Conversations I Did Not Have This Weekend
Me: Hello Herr Scheiber, we’d like a firewood delivery before the winter sets in.
HS: Of course. Is Monday morning OK?
Me: Perfect. By the way, we won’t be paying this time. Have a nice day.
Me: Could I book a hair appointment on Friday?
Hairdresser: Cut and blow dry?
Me: Yeah and quid pro quo.
HD: Quid what?
Me: Look, you cut my hair for nada and I tell all my friends how fab you are.
Me: Two tickets for Blade Runner 2049, please.
Cinema Employee: Where would you like to sit?
Me: Up the back and for free.
Me: Well, I’m not sure if I’ll like it. But if I do, I’ll give it a great review. Oh and while I’m here, I’ll have the medium nachos with cheese sauce.
Conversations I Did Have This Weekend
Potential reader: Is your series available on iBooks?
Me: Sure, they’re available everywhere. Here’s the link.
PR: But these books aren’t free.
Website query: We’d like to read your book for our bookclub.
Me: Fantastic! Would you like me to send some bookclub questions?
WQ: That would be great! Could you also gift us 10 copies (e-books, not paperbacks, obviously!)
Casual acquaintance: My wife wants to read your books.
Me: OK, here’s a postcard which tells you where to buy them.
CA: You can’t just give her a copy?
You’ve all heard the Picasso quote – but if not, it’s at the end of this post.
I get slack-jawed in disbelief when people expect creatives to work for free – or more often – for the “exposure”.
I’ve done my time. University degree, years of teaching and learning, self-study and quite a few failures along the way.
Then a group of people (more on that next week) showed me how to improve and find a voice, a character and a style. I spent four years honing my first book, distilling all those years of craft and education it took to get to that stage.
So the next step is to give it away?
Before I published my first book, I promised myself two things: Never free, never exclusive. If I don’t value my work, why would anyone else?
Each of my e-books costs less than a cup of coffee. My paperbacks cost less than two birthday cards. Both will last a lot longer. I appreciate I’m also asking for your time and trust.
All of us readers approach a new book with anticipation and trepidation. You’re about to give me hours of your life – use them well
But if you value the hours of effort and skill that goes into keeping readers entertained, why would you expect all that for free?
Herewith the oft-quoted and possibly apocryphal Picasso anecdote:
Picasso is sketching at a park. A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. A few minutes later, he hands her the sketch. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him. “5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is outraged as it only took him five minutes. Picasso says: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”