Monday Musings: “Your Books Are So Good, I Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Them.”

This happened to an author of my acquaintance. She got an email from a “fan” and the gist of it was this:

Dear Ms. Author.

I really like your books. I think they are well-written and I enjoyed reading them. (So far, so good, right? Hang on.) However, I have returned them all because you priced them at $0.99 to $2.99, and that is too much to pay for them. I can’t afford to pay that much for a book, even though I liked it. In the future, can you make sure you make all your books free so I don’t have to return them?

And, when the author in question blocked this “fan” (and it seems, reported her as an abuser of the return system on ebooks), she sent another email chastising the author for blocking her and forcing her to open a second account (presumably to harass the author further). She went on to say that other authors haven’t been this terrible to her, and in fact, have asked her to be a beta reader because she bought and returned their books, so why does this author think she has the right to do these terrible, terrible things?

Uh, WTF? Lemme tell you something, sweetie. This writing stuff? This is work. This is our JOB. It takes time and effort to write a book, edit and revise several times, get it edited and proofread by outside sources, a cover designed, and the e-book formatted properly. Not everyone has the skill set to do all that themselves. In fact, the outside edit/proofread is essential to producing a professional result. Many times, those things we can’t do ourselves cost actual money. Oh, yes, sometimes you are lucky and have a relative or friend who will work gratis or for barter or a small payment. But it still requires the effort from all involved. That 99 cents you paid? That gets the author a pittance of a royalty, but at least it is something. Again, to a lot of us, this is a job.

Now, I have no idea what this lunatic does for work, but for those of you who do have a job, how would you react if your boss came to you this morning and said: “Look, we love the work you do, we think you are a valuable employee, and you really do help us out a lot. However, we have decided that we shouldn’t have to pay you to do that work. We think it is so good, you should just give it to us.” You think that would fly? Yeah, no. And, yet, this is exactly what this person wants authors to do- give her our work without getting paid. Um, sorry. Ain’t gonna happen. Further, it shouldn’t happen. We put a lot of effort into what we write and we deserve to get paid for it.

She also most certainly should be reported for abusing the system. I worked retail for many years, and you can bet the chronic returners got shut down after a while. You can’t go into a store, buy something, use it for your party or whatever, and then return it, over and over, without being tagged as a problem customer. Oh, and by the way? Threatening to “never buy anything here again (or buy another of her books)” isn’t much of a threat. When you return it, we don’t make any money on it, anyway, so no big deal.

So, listen, honey, get a clue. Those “stories in our heads” are not a gift to you unless we choose them to be. We don’t owe you the chance to read them. We’re not offering them to you for your undying love and admiration. We’re working here, just like everybody else. And, just like everybody else, we deserve to be paid for that work.


Available now: (and you’re gonna have to pay for ’em. 😉 )

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here.

tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final envinronmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.