Posted by & filed under Pirates & Politics. 11 comments

Last week, writer Andrew Hickey posted his thoughts on unprofessionalism in indie writing in a post entitled “Pissing in the Pool or  Why Readers Hate Indie Writers.”   In sum, the refusal of their authors to aspire to higher quality–in the product, in their writing, in their conduct–gives all indie writers a bad name.  “If you are charging for your work,” he says, “you have an obligation to be professional.”

He is right.

But obligations makes people on both sides nervous.  And nervousness makes people hesitate.  Not the pissers.  No, the people pissing in the pool aren’t going to give a rat’s ass where the stream goes. They won’t hesitate for a second.

But everyone else will.

Writers are nervous about putting a book out to be judged against the books put together by entire teams of professionals.  New writers are nervous about whether they can measure up.  Established writers are nervous about getting mixed in with the deluge of waste.  Many writers don’t know if they can meet their obligations of professionalism.  And probably many can’t.

Readers know this.  And that gives them a complex of their very own. Even indie-friendly readers are nervous about wading through torrents of piss-poor books to get to the good ones.  And they should be.  Asking people to fork over cash for who knows what in return isn’t fair.

How to cut through all the anxiety? Take away the obligation.

How to take away the obligation? Get on the pirate ship.

Allowing books to be shared freely removes both the obligation of the reader to fork over money and the obligation of the writer to write quality books.

Yeah, that’s right.

You are NOT obliged to write good books.  Not in the pirate verse.

You can stick crap on a page, stick a price tag on the crap and stick it all up on the Kindle store,  much like how you could stick a Flattr button on a picture of poop.  In the Kindleverse, nice covers, blurbs and well-timed spam can trick people into paying for the excrement.  But on the pirate ship those tricks don’t work.

People pay for what they like.  They don’t pay for what they don’t like, and they shouldn’t have to.  

Yes, you can put shit up online.  You can piss in the pool.  Many writers do, and many will continue to do so in the future.  Like piracy, the piss-filled pool of writing online is here to stay.  It’s not going to get harder to writer terrible books, and it’s not going to get harder to publish them.  But it is hard to share them, because people don’t share what they don’t like.  In the digital world where sharing can lead to sales for writers and new favorites for readers, both groups could benefit from flying under the pirate flag.

So let’s get everyone aboard safely.

11 Responses to “Avoid the Piss in the Pool–Get on the Pirate Ship”

  1. Andrew Hickey

    I agree, to an extent. Certainly I’d *rather* people paid money for my books than that they not pay, but I put the first drafts of everything up on my blog for people to read for free (often the second draft is substantially different, but sometimes it’s not), and I never stick DRM on any of my stuff. Gratifyingly, a lot of people who read my stuff through the blog later go on to buy the books.

    Thanks for the flattr recommendation, BTW. Very good of you.

  2. live60

    I disagree with Aelius since pricing keeps bad writers at bay period. I enjoy charging the $10.00 for one of my books because it allows me to write more and create better books, incentives and gifts for readers. The money also benefits readers who aspire to be writers, since I can afford to publish other writers if I choose to do so. The pirate network is a group of people wanting something for nothing. Try getting into a baseball game with a line, “I’ll pay for it if I like it.” Yeah right, they’ll kick your ass out so fast you’ll think you’re in a time machine. Books are already a bargain, and reading them on Kindle is just that much better. Now after many years of charging writers for books I’m working on creating an indie movie, the money from books going further to help even more creative people, namely actors. The creative world is a pay-as-you-go sort of arrangement. Sure pirates want free works to place on websites, so they can get paid for advertisement, leaving the writer out in the cold. Smart people invest in themselves and earn profits for doing so. Money makes it magic and nobody is robbing someone else by asking for a $10.00 book price. No one went bankrupt buying a book. And, who’s to say the reader is a professional audience and even has a clue as to what makes a book good or bad. Money does separate free opinions from professional audiences. I’ll take the pro paying audience any day over slum dwellers looking for free stuff in the garbage cans of cyber space. A professional writer like myself has no problem telling the slum dwellers of cyber space they can forage in garbage cans or move up to the real world.


  3. live60

    It’s obvious, Aelius, the market proves which one of us is right. By the time I was your age, my writing was responsible for me purchasing my first custom made home. So, at your age of 24, how are you doing?


    • aeliusblythe

      “By the time I was your age…”
      LOL!! Because nothing changes in, what, 50 years? Sorry if I’m a little off, I’m young and a long time is a long time.

      “It’s obvious…”
      How many times do I need to say this? [cita… aw what the fuck. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

      RD, I have no interest in your persistant self-aggrandizing anecdotes. You have yet to refute, in any of your dozens of comments, one single point with facts–even when I and others have provided several. I–and this debate–have no use for unsupported and out-of-date supposition. If you cannot provide anything more than that, then you have no place in the discussion.

      You were the one that said that if people want your time, they must give you something. Unfortunately, in this instance I find myself agreeing with you. As your dozens of comments have not provided even the minutest grain of usefulness, if you continue in this vein, I will remove them as per the troll policy that I’m about to write and as per your own suggestion (Thanks for that.)

      No more stooping.

  4. live60

    I asked you if you wanted me to leave, and you didn’t answer, Aelius. I have no problem with parting ways with you. You stated you want replies and a discusion, you said nothing about making it a legal trial. I suppose I expected you to allow people to make up their own minds between my logical responses and your supposed evidence. And now you have turned childish since the cold waters of reality have hit you squarely in the face. I brought up a fact about my writing success at your age, which I’m sure frustrates you, since you feel belittled in front of your peers. Feel free to unsubscribe me from your list. I’m sorry you feel I’m a troll, since that’s not my intent. But maybe I’ve been too hard on you in my criticisms. If so, I apologize. I wish you the best in your future writing career.


    • aeliusblythe

      I have not seen one logical response from you ever. Criticism I listen to. Debate I listen to. Uselessness and personal attacks I do not.

      I only want you to leave if you have nothing useful to say–and you have again demonstrated that this is the case. So yes, please leave. Any further trolling will be deleted.

  5. Frankie Sachs (@frankiesachs)

    My observation is that people behave how you expect them to behave. If you expect your readership to be a bunch of hooligans and looters that will snatch something for nothing just because they can, and you treat them that way, and especially if you talk to and about them that way, that’s exactly what you get.

    OTOH, if you expect that most of your readers are decent, honest people and that if you ask them to pay for something, they usually do. (Or they will if they can, which doesn’t just mean if they’re not broke, it also means that they aren’t barred from legally purchasing your work because of bullshit legal and territorial restrictions.)

    And one of these audiences usually feels a much deeper loyalty to the creator and their work than the other.

    • aeliusblythe

      Good point. Treating fans like thieves that need to be monitored and controlled won’t make them any more loyal. I find it heartening to see the growing number of creators online that treat their fans better and do well for it. Perhaps one day that will put a stake in the heart of the theory that total control is the only way to profit.


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