Dita Parker

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To whom it may concern

[Promised myself I wouldn't dip my pen in this ink again, but the things I've been seeing and reading lately...damn.]

No one pays me to write. I write a story, submit the story, and if I get an offer for the story it's published. Or something happens on the way to heaven and it isn't. If and only if the story is published, I get a shot at making a part of my living writing.

My royalty check is equally proportional to how my book does. So it is with many authors. Every cent I don't make writing is a cent I go in search of somewhere else. Not that bad a deal when you like what you do. Not that sweet a deal when you dream of writing for a living, when the less you make writing the less you write and do something else instead.

The myth of the starving artist is a myth about artists starving. Bills to pay, mouths to feed, just like everybody else. I've gone without sustenance while writing. Because I forgot. Lost myself in it and simply forgot. That hunger I know, the satisfaction this craft brings. But no trade comes without frustrations and challenges and there are people out there making this one harder than I ever believed possible.

Piracy is not a big problem in digital publishing, it's huge. So if you're downloading or uploading thinking it's just me, just this once, just one, no harm done... Did you check the counter? With downloads by the dozens, hundreds, even thousands? Many writers do. They see what's going on, cry in the shower and resent you for it. Pick themselves up, fight back wondering if it's a losing battle, have another round in the shower and resent you even more. This is the demoralizing reality of those cooking up your favorite fantasies; something so prevalent everyone's sincerity is coming under suspicion.

I don't want you to write me telling me how much you liked my book and all the while think but where did you get it. I don't want to sweat months writing and revising, writing and revising some more, only to have my book stolen the minute it comes out. No author does. That is not how I want to start out a story; with the thought they will copy the hell out of this. I don't want to stop writing, either. No compulsive wordsmith does, and yet some are forced to cut back. Some never seem to get it off the ground. Mouths to feed, bills to pay, you know the drill.

What's it to you? Well, what if it were your favorite author down for the count? Hold your breath and hope for the best? You really want to take it that far? Really really? What if they switch to some other stuff they're good at? Some other craft you don't give a flying fig about? Are you prepared to hand them over to people who will never love them and appreciate them and understand them the way you do? What if you never find another author who understands you, life, the universe and everything the way they did?

I know many multitalented authors. They could have been a great many things, and what do they choose to do, the fools? They write. For reasons most can't explain and many refuse to dissect. Because that is what they love doing, what they'd rather do above all things. I for one don't want to lose a single one of my favorites so do us both a favor and don't encourage them, okay? Don't give them reasons, excuses or ideas. They're brilliant, yes. They're also highly impulsive and extremely impressionable. Give them the impression there's no future in writing and some will run.

I want to trust you. I want to write. I want to believe it doesn't have to be this way, that illegalities don't have to be accepted as part and parcel of digital publishing. Free reads are free reads, free content is free content. I get that. Books and content with a price tag are not free no matter how you come by them and you know that. You know what you're doing. What you don't seem to realize is how much deeper than an author's pocket the hurt and the harm goes.

Oh but you had no idea? You don't want to die a pitiful putz, do you? Of course not. You want to make sense of those questions, those objections, those buts burning within you. May I suggest you take a look at Shiloh Walker's rather comprehensive Q&A sure to put out the fire?

Long story short: No author, no book. End of story.

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