Back in September, I started getting a lot of Romantic Times-generated flack because of an RT article accusing me of undercutting the advances of other writers by my practice of giving away free e-books for my readers. I believe Melanie Lynne Hauser was the other author who was attacked for the same thing (note to self: go check out her free content.)
At the time I chose not to respond to the attack for two reasons: 1) I never actually saw the article in question and 2) it is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard. But like most publishing conspiracy theories, this one evidently refuses to die. After I recently talked about free content over on Tobias's blog, I got a few e-mails from unhappy people who actually believe this nonsense.
Here's my take: free e-books are an an excellent way to promote the work and give something back to the readers. Feedback from my free e-books usually tells me what works for my readers and what doesn't, which helps me decide what to pitch to publishers. Free e-books kept my StarDoc series alive and convinced me to re-pitch the Darkyn series.
And you know something? I get a kick out of writing them, putting them together, making the cover art, all that stuff. I like having complete creative control over the final product. And I love knowing anyone can read them whenever they like.
There will always be writers who expect readers to pay for the privilege of reading every single word they write. Alas, I'm not one of them. To suggest that my freebies are a determining factor in how much other writers are paid makes me feel really powerful, though.
So okay, I give up. I'll take the blame.
I did it. I'm the reason you have a day job. I'm the reason your advance sucks. I'm the reason your genius continues to be ignored. Forget about Melanie, it was 100% my fault. Yes, it was all, all me. You authors out there, be warned: mess with me and I'll write more free stories!
Oh, and while we're on the subject, global warming? My bad, too.