Ideas are the same way. The wheel started somewhere, right? And we certainly don’t have stone ones anymore, do we?
More recently, the digital age has forced our media industries to go through some major changes themselves. These changes came on rapidly, a clear reflection of how fast technology speeds through our lives.
Twenty years ago, the music industry had to re-think how it operated. Free downloads (remember Napster?) popped up and the record companies and artists all thought the Apocalypse was upon them. “Music is over!” they cried. “No one will ever buy another album again if this keeps up!”
They had to change and change fast.
On the heels of that came the DVD revolution. We had the introduction of NetFlix and Hulu. The writers’ strike didn’t help matters either when everyone turned to other faster ways of feeding their entertainment needs. The box offices wailed “No one will ever go to a movie theater again! What will we do?”
Well, the music didn’t die and home theater never replaced the experience of going to a large movie theater.
Now we have the publishing industry going through the same thing as its media brethren.
Similar to the music and film industries, traditional publishers are in a tizzy, scrambling to hold on to what they had.
Problem is, what they had wasn’t always in the best interest of the authors. The authors are wise to this, and the publishers know it. With the advent of programs that make self-publishing easy, more and more authors are finding they don’t need that middle-man anymore.
Authors everywhere are taking back the rights to their work, and new authors aren’t giving them away at all. Anyone can publish a book.
This new breed of authors are in a unique position, one in which they can shape the outcome of their own change.
So many new authors are eager for their books to get into as many hands as possible. To do this, they often give their work away for free. What they don’t realize is they’re training the public to accept free or .99 as the norm for a book, no matter what the format.
Do we really want this? What about all the hard work, time and money serious authors sink into their books for a quality read? Do you really want to spend a couple thousand dollars to do it right and have prices like that to look forward to?
Keep perpetuating the freebie and that’s exactly what will happen. Making a book just won’t be worth the effort.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for reduced prices or freebies. For example, if you’ve already written a good amount of a series, there’s nothing wrong with offering the first book in the series for a lower cost or free for a limited time to get people hooked.
The problem comes when new authors start offering their books for free out of desperation. They want to be recognized, they want to be Number One on a list…but what does Number One on the free list really mean if an unedited and amateurishly designed book is at the top of the list?
Not only are the new authors devaluing themselves, they’re devaluing the whole industry and Independent Author movement.
If you really want to shape change and build a strong foundation for the future of every writer to come, consider what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Don’t cut corners, make that book the best it possibly can be. Write as many drafts as it takes to get it right. Find an editor, find a designer. This isn’t a race or competition to see who can crank out the most books in a year…or month…or week. We are the ones on the ground floor setting the standards for everything to come.
Be proud of your craft and the long lineage of writers you follow in your genre. Most of all, take pride in yourself. After all, in the end, it’s your name on the cover.