The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal


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More about Webscabbery
bigbananaslug
bigbananaslug
One of the barflies, I think it was Pam Uphoff (who is Baen's slush editor), noted that the vast majority of the people who self-publish fiction on websites write dreck. Of course, this is Sturgeon's Law...but there's a difference between doing that, and the people Howard Hendrix aimed at-- members of SFWA and other professional writers who, he believes, are reducing his and others' ability to get bigger advances and bigger royalties by depressing the market for fiction by posting it for free.

Aside from the fact that Dr. Hendrix is horribly wrong, and Pam Uphoff is horribly right, it is my observation from the data that posting in the Free Library, and as other certifiably professional writers do, on their own websites, has a net positive effect on sales and royalties.

The ONLY data that exists is from the Free Library itself, where both David Drake and Misty Lackey (two polar opposites if ever there were) both have stated that their royalties went UP not down, after posting works to the Free Library.

Hendrix' post indicates that logically his next step would be to require all patrons of public libraries to pay a fee to read his works. This, of course, is inane.

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Hendrix' post indicates that logically his next step would be to require all patrons of public libraries to pay a fee to read his works. This, of course, is inane.


It may be inane, but several other authors have made the proposal over the last decade. Frankly, it's the logical end point of the notion that all artists should hold on to every scrap of intellectual property.

Of course, those who have benefited from this notion are not the original artists. The biggest beneficiary, at least in the US, is the Disney Company -- and they're the reason that nothing newer than "Steamboat Willie" has become public domain.

Most of my thoughts on Dr. Hendrix's screed are unprintable in a civilized forum. I will, thus, restrict my self to the printable ones.

First, Dr. Hendrix obviously has never heard of a free market. What he proposes is that, frankly, SFWA should be the gatekeeper of what is good and proper, and the rest of the peons should lump it.

Second, Dr. Hendrix seems to think that SFWA is the be-all of science fiction writing. The reality is, it is _a_ professional organization among many. It has done some good things over the years. It has also done some appallingly stupid things.

I _used_ to make a living writing software books. Just from that, I sold 13 titles, and ghost-wrote several more. I got out because _the market_ drove advances down, not up - many half-qualified "writers" decided to get into the game, and it basically became a vanity thing to get published. If you're after resume fodder, you'll take less of an advance. As a result, those of us who _lived_ on those royalties, couldn't.

If Dr. Hendrix wants to get more/bigger advances, perhaps he should write books that sell better.

You might be interested in

http://www.katyterrega.com/backissues/newslettervIII-10.html

and

http://www.katyterrega.com/backissues/newsletterviii-12.html

for a parallel debate regarding online sex fiction. The essays in question are mine in that first link, and C.B. Potts' in teh second.

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