Thursday, 15 June 2017

“Why are you giving away your mystical adventure and sci-fi ebooks?”

I started writing way back, long before terms like “self publishing” and “indie authors” were coined; a time when people still turned up their noses at what they perceived to be “vanity publishing”. Along came the e-book and the Amazon Kindle, and I decided to make the most of this opportunity, and take charge of the publishing and marketing process, using the newly-emergent social media of Facebook, Twitter, blogging platforms, and – to a lesser extent – Google+.

This worked fine for some time, but as more and more joined the indie gravy train; as indie became more and more mainstream; and as marketing gradually became a matter of who could shout the loudest in this new, hustling, bustling marketplace, I became more and more disenchanted with the direction that things were heading, at least for me.

I've always shied away from competition, in favour of healthy cooperation, and much prefer the road less travelled, or dancing to the beat of a different drum, to mainstream activity, fashion and craze. In one of the books, a wise, old character advises: “The mind observes and cogitates, the heart engages, and I would encourage you to engage with the process,” and I've tried to take her sage advice. When your heart is engaged in something fun and hopefully worthwhile, there is no distinction between work and play, and I'd very much like to keep it that way.

For a time, I dropped out of marketing my books at all, but it wasn't until I read Cory Doctorow's latest novel, Walkaway, and rediscovered an interest in the gift economy, that I really reconsidered my approach. I decided that I really wasn't in this lark – as Doris Lessing might call it – to make money off people, especially in this awful, semi-dystopian age of neoliberal populism and austerity. Unlike others I know personally who can and do charge hundreds of pounds for a day's consulting services without batting an eyelid, I'm the kind of guy who'd say: “Hey, that's fine. I really enjoyed helping out,” and – if pressed – might add “Okay, maybe you can buy me a pint sometime?” with no intention of reminding the person at a later date. They owe me nothing.

Coupled with this, is my re-emergent conviction that it's far better that the “message” gets out, and is preserved, than copies of my works are sold.


So, here I am: I've deliberately removed all my titles from Amazon worldwide, though I've left the entries at Goodreads; I've uploaded epub and mobipocket versions of the books to the Raspberry Pi server I run from home; and I've made them available for free download, without any restrictive digital rights management. You don't licence the books from anyone: you actually own them.

Copyright still applies, meaning that people are not free to copy, modify or publish the books themselves, but I am perfectly happy for readers to share links to the Sher Point Publications, UK page, and send copies of the books to their friends. And, of course, though there is no obligation whatsoever, I would be delighted and most grateful if readers were to write and post reviews of the books at Goodreads, on blogs, or even in the mainstream media.

As Ursula K. LeGuin wrote in The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction:
“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? ... If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
So there you have it, friends, with many thanks. Download the books for free, and simply enjoy!

Downloads

You can download the books from my server at:

Ebook reader

And you can read both .epub and .mobi files using:

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