has a blog post up people really need to read, well two blog posts - one on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure and the other on Stroppy Author's Guide to Publishing. (Prowl into the sites on the right hand side of this page. Both sites make good reading.) The posts are about piracy.
I sympathise with what she has to say. I would sympathise at any time but I sympathise even more after yesterday. A rather senior public servant from a rather important department contacted me and asked if I would do "a little job" for them. My answer was no.
I am well qualified, perhaps uniquely qualified, to do the job but my answer was still no. Why? They were not intending to pay me.
It is not the first time this has happened and, I have no doubt, it will not be the last. The conversation went something like this:
"But Cat you don't go to work. You have plenty of time to help."
"But I work from home. I put in almost seventy hours last week. That does not include the time I put in caring for my father which is the primary reason I do not work elsewhere."
"But you don't get paid for that work..."
"No and that is all the more reason why you should pay me. The people I help are volunteering their services. You get paid. Everyone in the department gets paid. I should be employed as a consultant like anyone else."
"But there's no money..."
"If you want me, find the money."
"And they get paid..."
"Not for giving up their annual leave, paying their own airfares and accommodation and taking their own supplies..."
It is an old argument. I will help people who are genuinely volunteering help for other people. That was the agreement from the start. Yes, they may earn a good sum in their paid employment but giving up 20-30% of your income and your time and expertise to help others is something I am prepared to help you do.
I will not help a well funded government department that wastes money in all sorts of ways, which has the resources within its own boundaries but fails to use them effectively. I will not help people who expect to obtain my expertise and knowledge for nothing. I worked hard, very hard, to develop those skills. I should not be expected to pass them on for nothing to those who are being paid and can afford to pay.
Writers are the same. They should not be expected to work for nothing. If their work is worth publishing then they should be paid a proper sum for it. If their work is worth copying for use in schools or anywhere else then they should be paid a proper sum for it. If it is borrowed from libraries then they should be paid. They should be paid well. Teachers get paid. Librarians get paid. Why do writers not get paid?
We have to value all forms of creativity. My nephews get paid more for doing an evening's gig than some writers get as an advance for months of work - that the money goes straight to charity is beside the point. They expect people to pay. Writers expect people to pay too - but people do not expect to have to pay them.
Modern technology has made it easy to "steal" from writers. Yes, it is theft just as asking me to work for nothing is like asking me, "We would like to steal from you. Will you let us?" The answer is no.
If you read this please go and tell Stroppy Author and friends that you will support them.