Saturday morning. An interesting email arrived. I retrieved it from the spam folder, noting it as yet another ‘unique opportunity’-style of email, the kind I normally delete. (Note to PR people out there - I delete them all.) This one however had legitimacy stamped all over it because, and I must be honest here, the words ‘publisher’ and ‘book’ are guaranteed to make me weak at the knees. The email began with a flood of flattery, a deliberate play, which I largely skipped over – yada, yada, yada, heard it before – but the offer seemed genuine enough at first glance. My work, published, in a book. Not bad, right? Still, something jarred. I went outside to prune the hedges and think.
About two-thirds of the way through the email, the following statement appeared:
“We are a small publisher and cannot offer payment for contribution; however, we believe the benefits you receive in terms of exposure and satisfaction will make involvement worthwhile.”
Frankly, I found this deeply insulting. To not even offer a share of the profits? Really? If the profits were going to a worthy cause, I would jump on board in an instant, but to ask for free content without so much as even a token payment? Are you kidding? Not only insulting, it’s downright patronizing.
I have a long and involved history with bookselling. The publisher in question is not what I, with 17 years of experience behind me, would call a “small publisher” and if they were, then how could I, a contributor, be sure that the work I’d generously donated would be prominently displayed in an already saturated cookbook market? Something tells me this book has Remainder Table written all over it...Now. I don’t wish to upset anyone who has already said yes to the project because I have no doubt that the final book will be a beautiful, desirable object, but I offer a small plea to think on this. Many people out there still view blogging as some kind of not-writing, and if we keep letting them have our content for free, how will we ever turn our work – and it is work, people - into something of real worth? As someone who has been blogging for 4 years this month, my writing and photography – my work here among these pages - have developed into a shape and form of which I am unashamedly proud. Hoodwinking writers like myself into providing free content is not only unfair, it’s deceitful.
MORE: Matt made me snort tea out of my nose laughing, with his post (thanks to the lovely Sophie for the link) and Aun, of Chubby Hubby fame, not only refused the very same offer, he actually got a response. (Thanks Duncan!)