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This is an old one, but still a good reminder. Are we amateurs ruining it for the professionals? When does an amateur become a professional? It used to be 'when you got paid for doing it' ::).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

I can't figure out how to embed You Tube videos :-[
 

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I've seen that one before, and it's a GREAT reminder for everyone in the creative professions, not just writers.  Thanks for posting it.
 

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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
This is an old one, but still a good reminder. Are we amateurs ruining it for the professionals? When does an amateur become a professional? It used to be 'when you got paid for doing it' ::).
It's not a issue of whether amateurs are ruining it for professionals so much as being: are amateurs who work for free ruining it for everyone? The amateurs are trying to become professionals, but by constantly distributing their products for free, they are so diluting the market that potential customers have less need to reach into their pocket and pay a few dollars for hours of entertainment. And those that actually WANT readers to steal their work and then distribute it for them through free upload sites and torrent sites (as Becca lectured last week in the SFWA thread) are the worst offenders because they are not only condoning theft, but actively promoting it. Many young readers have developed the premise that all books should be free and that they are serving the greater good by stealing copyrighted material and distributing it.

The sad part is that the people who freely distribute books via Select, Permafree, and price matching don't see the harm they are doing to our industry, or choose to ignore it. And then others praise the amateurs who post messages about how high they ranked on the FREE charts at Amazon, or how many free copies they distributed. From the perspective of one individual distributing their work for free, it doesn't seem so bad, but when you look at it collectively, it's a disaster that has already taken root and is spreading. A few years ago writers were justifiably bragging on sites like this about the number of books they had sold. Now writers brag about how many free books they distributed. The stories of what writers would say to their 9 to 5 bosses when they made enough to become fulltime writers have all but disappeared. Yes, a few people are doing well by effectively milking the KU system, but even the band on the Titanic was gainfully employed until the water reached the promenade deck.
 
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I completely disagree that free books are ruining the market. Those who make that argument always conveniently forget that readers have had access to free books for decades through the public library system. ::)

In any case, what I've found is that the more generous I am with readers, the better my books do. That does not necessarily mean undercutting myself as far as prices go, but strategic use of price-pulsing, free-pulsing, perma-free, and reader-sets-the-price have enabled me to write full-time.
 

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Steven Hardesty said:
Quality always will succeed. But that presumes an audience that recognizes quality. Until the audience catches up, there's marketing. (Which also explains most fluffy bestsellers.)
The problem is that even the worst writers think their stuff is high quality. They often fail to see that those "fluffy bestsellers" are of a much higher caliber than their books.

(This isn't aimed at you, Steven. Just a general overview.)
 

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FREE is the natural by-product of the new open-to-all publishing game. Without Big 5 gatekeepers, or the agents acting as gatekeepers, the new hurdle to success is discoverability. The FREE debate seems to fall into two camps, one that has successfully overcome this hurdle and those who have yet to. Naturally the views of both parties will differ based on their position.

FREE helped me overcome the discovery issue. I'd like to say it was my awesome talent that did it but even if that were true FREE came before anybody read my work in great numbers. Here's a review I got just the other day. (I post it not to toot my horn but as an example of how people are finding my books)

5.0 out of 5 stars Not closure just the start, 14 Mar. 2015
By
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Closure: Jack Randall #1 (Kindle Edition)
Not closure but the start of a new relationship with another author. Not heard of Randall Wood before but that's the beauty of e books trying a free book sometimes lands you a gem. The downside, this tight fisted Yorkshire man is probably going to have to pay to hear more about Jack Randall, thanks Mr Wood are you trying to ruin a reputation?
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FREE is a powerful tool. Not using it has entered my mind on occasion, but is then quickly dismissed. I always thought I would return my permafree to paid once I "made it" but now my goal is to increase my free/sold ratio. As a business decision it just makes more sense. FREE is like my own personal celebrity endorsement. If I had the choice of FREE or a blurb from Lee Child I would have to go with FREE. I can control it. I can leverage it. It gives me great options for promotion. FREE has proven to be a great business partner.

Is Harlan right? Maybe. I do love his rant and I've watched it many times, but let's not forget what side of the discovery hurdle he's speaking from. His beef with Warner Brothers is a problem most writers would love to have. Paying the writer is important, but in today's world that writer has to first demonstrate to the reader that his work is worth the readers money. Again, the natural evolution of the business. Discoverability, that's the biggest hurdle now. I'm just glad we only have to prove it to the readers and not some faceless publishing machine.

I think this advice from Harlan still has some truth in it, but I also feel it's a bit antiquated.
 

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Hey, I think we'd all like to get paid, but Harlan's specific example has very little correlation to making a lead-in series ebook free. He's talking about someone wanting someone from the author, asking for something, and then paying nothing.

I've given away millions of free ebooks, and it was all entirely my idea. Nobody came to me and said they wanted me to do all this work for nothing. Nobody. Nobody asked me to be an author or a publisher. So, I can give away free samples and I don't feel used or abused at all. It's a privilege for me to use Amazon's massive infrastructure to offer samples of my products to their customers, in the hopes that they'll buy more in the form of my paid products.
 

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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
This is an old one, but still a good reminder. Are we amateurs ruining it for the professionals? When does an amateur become a professional? It used to be 'when you got paid for doing it' ::).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

I can't figure out how to embed You Tube videos :-[
Kboards doesn't like the "s" in the http, so if you remove it, the video will embed:

 

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Let's play the recording again:

"Free books aren't 'working for free', they're loss leaders, a proven marketing strategy."

It's when you start taking massive pay cuts, sacrificing your agency, or even paying lots of money for 'exposure' just to get your work out there that you're 'working for free'.

Libraries have existed for almost as long as civilization. Free samples have existed for almost as long as stores. Somehow the concept of commerce has failed to collapse into a black hole because of these things. So chill.
 
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