• Gisèle Schembri

From An Author: Art Is Work

NB - This piece is written in answer to 'a' reader and not my own readers.

I am a writer, but also unquestionably a reader. Even though I rarely follow recommendations or even read popular books that other people would be talking about, I anyway find myself in quite a few groups for readers on Facebook.

Now sometimes, there are threads that might sound logical from the reader’s side but make no sense from the author’s point of view. I usually try to explain why what the reader is saying is not really feasible to do.

However this week I was hit with a harsh post. A reader suggested how lovely it would be if all books were free and obviously on a book-lovers group the feeling was shared by all who replied or ‘liked’ the post.

A book takes month, maybe years, to write. Then it takes editing, artwork and preparing the pdfs for printing. In addition to not counting the cost of the services required and the printing itself, these readers are indirectly telling authors that they should give out their work for free.

Would you ask an accountant to fill in your tax form and then not pay him/her? Has your plumber ever turned up to fix your faulty faucet for free? Yet some people expect artists to produce work without being remunerated for it. I cannot speak for the painters and sculptors and dancers and actors on the stage, but I can most definitely comment about my own field of expertise.

Most of the time a paperback costs around EUR12 to buy new. Have you ever considered how it takes less than two hours in most jobs to earn that pay, but the author needs to sell thousands of copies to realistically get a decent hourly pay for the work and hours they would have put in?

Have you ever thought how indie authors actually have to even fork out money from their own pockets to get their book out in print most of the time? And yet some people would rather get their copy for free, paid for by the person who came up with the idea, got muscle pain from long hours at a time sitting down to create the book and was not reimbursed for his time and energy at all.

Image by waldryano from Pixabay


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