Today on Twitter and Tumblr, I posted about piracy and the effect it had had on the publishing side of the Raven Cycle. Several readers lashed out at me and asked why I did not merely release an 11,000 word story for free if the publisher had decided not to release it — further, they noted, other “big name authors” released “loads” of free content and since I didn’t release “loads” of things for free, surely this meant I just was in it for the money.
I don’t have a lot to add to the piracy commentary that is already up, other than the fate of the Raven Cycle and all its extras are up to my U.S. publisher and so therefore the discussion is weighted toward U.S. buyers.
And I’m not going to speak to the giving away art for free business. The internet has discussed this a lot already, and the fact is that if you take away a paying-for-art model, you end up only getting art from people who can afford to work in their spare time or art that is supported by patrons — both models that we have seen before, both models that end up giving you art produced by and for a homogenous and upper class group. So moving on.
What I will speak to is the “loads” of free content business, because I haven’t addressed this before. I know there are authors who do release loads of free content. Stories of all lengths. Still other authors release loads of extra content available for a low cost, stories and novellas, etc. I can very much see how this is thrilling to readers. However, this will never be me, for four reasons:
1. I am bad at thinking episodically. I think of my novels in novel-shape, and it is difficult for me to think of stories that do not exist within that plotline. Just write Gansey and Blue going grocery shopping, urge readers, but I can’t think of how to make that into a satisfying story shape that will not diminish the original novels, introduce world-building that I will later regret, and be satisfying in one sitting. So ideas come to me very rarely that fit the idea of an extra.
2. My deleted scenes are 99% bad versions of scenes that exist in the novel. They are not me deciding to cut a scene of Gansey and Blue going grocery shopping. They are me trying five different settings for the same conversation. They’re not extra, they’re less.
3. I have always been a slow or at least very exclusive writer. I have a year between books and it takes me all of that time to write them, to think about them, to conceptualize them. I hear about some writers who write their contracted novels and then, in addition, write 10,000 word fanfics. HOW. I am not that person. If I try to write any faster, or write two things at the same time, all that happens is that I have to delete bad words twice as often, or end up writing the same story with two different titles.
4. I am even slower now. I had not posted about my health crisis, because I didn’t want to be that person who talked about their gout at a party, but here it is. Folks who follow me on the internet may have noticed over the past several years that I was posting with increasing frequency about migraines and brain fog. In June, I grew rapidly ill at a seminar and collapsed (I think there’s still a photo of me lying on pavement behind the scenes). I had to be shipped home, canceled a tour for the first time ever, and then spent several weeks trying to get better. I did, sort of — but even weeks later, I wasn’t really better. I had hives all over my body. My hair was falling out. I was weirdly missing abstract thought — some days I could remember my home address, but I couldn’t say it out loud. I also couldn’t stay awake. I had to sleep every four hours, and every time I ate food, I got even more tired. And when I did sleep, it wasn’t real sleep. A drugged, enchanted, dreamless, sick sleep. There are photos all over the internet of me pulled over by the side of the interstate to sleep because when a reaction hit, there was no option. There is also a photo of my crumpled Mitsubishi that happened when I was too tired to avoid the tractor trailer that ran into me on the highway. I should’ve realized sooner that I was having an immune reaction, but it snuck up slowly. Bloodwork ruled out cancer and lupus, but showed that I had no immune system left whatsoever. Since then, I’ve been on a low-histamine diet of about six foods (hence the photographs of the groceries I carry with me on tour) and I’ve slowly become brighter and more like the self I remember from way back when, 2015 self. I can write again, without words looking like foreign intruders on the page. Migraines have vanished. I still have to be incredibly cautious — every time my body is exposed to or creates histamines (dog hair! limes! plane travel!), it still produces hives or puts me into an instant drugged sleep. But I’m getting better. I just can’t do anything stupid. I also just can’t write fast. I will do anything to keep from going back to June 2017 Maggie.
All of this is to say that I wish I could be one of those authors that could surprise and delight with extras. But for many reasons, I can’t be. I’m continually delighted that readers love my books, and I hope those will continue to be enough.
eta: yes, that’s why you no longer see me with cookies. No flour, no eggs, no dairy. :(