He's right. It's that simple. Writers do something that is valuable. Storytellers do something that is valuable. To let your ego and vanity blind you to the commercial realities of publishing, television, or movies is foolish. Ellison knows that writing is hard work, and how well companies like MGM and Warner Bros. and others commercialize it -- through sales, syndication, merchandising, etc. His is the voice of experience, and apparently hard-earned experience. His anger is real. It has to be insulting.
I always find it interesting that people can accept with one hand their own pay yet try to deprive people working just as hard or harder of their pay on some nonsense principle like "publicity" or "fame." It's even harder to take when the person they're trying to scam is upstream in the creative process. Ellison's interview is "the goods," and they aren't willing to pay for them? C'mon!
Good for him. This notion that we should all be in it for the love and not worry our little heads about that boring old money (and lordy lordy you can't really expect to get paid in this business, you know) has been around since the dawn of the publisher/writer symbiosis; it's just that now there are swarms of people out there expecting us to work for free. Teachers deal with the same bullshit: you won't mind doing this extra work for free, we know, because it's for the students.
Yeah, and once intellectual property is freed for the good of all, why stop there, we could do the same with property of all kinds.
I always find it odd that what is basically a communist ideology - public ownership of property - can fail in every attempt in every country with every other kind of property, but people (and I find it oddest of all that it's usually libertarians who propose this communist idea) still offer it up as a realistic idea for intellectual property and aren't worried it'll be a slippery slope to public ownership of all property. I guess there's a difference between public ownership and no ownership at all (been a while since I read Prud'Homme and the rest of the anarchists but I don't seem to recall them faring any better than the communists) and I still don't see why the world will stop at intellectual property.
You know, I almost didn't watch it because I thought that he thought it should be free.
Bless the man! I was convinced that I was the only angry author on the planet.
Mind you, Harlan Ellison's got it made, and I haven't. I'm one of those who beg for a little free publicity. Just mention my name. All of my interviews were free -- and I was pleased to do it -- and thanked those who asked me to do an interview.
But I draw the line at free books or free addresses or personal appearances. Been there and done that, and there was no gain in it for me publicitywise.
I think that Harlan Ellison's clip was somewhat short of wonderful. And I do think that he makes a good point, but I,J. make an excellent point as well.
It's according to where we are in the publishing chain. Frankly, with 44 novels and over 400 short stories sold, I still consider myself in the "here I am, I'm free" category in terms of appearances, etc.
But when it comes to stories or novels, I don't give them away. I want money, even a modest amount--at least one to three cents a word.
Funny about Harlan, though, he's out there and he rears his flakey head every now and again ... or maybe someone rears it for him, and we talk about him all over again.
Not far from his rant--and that's what it was--was a humorous give and take apparently some years old--with Robin Williams interviewing Ellison, about the old days of one to three cents a word (instead of the current days of one to three cents a word) but mostly it was about L. Ron. Hubbard and his path to Scientology ... that was pretty good. But it referred to an alleged scientology "brainwash" clip, which had music so weird that no matter how low I played it it seemed to be bringing on a headache. (Turn it off, Turn it off, I see the light!--NOT.)
Some of that was a little off the topic, but I am going through my morning ritual of procrastination. It really is time to get to work.
Again, nice comment I.J.
(But do I detect that the same half-dozen posters are keeping the forum alive?
44 novels sold, Jack? Holy crap. You make the rest of us look like rank beginners.
I'm happy to do interviews and other promotional stuff for free, though I do like to get paid for readings, which are performances and take some preparation. Ellison was talking about doing an interview for the bonus features section of a DVD, I thought--and being told by the DVD producer that he should do it for free because it was "good publicity" for him. I can understand his rage, in that case, since the bonus features are alleged to add value, and so of course he should be compensated for that. My niche in the food-chain is somewhere in the neighborhood of plankton, but I would also have a hard time consenting to give work away for free so someone else could profit from it.
Depends if it's a bookstore thing--strictly promotional--or a literary festival or college gig. Happy to do the booksotre stuff for free, of course, but if I'm reading at a venue or event that pays, then I want to get paid like any other reader.
I'd hold out on value-added stuff. Google books is a good esample: my first novel is now available in excerpt on Google books. That's fine; you can only read a few pages, and I guess it's got some promo value for me. But it also adds value for Google (more eyeballs, more hits on their ads), and there's the fact that nobody fucking asked me first. Shouldn't I get a share of whatever value is added to Google books by having my book excerpted there? I think I should.
What do you think about libraries offering your book without asking first? I'm not be sarcastic or anything, I'm really curious because it seems to me that libraries are ignored while the internet is scrutinized yet some of the same stuff is going on.