Another Very Important Link, this time for writers. Charlie Stross has taken the time to explain why authors should give their work away for free online.
Say what? you think.
My theory is this: reading online sucks, but those of us who are readers do it anyway, up to the point at which it gets too painful to continue.
He’s nailed it. I don’t know about you, but I spend all day sitting in front of a computer. Seriously. If I’m not in the car, in the shower, or obtaining food, there’s probably a keyboard within arm’s reach. It’s so much easier to look something up online than to go to a bookstore or library—and once I’ve found a book that looks interesting, what could be more natural than to want to read the first few pages?
Here’s where I run into problems.
Scenario 1: The author, not knowing any better, has not posted any excerpts online. I tend to forget about these authors by the time I get to the store. If the book sounded very interesting, or if it came strongly recommended by someone I trust, I might dump it into my Amazon wish list, where it will languish until I eventually delete it because I can’t remember why I wanted that book in the first place. No sale.
Scenario 2: The author (or the clueful publisher) has posted the first chapter. I read it, am intrigued, but am pulled up short when I reach the end of the available text. The first chapter was nice, but unsatisfying; I can’t tell yet whether I’m going to like this story or not. I dump the book onto my wish list. See Scenario 1. Sale not out of the question—I have, after all, read enough that I can probably recall the book’s title or author—but still not that likely at this point.
Scenario 3: The clueful author or publisher has posted the entire book online. I scan the first few pages, am intrigued. I download it. At lunch while I’m eating a sandwich in my office I open the file and start reading again. An hour and a half later my sandwich and my lunch break are long gone and my eyes are so tired of reading on the screen that I can’t focus properly on the boss tapping her foot in my doorway. I run to the bookstore after work, thus saving myself both a headache and my page-down key.
Post as much of your work online as your publisher will allow, and pester them to let you do more.
Authors who have no website at all should scurry to the corner store and purchase a clue at their earliest convenience.