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.