Sunday, October 27, 2013

Should self-publishers worry about bean counters?

If you self-publish a book or video, and don’t take other people’s money to produce it, is there any moral principle that says the work should still pay its own freight?
I wonder, because I do get sudden calls from my “on demand” publisher about whether I have any plans to purchase marketing services.  My two books are old, and non-fiction old books don’t usually sell. 
But they are valuable, being out there, both online and for occasional Kindle or hardcopy purchase, as reference.  They say certain things that just need to be said.  And available.  That is important to me. In the grand scheme of things, books and blog postings, and maybe some music, and be combined later and lead to bigger things that do sell.  Like movies.  That’s all strategic planning, something you can’t see in the tactics of bean counters. 

Referential use lends itself to online searches and research, rather than cover-to-cover reading, even on a Kindle or Nook.  There is indeed a narrative story -- mine -- with its own ironies, which have tended to accumulate since I last published a book (2002)/  
There is an existential question, though.  You don’t earn “the privilege of being listened to” until you accomplish something else, competitively speaking.  Or maybe in some humanitarian context. 
I have a hard time finding any cause to push, to believe in, except “my own”.  I like to publish knowledge, to connect the dots for all comers, for anyone interested.  But I can’t fix anyone’s life in a personal way.  I can’t go out and compete and prove I can get elected and “take care of you.”  And I certainly don’t need anyone to “give me the words” to sell people things. 
I realize people need to make a living, calling me to sell things.  And my own life just doesn’t work that way.  All my personal contacts are carefully thought out, and I can’t discuss them with random caller sin advance.  

Update: Oct. 28, 2013

Tim Lee of the Washington Post pointed out this op-ed in the New York Times by Tim Kreider Sunday, "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!", link here.  Kreider sometimes takes being asked to contribute a complementary piece to a publication as an insult, and toward the end of the piece, insinuates that writers who give away content for free make it harder for other writers to make a living at it.  I think a lot of cultural tension is building up over this. I was even asked by someone who knows me well in early 2008 why I was competing with his site for "free" attention.

Lee tweeted that getting large exposure to readers is itself a privilege, and money is just an extra reward when appropriate (when people want to pay).  

I have a feeling that Kreider has yet to watch "Reid Rainbow" scream "It's free" (or "I'm free") on his satirical videos, already reviewed on my Movies Blog May 13, 2013.  

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