Friday, September 26, 2008


I just finished and mailed off a freebie for one of Torquere Press's anniversary promotions. They're doing a Road of a Relationship theme, similar to the holiday Advent promotion back in December, with a free thingy (story, recipe, puzzle, whatever) each day of the month. My day is the thirtieth, which is part of the "Anniversary" chunk of the road; I'll post a link to it when it goes up.

I wrote a sort of an epilogue to "A Spirit of Vengeance," called "The Last Anniversary." It shows the boys finally getting together, along with how Josh and Kevin met, and some scenes from Josh's life after Kevin's death. I also included a Chocolate-Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip Muffin recipe I've been working on for over a year. The muffins appear in every scene, and it was fun to be able to include them. :)

The story part is a bit over 3K words long, which makes it just long enough to be a Sip -- a stand-alone short story. On the one hand, "The Last Anniversary" isn't actually a story; there's no real plot arc. It's just a series of scenes, to let readers see the HEA which was implied in "Spirit," plus a few other key events in Josh's life related to his relationships. It wouldn't have worked as an actual story, or at least I don't think so. On the other hand, writing it was just as much work as writing a short story. On the third hand (hey, I write SF and fantasy, remember? [duck]) the last scene, at least, is something some of my readers have wanted, and I'm hoping they'll be happy to see it.

So, for the writers out there (most of you, I think), how much work would you do for a freebie? I'm not regretting this at all; I'm just curious. I've heard some writers insist they'll never write anything for free, or even that they won't write anything for less than some particular minimum per-word payment. How do you feel about that? Will you write and publish something you know you won't get paid for? How much? Any boundaries?



Kerry Allen said...

I do ALL my writing with the assumption I won't get paid for it...

If I write novel-length, I'm going to try to get it published. If it's universally rejected, I have to consider the possibility it's unfit for human consumption, so no, I wouldn't stick it on the internet and embarrass myself.

A short or novella? Sure. The market is more limited (at least in my perception), so publication options might be exhausted after only one or two rejections, and I can choose to believe one or two people simply fail to recognize my genius. If people enjoy it, it's a good way to build goodwill and name recognition. If people hate it, it's small enough to be forgettable, so no damage done.

I don't think I'd feel differently if I was a huge NYT bestseller, either. Sometimes I get ideas for little things that wouldn't have a home elsewhere. I'm not going to kill an idea just because it won't make me money. I find "I won't even write a grocery list if I don't get paid for it" extremely offputting, frankly.

writtenwyrdd said...

I think a short story freebie is probably a great thing. You get published and increase your resume, and you 'lose' very little income by doing so--because we all know that short stories aren't going to pay the bills anyhow. So what's the big deal? I'm not going to sub a whole novel for free, though. Can't think of a reason why I ever would.

Angie said...

Kerry -- well, that's where the "and publish" part was meant to come in. Sure, we all understand that a story (novel, series) might not sell at all, ever; that's just part of the business. [nod] I was thinking particularly about giving a story to a publisher knowing ahead of time that it'll be made available to the readers for free and you won't see a dime.

In this case, I wrote it specifically for the free promotion, so that was my intention all along. I figure it'll help with marketing. Like Cory Doctorow says, obscurity is a much bigger problem for most writers than piracy. :) No matter what other problem you're comparing it to, obscurity usually comes out on top, at least at my level of the writing ladder. Giving away freebies hopefully encourages some new folks to spend money on my other work.

You're right, though, about there not being much of a market for shorts. Unless you happen to hit an anthology theme, there aren't many opportunities. That's one of the things I like about Torquere, that they publish stand-alone shorts as e-books.

I find "I won't even write a grocery list if I don't get paid for it" extremely offputting, frankly.

Me too. [nod] I mean, I get where they're coming from in general. If you've got a mortgage and two cars and three kids and you're supporting all of that with your writing, you need to be fairly hard-nosed about finances. But it can be phrased in a way that doesn't make it sound like you hold yourself above everyone else.

WW -- I'm not sure I'd post a saleable novel for free either. [ponder] For just posting something on my own web site, I'd have to be really sure that 1) it was actually well constructed and written, because Kerry was right about that aspect, and 2) it was such an obscure niche that I was pretty sure I'd never be able to place it with a publisher in the foreseeable future. I don't think I'd ever give a novel to a publisher for free; that's a bit much for a marketing promotion thing. [wry smile]

But yeah, I've never made all that much from a short story and it's worth it every now and then to forfeit that for promotion or charity or both. [nod]


Steve Malley said...

I'm a busker at heart, putting my creative work out there and inviting the nice people who enjoy it to throw a few coins in a hat.

I'm as happy doing a five dollar sketch as a thousand dollar painting, and with writing I'm about the same.

Angie said...

Steve -- maybe that's the answer, then, putting PayPal links up on everything and letting the audience decide what they want to contribute. :) Heck, there are some webcomic guys who make a pretty good living that way.