Increasingly, at writing conferences and in the mainstream media, I observe growing unrest surrounding the proliferation of free and cheap literature, particularly ebooks. The reasons for sharp discounts and giveaways are legion (and some reasons are better than others), but regardless of the reason, I see greater peer pressure on and shaming of those who are seen to “devalue” literature in our culture.
Whole books have been written on this topic, as it’s an anxiety affecting creators in diverse fields. Some describe the phenomenon from a neutral and even historical perspective (“how have we ended up here?”), some are more activist in their approach (“fight and resist”), and still others are pragmatic (“here’s how to play with the hand you’ve been dealt”).
Given my position as a business consultant, I tend to focus on the last of these: how can a writer be competitive in the current environment and make a living? How can you reframe the problem as an opportunity and move forward? As someone who gives away much of her advice for free, on this blog, I am well versed in the power of free, and its disadvantages. And I’ve commented on strategic use of free here.