The One about Protecting Your Art…

The video is in a weird aspect ratio, the angle of the shot is less than appealing  the lighting is from fluorescent, all yellowish and a little sickly looking…

And if you, like me, are a creative, someone who creates art or literature as a calling in life, it may be the most important 5:52 you spend this year.

The speaker is Stephen Silver. I first became a fan of Stephen through my own association as a fan of the animated show, Kim Possible. When I was involved in putting together a 10th anniversary event celebrating that show, I got to know a number of the people involved. Stephen’s always fascinated me. He went from doing caricature drawings at theme parks to art direction and character design on such shows as Recess, Clerks: The Animated Series, Danny Phantom, and, of course, Kim Possible.  Stephen, working with Chris Bailey and Alan Bodner, were responsible for the look that Kim, Ron, Rufus and the whole cast of that show had.

In recent days, Stephen spend much of his time teaching. He’s created Posebooks by Silver, applications for the iPad and Android tablets that bring up virtual models – a series of photos of a mode, in or out of costume, in different poses. It’s a brilliant training tool for artists of all levels.

Stephen’s passionate about his art, and about his students. So when someone contacted him with a question, he decided to post his reply publicly:

His message was aimed at visual artists, but at the same time, it applies equally well to actors, writers, musicians – practically anyone who creates for a living.

As an indie author starting out over the past year, what I’ve been told, continually, is that one of my best marketing tools is the free book days on Amazon. This is where you can reduce the cost of your book to nothing and let people download it for free. In my first ninety days for sale, I participated in that program on Amazon.com, and listed my novel for free for a total of five days.

The response was tremendous – almost 10,000 people downloaded my novel! It reached number 2 on the genre bestseller list (Action/Adventure) during those days. It’s in front of a number of eyeballs now, and that means people will buy it, right?

Right?

Let’s put it this way. If I had converted 10% of that total number of free downloads into  sold copies of the novel, I’d be a very happy person.

And yet, still, as an indie novelist, I’m told that I must continue to offer the book for free, otherwise people won’t get it. Another author friend, Jess Winfield, related that he’s had people, close friends of his, tell him that they only “buy” free books. That’s not buying. That’s taking.

My first novel was an investment of almost a year in my life. Yet I’m supposed to give away a year’s worth of product for free? How many other professions do the same?

It may be a case of King Canute, trying to hold back the tide of all the other authors who buy in to this idea. But if I agree to devalue my work now, in hopes of capturing an audience someday, who will value it in the future?

About D. G. Speirs

D. G. Speirs is a storyteller living and working in Florida as an author and blogger. His latest novel, TRIANGLE:WILDCARD, is now available on Amazon.com.
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