Sharing Our Work
You probably know this joke: Someone collecting for the local community charity visits the house on the hill, where the rich guy lives. He asks for a donation. The rich guy tells him, “My poor elderly mother, in the nursing home since she broke her hip, needs an operation; my poor sister, widowed, has four children to provide for; my poor brother, out of work, is on the verge of bankruptcy—and if I won’t help any of them, why would I help you?”
I think about my behavior as a reading consumer. I have shelves of books—good books, that I picked out myself—and I have never got around to reading them. I can scan through the offerings at any online book retailer, and I can find dozens of additional titles I’d love to read in theory; but, just like the punchline, if I don’t read the books I’ve already bought, why would I buy another one?
I put a lot of free content on my blog. And I love to see other people’s work. I don’t know if writers are sometimes inhibited by fear of criticism, or by fear of giving away something for nothing. Consider the music industry back in old times, when we used to record singles off the radio on cassette tapes. In those days, they didn’t overcharge for LPs; and we understood that our home recording of the hit song we loved wasn’t of good quality. We generally bought the album; in fact, we even bought the ‘greatest hits’, despite already owning all the songs on separate albums. They didn’t overcharge in those days, and they weren’t so paranoid that they believed every customer was a criminal.
Consider an aspiring singer or comedian. Many times, someone breaking into these professions works for nothing, just to get his or her voice before an audience.
As writers, I think we have a tough task to get someone to not merely like what we do, but to want to purchase our work. We need to get our audience involved. We need to be uninhibited about sharing.