So, here’s another fabulous letter from a fan. He read all of Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness in a book store. That is to say, he didn’t buy it, just sat there hogging the comfy chair, polished it off in one sitting (I guess).
Obviously, he really enjoyed the book, and so out of a sense of fairness he decided to send me a personal royalty statement: a money order for $5.
I quite like the tone of William’s letter. He doesn’t send the money out of guilt, but as “a token of appreciation.” After all, you shouldn’t feel that guilty reading in a book store. At some point there might be a socially awkward thing going on, but if you’re really wrapped up–I say go for it.
In general, I’m more of a copyleftist than a copyrightist. I want my readers to swap books with each other, write fan fic, donate to libraries, interpret and remix. That’s called sharing. “Pirating” is when you print my books and sell them without paying me. (You know who you are, Mongolia.)
Now, in this dog-eat-dog world you’d think getting a personal royalty check would be unprecedented. But this issue comes up a lot more than you’d think. Friends often borrow a manuscript or review copy of mine and laughingly say, “Well, I’ll just give you the royalty. What’s that? $2.50?” They start digging in their pockets, and I refuse.
What they don’t realize is, it ain’t just me. I have a whole publishing family to support. Editors, proofreaders, cover designers, printers, publicists, booksellers, tree-growers, tree-choppers, paper pulpers. If you, gentle reader, only pay me (even at William’s astonishing 30% royalty rate) they’ll all starve!
And then where would I be? All alone on the blistering plain.
We all support each other: my editors and proofreaders and book-binders, the readers who share their favorite titles, libraries that allow you to try out new writers, fan-fic writers who work hard to create new fans, and even massive book chains who let you hang out all day drinking their coffee without buying the book.
So I’m not cashing William’s money order. It’s partly out of solidarity with my bookselling and tree-pulping brethren, who I don’t want to cut out of the deal.
And partly because I’m gonna frame the sucker. It was a very sweet gesture, and much appreciated in return.