There’s Only One Way to Do the Job

I’m planning to make the shift to giving away all of my fiction for free.  I’ve cut production costs for any given publication by investing in the tools and skills necessary to do formatting and cover design, but editing – that’s a non-trivial expense. I’m not complaining. My editor charges a fair rate for the excellent work she does, and I come away from each piece we produce feeling like we’ve made something worthy – together. However, the shift to entirely free raises the question: should I continue to pay hundreds of dollars per story if I am not selling the books? I am fortunate in that this is a separate question than the one of being able to afford to pay an editor, and yet….  I’ll admit, I considered skipping editing. It gave me a twinge, and whenever something twinges in my conscience, I ask Mr. Aniko what he thinks. He was the one to remind me of the movie Chef, which we watched a few weeks ago.

Mr. Aniko: You remember that scene in Chef, where the son wants to serve the burned sandwich to someone who wasn’t paying, and the father (the chef) prevents him?

Me: Yes. That was one of my favorite scenes.

Mr. Aniko: The chef said that they couldn’t serve the sandwich, and the son said, “Well, they’re not paying for it.” Then the chef explained that to his son that cooking is both an art and a labor of love, and if you love something, you do it to the best of your ability, no matter if someone is paying for it or not.

If I were to skip editing, I’d be casting myself as the son giving away burnt sandwiches. It wouldn’t be respectful to readers. It wouldn’t be respectful of the gift I have been given nor of the source of that gift.

Recently, I listened to a sermon on the nature of God’s light. Each person is a unique expression of love, and this love is produced as light. The preacher meant literal light – as in glowing, white light coming from people who had removed enough of their false selves to let the inner light shine through. It reminded me that we’re all made of star dust. It reminded me that “namaste” means “the light in me reflects the light in you.” It reminded me that readers aren’t some nebulous entities who are there to read&review my stories for my benefit. To give them anything less than my best effort would be disrespectful to them, and through them, right back up to the source of that star dust, that light.

As a former co-worker always said, “There’s only one way to do any job: the right way.”

-aniko

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12 thoughts on “There’s Only One Way to Do the Job

  1. In a world of charlatans and opportunists, Aniko, your integrity is doubly precious. You have respect for your gift and for your readers – and they, in turn, will respect you. Doing the job the right way – to the best of your ability – is essential, never more so than in a world where many authors do indeed (sadly) seem to view their readers as nebulous entities whose sole purpose is to buy and read their books. Kudos! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Mari. As a reader, I’ve grown tired of authors who pressure for reviews, or who then want to have the text changed for various reasons, or who “friend” me so that they can direct message me with some spammy come-on to read their book. As a writer, I don’t want to be that person. The interaction between a book and a reader is private. It’s not about me, even if I was the author. My focus is on sharing the stories I write, not on building a author-empire. I feel like such an odd duckling, though! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacinda, thank you for the compliment. The editing process is a joy when I work with you. You see what I’m striving for, and help me get the story there, without ever imposing your voice over mine. And you catch EVERYTHING! You are an impressive editor, and I’m so fortunate to have your expertise influence so many of my published works.*

      Looking forward to our next editing journey together,
      -aniko

      *For the curious, Jacinda edited everything I’ve released *except* STOLEN CLIMATES. I did not know her when I was working on that book, or I would have hired her in a heartbeat!

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    • Chef is a fun movie, isn’t it? Clearly Twitter-funded, but still has heart. It is a good one.

      I enjoy working with my editor. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process, and she guides me to producing my best work. That’s invaluable, despite the fact that we agree to put a dollar value on it.

      Thanks for visiting!

      -aniko

      PS The Sassy Sam, aka The Intern, says hello!

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  2. You should absolutely charge for your work Aniko! And with the plethora of free works from you shared so generously, your readers will be happy to pay. Both for themselves and to support you so you can keep on writing and investing in your books.
    Cheers,
    Radhika

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    • Hello, Radhika –

      It’s lovely to meet you. Thank you for reading and commenting. I struggle with the sales and monetary aspects of publishing, but my hope is that my stories find people who love them, whether or not they are free.

      -aniko

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Aniko! It was wonderful meeting you! For us independent writers, where our art seems so divorced from monetary considerations, charging can be a difficult issue, but I am very sure your stories will find great readers, paid or unpaid! Also, many freelance writers and authors report that raising their rates actually gets them better clients, more clients and so more revenue. I wish just such an effect for you! 🙂
        Cheers,
        Radhika

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