3 November 2017

Review Copies

Starfall's been out now for ~2 weeks and very rapidly I've found out that I don't want to give people the option of getting a copy free. Actually, that's not quite true, free as in beer I can handle as long as I know who wants a copy.

I worked a long time on Starfall, over a decade, in fact. Over the last two weeks "people" have stopped by my Smashwords page and chosen to "Pay What They Want" for a copy and none of them wanted to pay anything.

Here's what I think about those people who don't pay anything for the book. First, I suspect they're screen scrapers, procedural bots who hoover up anything that's not nailed down, digitally speaking. Second, I think that if they're not, they're worse.

I take free books when those books are marked "free". If I were to release a free book, and I have, I would say, this is free, enjoy it. Pay what you want, on the other hand, means "not nothing". Or at least it does to me. There are many albums on indie music site Bandcamp that are marked "Pay what you want". If an artist wants you not to pay for their music then they add **FREE DOWNLOAD** to the album title. Then you can take the music for free.

No doubt there are some people who take Pay What You Want music from Bandcamp for nothing. I am not one of those people. Even a nominal fee for the music is a way of saying that the work was worth something to you, the listener. Taking Pay What You Want stuff for a sum of zero just makes you look like a giant, unthinking content hoover.

I am not saying that those people - if they are people - who took my book for free are not going to read Starfall. What I am saying is that I don't believe they are. I find this to be like baking a bunch of delicious cookies and taking them out into the street to offer them to people. If the people believed that I was trying to poison them fine. But this is more like people are taking the cookies but they just snatch them on the way past, no eye contact, no greeting, no sense that they are aware that the human being that baked the cookie is standing, you know, right there at all.

Then, it's like those people throw those cookies away, after taking them, without even looking at them or smelling them or detecting that I threw a dash of vanilla in. Like the cookie was good enough to take but not good enough to eat afterward.

That's what I don't like. Take my book for free, or, at least for a like on my Facebook page and a message that says "Hi, I would like a free copy of your book because it looks interesting and I am happy to go on your mail list about future releases." If you want to not pay money for the book on that basis I am totally fine with that.

But I am not fine with you taking the book for literally nothing as if I am just a book writing machine that needs no more acknowledgement than a kettle. Sometimes I write things for a bit of fun, with a "take it or leave it" kind of attitude, then I will say, hey, just take a copy, that's fine. Starfall, in particular, is not one of those projects. I worked too damn hard on that book to have people not even say "Hi" when they have a copy gratis. So that is no longer an option.

If you don't want to engage with me but you want to read the book now the price is $4. A $0 copy is for people who are happy to like my facebook page and go on my mailing list.

Grump over. Have a nice day.

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