Hope you don't all downvote me to hell for this rant and this question.
I want to talk about something because this is the sixth time someone is asking me these questions: "Why are you publishing everything you write for free on Smashwords when you pay for covers, editors, proofreaders, why no Patreon, why are you devaluing your work? If you put zero value on your work, how are you expecting others to value what you write?"
I am not devaluing my work, but I don't value it exclusively in money. Since I was 20, I wanted to write stories. I've imagined this future where I could write short stories and sell them to fantasy magazines and live for a month from the paycheck.
"Dreams coming true" are for the lucky few. I wasn't part of them. My dream turned out to be an utopia. After I received rejections from all the major fantasy magazines for several stories, I began to be unhappy with my lack of success. I began being depressed.
That was a time when I barely could afford more than rent, food and a bus fare. I was in my senior college year and most of the cash I had was from handing promotional fliers on the street for 50$ a week.
If I wanted to buy Stephen King's book On Writing, or attend creative webinars to improve my writing, I needed much more than 50$ a week. I don't know how y'all react, but when I can't buy the things I want, I can't eat the food I crave… I can't travel to the places I wish to visit, I can't spent my time with friends because I can't pay for a bloody coffee, I get depressed. Then I get pissed and become destructive towards myself. "I'm worthless", "I'm not good enough","what the hell am I doing with my life?"
At my lowest point, I took a decision: Get financially independent no matter the job. It doesn't need to be a "dream job". It just needs to be a job that pays rent and makes me feel proud of myself. Learn to be the best at that job and advance in career for a better salary… Learn how to save, then get back to "the writing dream" only when financial failure from writing would mean nothing.
It took 8 years to have a good enough salary to start saving. It took 10 years to be able to use part of the savings to educate myself on writing. Now it's "12 years later" and I started writing again. Now I can afford 99% of the things I want.
And you know what I realized with this financial independence? I don't have any financial constraints to succeed as a writer. I don't need to find an agent, get myself through rejections, get depressed that my writing is crap.
I write because it makes me happy. People reading what I write make me happy. People talking about what I write make me happy. Even people bashing the hell out of what I write make me happy. If you look deep inside your lives you will see happiness (true happiness) can be really expensive to acquire. Some never find it. I say it starts with loving yourself and being proud of yourself. Now writing has become my zone, my relaxation, my peace and quiet, my therapy. I don't need to succeed to be happy. I can fail again and again and it will be fine. I play for the game, not to win.I've been a professional athlete for 11 years. I had enough of "competitive spirit"
Today my writing time is limited. I don't have days to write, I have hours. And I use those hours to the maximum. And I'll be darned if the creative process isn't a lot better now, than it was at the beginning. The ultimate goal for all of us is to be happy. That's why all the advertisements are showing happy, smiling people. They are selling the illusion of happiness and we buy this and that to be happy like those people.
So yeah, I give the ebooks for free. Because the ones that read pay me too, but in a different way. What is reading? Reading is an experience. Readers offer time from their own lives to read the stories authors let lose into the world. With every second we live, we get closer to death. For every object you buy you should think how many minutes of your life you spent acquiring that object. Is it worth to work a full month to buy that flashy smartphone, or 3-5 years to buy off an expensive car if you don't use them to bring you revenue? You should exchange the price of everything you want to buy into the minutes you spent working for it.
When people read my stories, they pay with minutes from their lives. They pay with the sand from their personal hourglass. They make me happy because they have reserved for me an hour of their life.
An hour to read something I wrote. I don't know you, you don't know me, but you gave me a piece of your life you will never get again. I don't need Patreon supporters because the job I didn't want, but took 12 years ago allows a salary that can pay for a website, editors etc
It gives me pleasure to invest in the Story Lake. I could just as well spend the same amount on nails, hair, expensive shoes, travels around the world, or concerts that could give me a temporary hype. Or buy a boat and throw money at it for repairs like some of my friends.
I don't devalue my work if I publish the books for free because my writing is not my end game. My end game is my mental health and my long term happiness. Why should I pay for stuff to be happy, when I can write for free and get to the same results?
How do you value your work when money is not the ultimate goal?
Source: reddit post