Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Just Because You Can ...

Fair warning - I'm likely to step on a few toes with this post. I'm sorry for any discomfort I may cause, but my hopes are that by the end of this post, we'll all understand each other a little better, and can help others understand, too.

I am a professional publisher.

I am a professional writer.

I am a professional editor.

I am a professional photographer.

Please note the key word in all four of those sentences. PROFESSIONAL.

That word does not necessarily mean I "act" or "present myself" professionally (although I hope I always do).

In this instance, the word PROFESSIONAL means that I make my living publishing, writing, editing, and taking photographs.

Consumers pay people for services (like plumbers, electricians, mechanics, doctors, dentists, landscapers, lawyers) and goods (like groceries, clothing, electronics, vehicles, furniture, houses, eyeglasses, office supplies). People earn their living performing these services or creating/growing/building/manufacturing these goods. We pay for meals in restaurants, to attend movies and concerts, to park our cars. We pay for just about everything we do and everything we consume.

Yet invariably, almost on a weekly basis these days, I am asked by someone if they can HAVE for FREE something I created or produced. Or they want me to write for them for free. Or edit for free something they wrote.

Writing is NOT my hobby. Publishing is NOT my hobby. Editing is NOT my hobby. Photography and art are NOT my hobbies.

I do each one of these things in order to make a living for my family. To put food on our table. Literally. To put food on our table.

And so do most of the writers, photographers, editors, and artists I know. We are creators by profession and perhaps calling, and we have to make a living just like everyone else.

Creatives deserve to be paid for their work, just like you do.

This concept of expecting free writing or free photos or free books is hurting the publishing and art industries as a whole.

One award-winning professional photographer recently told me, "The proliferation of devices for taking photos has created the idea that all photos are shared in all spaces. And that all photographers are now somehow equal - there's no line between professionals and enthusiasts. It has hurt many working photographers by diminishing the monetary value of their work."

We continued this conversation, with me explaining that the same thing was happening in the publishing industry. Now that everyone can publish a book, everyone seems to think they can be a book author, even though they may not even know how to create properly structured sentences. People are writing full-length manuscripts without having an ounce of training or studying the craft of writing or learning anything about how the industry works. Then when they face their first professional assessment of their work, and receive negative feedback, they decide to self-publish because they can.

My photographer friend said, "Experience and training don't seem to be important any more."

Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD. Just because it is easy to do, doesn't mean it is LEGAL to do. A person's creation is copyrighted the moment he/she creates it, so unless he/she grants you permission or sells you the rights to use their work, DON'T DO IT.

Just because you see a photo floating around online, or a book offered for free on a random website doesn't mean it's truly free for the taking. It means someone created it, and most likely needs to make a living by selling it or someone else has pirated the work and is stealing from the original creator.

If you need free photos, there are plenty of websites where generous photographers offer stock photos for free.

They offer these photos for free in hopes of drumming up other business for their paid photos and artwork. Just like authors offer free books to drum up business for their other books or service platforms.

As my husband frequently says, "Nothing in life is free."

Next time you think about asking a creator for something they created, ask instead how much they charge and make them an offer. You might actually be helping to put dinner on their table or gas in their car.


Come visit Tracy's TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Or her TMPix Shop on Etsy!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.

Related Posts:
Meet the Artist: Corinne Danzl
Meet the Artist: Krystine Kercher
Our Trip to La Jolla
Dreaming of Vacation?
My Inner Artist


Patricia AZ Phillips said...

Hi, Tracy,

Well said.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no idea how wrong it is to copy photographs, writing, and art just to use it as their own.

Going to share this on a couple of social sites.


Tracy Ruckman said...

Thanks so much, Patricia!

Patricia AZ Phillips said...

You are most welcome.

Krysti said...

I stopped offering my books for free after discovering how thoroughly they had been pirated. I was offering them for free in exchange for reviews. I gave away thousands in the hope of reviews. I have a handful of reviews and hundreds of places where my pirated works are posted online, free for the taking.

I believe that authors have done themselves a severe disservice in the digital age by offering freebies.

I'm also rethinking my choice to offer my books as ebooks. The books I've put up for sale that aren't in ebook form have not been pirated.

I don't ever offer my artwork for free either...

Tracy Ruckman said...

Free books seemed like a good idea when I first started the publishing companies several years ago. But the landscape has changed and so has my opinion - we no longer routinely offer free books, although occasionally an author requests it.

I've never offered my artwork/photos for free, although I'm asked for them regularly.