Robin Hawke


Value-Added and Value-Subtracted
August 12, 2011, 2:59 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

My job disappeared because people wanted the information, the how-to I sold, free of cost. They began to look on the internet for advice and knowledge. There, people willing to give it away—to market their skills and make their name—were easily found.

I turned to writing books as a way of consolidating the information I taught for over a decade. I wrote several nonfiction books…to discover that people sold tutorials on the internet. The tutorials were specific and narrow in scope, ten pages of information equivalent to one page of my books, but they were similarly priced. I began to write a tutorial, but discovered the value to price disgusted me. The prices of tutorials were entirely too high for my peace of mind. The practice felt like robbery. I put my moral foot down and never published a tutorial.

Fast forward, I began to write romance books.

I am finding a similar moral morass. There are so many free books, why would anyone pay for light fiction? I don’t have the chops to sell at a higher price; my fiction-writing skills are growing. I’m trying to make a name for myself, so I’m offering my books at a deep discount to those offered by established professionals. It’s the same situation, but I’m the one devaluing the occupation.

The value for price ratio in this industry disgusts me; $1 for my book seems too cheap and, yet, because I have to buy my own books to give them away, hoping to build an audience who will one day read my more-than-a-dollar books, I don’t want to raise the prices. But, $10-14 for a piece of fiction, no matter how many gushing reviews it has, seems exorbitant for a person in my financial situation. I would like to honor these seasoned writers, but find myself in the bargain basement, hoping to find decent prose, because my library’s budget is restricted.

This situation cannot be particular to writing. The internet has devalued all information. Seemingly free, its cost is the livelihoods of people with skills. And, if you scrutinize its free information, it’s often banal.

The moral dilemma has hit me hard. I feel trapped by the demands of society to provide a living for myself, the need to find an audience, and the crippling certainty I’m going about it all wrong.

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1 Comment so far
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Aah, it is why I am still at the day job! I keep saying, someday….

Comment by Renee Johnson




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