Yesterday Brandon put up a post to explain his absence. I’m behind it; if you ever want to get paid for your writing, unless you’re a freakishly well-known author, you can’t publish that same material on a blog. No company will look at your stuff. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but these are the rare cases. These are the blogs that rake in the tens of thousands of views per post, if not more. Brandon wants to concentrate on material that he might possibly be paid for. Good! I’ve kept back some stories from the blog for the same reason. I’m going to keep publishing here as much as possible, but I’m more after writing for writing’s sake. Our purposes are different.
Which gets me to the thing I disagree with. Brandon’s a huge Jack Vance fan (and what red-blooded he-man isn’t?). He posted:
To quote something I once heard Jack Vance say, “If a story is worth reading, it’s worth getting paid for.”
I have to disagree with this strongly. Now, to be clear, what I’m not saying:
- If an author asks for money and you’re not willing to pay it, you shouldn’t get to read the story. Stories are commodities and the seller sets the price. To read a story without the permission of the author is to steal.
- An author has a right to ask for payment for his stories.
- If you like a certain author, support them! That may be in money. If someone sent me a donation because they liked a story here, I wouldn’t fight. There are other types of support, and as long as you’re not stealing the story, these kinds of support can be greatly appreciated. For instance, I would love more comments on the fiction here. That’s a great show of support I appreciate!
What I am saying:
- A story worth reading is not always worth monetary payment. For instance, if I make up a story to tell my children, I hope the story is worth reading for them. I don’t expect any payment other than a “thank you. The greatest payment I could get would be my children asking to read the story with me over and over again.
- There are many, many great stories available for free. The authors are long dead and gone and their creations have become public domain. Hopefully they received their payments in full while they were alive; however, it’s not my responsibility to pay for them. (Project Gutenberg, anyone?)
- There are other stories that are free that are worthwhile. For instance, many of my favorite webcomics are free. (I’ll point you to Powernap, a great sci-fi story that’s just really getting going.) Sometimes these artists are paid monetarily. Often they are not.
- Those great guys at Ray Gun Revival, assuming they haven’t changed their business model, aren’t paid to put up their stories. I got paid for my fiction there, but the owners of the site were completely self-funded. They didn’t run ads! (I see that this has since changed. Alas, the ad-free days are gone!)
- How about all the good writing that gets done in creative writing classes? Sure, a lot of it is dreck. A lot of it is decent, and some of it just plain sings. Just because it’s done in a class, does that mean it’s not worth reading?
I guess I may be railing at something that’s an assumption. I look at that quote from Vance, and I see him saying: “If you don’t get a check, your writing isn’t worth reading.” And I disagree with that; I’ve now listed a plethora of authors that didn’t get paid for their work (at the very least initially). Looking at the quote that way seems very jaded to me.
Basing the worthiness of a story on whether or not the author got paid? I guess there’s no worthy starving artist in Vance’s view. That’s not only frustrating to me; it’s insulting. I’ve been paid for my work a few times, and I can honestly say that the stories that were bought were of lower quality than ones that got rejected. If Vance is right, I’m viewing my stories wrong.
All right, I’ve ranted enough. Brandon, I’d love a rebuttal from you — and from anyone else! Am I going way too far with this? Am I shoving a tempest into a molehill? Turning a teapot into a mountain? Let me know!