Admin)
Hey guys! Anyone out there tonight?  
an hour ago
hey hey hey
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Hey! Welcome Back  Hows things been?
an hour ago
:-P Pretty good. how about you?
how's class?
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Doing pretty good. My Active Circuits class is a bit intimidating but I made an 85% on my first section test which was 45 questions long so hopefully things will hold steady! My Programmable Controllers class and Circuits 2 class is a LOT of fun. Math 110 -.- we are on speaking terms but it knows it is annoying me lol
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
studying imaginary numbers this week... -.-
Did you watch the super bowl?
an hour ago
lol
unfortunately, yes
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
awww! lol I wasn't really rooting for a particular team.
I was too busy doing MATH 
But I was a bit disappointed by the commercials and I thought they would have done something BIGGER and BADDER for the half time considering this was their 50th...
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Which was your favorite commercial?
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
I laughed at the Doritos baby one... and LOVED the superbowl babies one.
an hour ago
Yeah, that one was good
I liked the Jeep The things i've seen commercial.
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
I couldn't believe how up in arms people got about the Doritos Baby one *smh*
Which one was the jeep one? one sec I'll go see if youtube has it...
an hour ago
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Ha! No fair! Your internet must be faster than mine lol
an hour ago
lol i knew what i was looking for 
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Oh I don't remember seeing that one! (must have been while I was lost in some math problem) That one WAS a good one!!!
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Did you have company over?
an hour ago
nope, just me and the wife. she didn't watch much
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Try getting her into fantasy football next year. My husband isn't into football much either (and neither am I) but he says he enjoys superbowl more now that he plays fantasy football with his friends... he's sorta forced to witness the teams struggles all season long
They even have games for money...
Did your wife have a favorite commercial?
an hour ago
This is the first year in 5 that I haven't done fantasy football. We just do it through Yahoo
She liked the heinz with the wiener dogs
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Yeah my husband prefers the yahoo one too! He is the commish for the one they do at his workplace (how he got wrangled into that I'll never figure out)
They tried the ESPN one one year and it was a flop lol
The heinz wiener dog one was a hoot... AFTER I sat there wondering "WHAT THE FLIP?"
lol
an hour ago
LOL
I haven't tried the ESPN one. I played with the same group every year so we just stick with Yahoo
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
(you aren't missing anything... more confusion perhaps?) Speaking of "What the flip" Who was that artist that was first up during half time? And WHAT was up with all the rainbow flowers?
I was left wondering if I missed the symbolism somewhere...
an hour ago
Coldplay?
yeah, me too...
an hour ago
   
(Admin)
Was that Coldplay? Dang... they could have picked a more up beat song!
44 minutes ago
lol yeah, we were trying to figure out the selection. it sounded horrible here
44 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
What song was he singing?
43 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Blah... just checked out the rest of his songs on youtube... besides Viva la Vida most of his songs are rather slow paced... not very ROCKING PARTY ish.... which is what I was looking forward to at half time... Bruno stepped in and saved the day lol
40 minutes ago
I don't remember what song it was.
38 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
WOW.... thats when you KNOW the selection was bad! OUCH!
37 minutes ago
Yeah, I remember Bruno played Uptown Funk. Couldn't tell you what Beyonce sang
36 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
This would have been a better pick Coldplay! 
36 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Uptown Funk was awesome lol... Beyonce was a bit confusing to me. I sat there through her entire performance marveling over how her lower back wasn't in extreme pain from that "twerking" she was doing... that takes some serious ab and lower back muscles! To practice it enough to be completely insync with her crew... Oh gosh that would KILL me!
34 minutes ago
LOL yeah, I'd be dead too
34 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
The dance moves for Bruno and Beyonce's team were very very well in sync! That was awesome to watch... like the pros they are... left Coldplay out in the cold a bit I thought... his costumes didn't even work with theirs???!!!
Was there no pow wow ahead of time? (you know they had to do dress rehearsals in the stadium!)
33 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
On that note... Lady Gaga... ROCKED the Star Spangled banner I thought!!! VERY WELL DONE and VERY classy! I thought FOR SURE it was going to be a spectacle but no... Bravo!
31 minutes ago
Nope! Someone said "Didn't Coldplay get the memo? we wear patent leather on Sunday!" 
30 minutes ago
Yeah Gaga surprised me in a good way.
28 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
ROFLMAO! Apparently he didn't get the memo or else was trying to "Stick it to da man" by raising his rainbow flowers to their black outfits?
Did you see the meme comparing her to Effie Trinket from Hunger Games though? I laughed so hard at that one!
27 minutes ago
I don't think so
27 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
That one was hilarious... wonder if I can find it...
26 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
One said... "The hunger games wants their clothes back lololol"
21 minutes ago
LOL
20 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
I actually liked her suit... I'd prefer it to some of the crazy outfits she has worn in the past- I thought it was VERY classy of her to tone it down just a smidge - out of respect 
19 minutes ago
I still need to see the last 2 hunger games movies.
19 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
DUDE!!! FIX THAT!
19 minutes ago
yeah, when I saw her outfit, i was a little relieved
18 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
I won't spoil it.... um... lots of people die...
18 minutes ago
I've read the books
18 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Oh good! The books were better  Actually... the movies are better if you've already read the books!
I couldn't put them down...
17 minutes ago
most movies enhance the books
except for harry potter. those movies went in their own direction
15 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
The Harry Potter movies...... exactly! I was just about to type that!
lol
14 minutes ago
lol
14 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
I made sure NOT to re-read the books before the movies came out each time!
14 minutes ago
I've read them so many times. I even bought the UK box set 
13 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
One time I did... I think it was for the second or third one.... Oh it was the one with the quiditch match I believe -.O was that the one where Harry sees Ron's house for the first time? I wanted to see them throw the garden gnomes! lol
I was SO mad that the movies didn't stick to the book... For the rest I waited to re-read till after the movie came out and felt much better about them lol.
I want to get a copy with full color interior illustrations!
11 minutes ago
Ohhh that would be fun
I want to go to Universal to the Wizarding World.
10 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Oh man! Me too! I'm just looking for an excuse to drive all the way down there  We are trying to wait till our youngest is a few years older and then make it a double trip... Universal and Disney all in one go.
9 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
I'm glad you stopped by Michael! It would have been awkward hanging in here all by myself lol! Hopefully more people will show up next time.
I may need to do some better promoting...
6 minutes ago
We went a about 10 years ago, the week after Thanksgiving. Did everything and a day at Canaveral
lol it was fun. hit me up on facebook any time you want to chat
6 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Oh Canaveral is AWESOME!!!
I went there for a week for space camp when I was a teen!
6 minutes ago
awesome, i never got to do that
5 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
My parents had to call and ask them to make a special exception for me since I was a year or two too old for their program but it was an awesome blast! Got to ride in their G force simulator. Will never forget that trip!
4 minutes ago
Talk to you soon!
3 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
Facebook chats... they are great one on one... I've been missing having live group conversations though. Illogicon reminded me of what I have been missing from facebook. The instant conversation... which is why I am trying to get this going 
3 minutes ago
   
(Admin)
That and school has been cutting into my free time so I can't hang on facebook as much as I used to... I start feeling like a nerd locked in the closet with my calculator -.- lol
Later Michael!