There is no doubt that in this technological age we are living in, with the way the information is flowing freely everywhere, that the death of the printed word is coming. Whether in our lifetime or our children, someday everything will be digital. That isn’t to say that books will completely disappear. Well, perhaps someday in the far off future, but not the near future.
The question we all must face is, what do we writers do about it? As writing is made more freely available to the general public for free download some believe it becomes harder and harder for a writer to make money off the craft we so love. It isn’t about writing for the love of writing verses writing for money. It’s about being able to have an income to support us while we endeavor to do more writing. Would a Chemist with a love for chemistry work for free?
Writing books is not a simple task. It takes loads of time, patience, and skill. Even writing a good short story isn’t something that can be done overnight. In order to have the time we need to write the works that readers love to read, we need to have some sort of income to give us some freedom to do so.
So, as more people give their work away for free it makes it harder for the true beauty of the craft to come out and expose itself to the world. If you doubt this, think of it this way. When you go to the store to buy ice cream and are confronted with banks of a variety of flavors, brands, and low-fat/sugar-free/reduce calorie options what do you do? If you are anything like me you stand in front of each door, look at each one, think about what you want, get overwhelmed, and then end up choosing whatever one is on sale. It’s overwhelming, and when writers give their work away for free it’s like turning our new “brand” into a shelf-filler. Does this turn serious writers into hobbyists?
How can we make sure that the internet doesn’t kill the craft?
How can we keep the old-fashioned tradition of book-in-hand alive?
How can we compromise a happy medium between the internet and the printed word?
The answer isn’t as simple as most would like to think. It also isn’t as difficult as we pretend it is either. Adapting to the changes in technology is the key to becoming a successful writer. The use of instant media can be a cash cow for a writer worthy of publication. And publication no longer has to be done by traditional or small press publishers either. Technology allows us to do it ourselves, from start to finish. Our middle ground will come from multi-platform sales. A clever, successful writer will publish the book in print, in audio, and in eBook. Secret for any writers out there that don’t know it, but eBooks turn a higher royalty profit than the other two platforms.
I firmly believe that there will always be books in hand because there will always be people like me, and perhaps you as well, to hold them. There is nothing like the smell of a book.
Before giving your work away for free, ask yourself if you are really a serious writer. If you want to be recognized, giving your product away for free may catch a few eyes, but selling it gains you more respect and credibility in the long run.