How much is art worth?
I always like to understand an idea's evolution. This post comes by the way of Jeremy Brooks who sent me to this post from Amanda Effing Palmer, but the seed was planted when I read about author royalties at Galleycat a few weeks ago.
I quote from the comments:
Marvin11: "I think that writer [sic] make MORE than enough money"
PeterKing: "writers should be writing because of their love for the craft, not for the money"
I could go on...but you are all big people. Read for yourself.
So how much is an artist's work worth?
According to some, evidently a penny is too much. Personally, I'm not there yet...I can't and won't demand money for my work. I don't even expect it. The work (in my case writing/editing) is done first, and then maybe, if I'm fortunate, some editor at the Goat's Lunch Review might say "hey, let's print that guy's story and send him a copy and a free donut."
I will continue to write because I enjoy it. I really do...for now. But, if you expect that I'm going to spend thousands of dollars out of my pocket to make someone else money?
I will...only if my payoff is worthwhile. Personally, I favor the direct artist to fan model, but face it: distribution sucks. If I self-publish something, only a handful of people--maybe as many as a dozen, might buy a copy (and that's only after my mom picks up six). I can add value...something special to sweeten the deal (signatures, freebies, etc.), but if nobody sees the deal, it doesn't matter how sweet it is.
You can build a church (or website), but no guarantee people will worship (or visit).
So the big publishing houses have power...at least the ability to help your book be seen by bookstores (they have the distribution channels--they can help it be "seen"). If an author works for a publisher (i.e., the book deal), the publisher is being paid by the author, not the other way around. Famous folk, even D-listers, land huge deals because publishers know they can make money on a D-lister byline. Even a silly celebrity will sell books because of a name. It's about making money, after all. Always has been with "middle men".
Artists create. Fans consume. Middle men do neither, but benefit from the creation/consumption cycle--their motivation is to feed the "beast".
For now, I'm satisfied being what the aforementioned Jeremy Brooks once called a "literary busker". Picture me with my open typewriter case, reading my stories on the street corner, hoping a few kind souls will toss in the latest copy of Goat's Lunch Review...maybe even a leftover donut.
Care to join me?