Posts Tagged With: free

The Value of Value 2: Free (Written) Speech?


Writing for Peanuts?

Following on from my last post about value, I stumbled across a news item reporting that Philip Pullman, he of Dark Materials creation, had resigned as patron of the Oxford Literary Festival over the non-payment of authors (on the BBC here). I hadn’t heard anything about this (I assume my invitation had, once again, been lost in the post) so vigorously pursued the story as I am supposed to be finishing my next novel was intrigued.

Simply put, it appears that the festival organisers do not pay authors for giving talks at the event. They say that it would add too great a financial burden on the charitable organisation that runs it. They say that the exposure to potentially new readers should be payment enough, although how one might use potential book sales to pay the train fare to reach Oxford in the first place, I am unclear. Philip Pullman said “Where everyone else is being paid, the cleaners, cooks and the waiters, everyone is being paid except the person at the very centre of this, the author”.

I found an interesting blog on The Spectator website (here). It features an interview with Harlan Ellison, who is probably not a household name in every household but was, in his time, a very influential sci-fi writer. The video clip is that of a grumpy old man (I mean, a really grumpy old man) talking about how writers should be paid for their work, and he makes some very valid points. Plus he is quite amusingly angry.

The point is, of course, what value are writers to any society? If the only fiction writers are essentially amateurs and only do it for the love of the written word, what might happen to that society? Would its TV programmes, films and plays become unwatchable? Has this already happened? Or is it that the cult of celebrity excludes those who are actually any good at anything, largely by exploiting those that are (look at Naomi Campbell’s ghost-written effort, for example. Actually don’t, it wasn’t ghost-written very well, although being non-corporeal probably makes it hard to hit the keys or hold a pen. And you have no head to hold a coherent thought in too.)?

I often ponder whether being a writer is a ‘real’ job, just like I ponder whether being a supermodel is a real job. I joke about it sometimes when asked what it is I do for a living, partly because I don’t currently make the kind of living where I could actually live on the proceeds for more than about a day out of writing or being a supermodel (although I don’t put nearly the effort into the latter as I should).

I am, of course, biased but I think Mr Churchill included books of all descriptions when, on being asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he replied: “Then what are we fighting for?”

So, with the promise of all those potential book sales, would I talk for free to the Oxford Literary Festival if my invitation turned up tomorrow?

I want to say definitely not, but I think I can only truthfully say probably not. Ask me again after I have sold my first 20,000 copies of BATDIG or Kirkenes Blue.



Categories: Artist, Writing | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

A Blatant Plug 2


#32 in the charts, like Duran Duran’s (Reach up for the) Sunrise in the Irish charts in 2004

Yesterday I attained the dizzy heights of being a Top 40 author! Admittedly, it was in the chart for free kindle sci-fi downloads but, even so, it still gave me a sense of achievement*. BATDIG even reached the dizzy heights of #63 in the thriller chart (free kindle download version of course).

Naturally, it has yet to match its highest position – joint #1 in the “Kindle books by Jon Sayer” chart – but there is still time to download your copy for free and make it a smash overnight* success!

Two and a bit days left of the promotion – I would like to thank the already large number of people who have downloaded it this time around. To those of you who haven’t – go on, what have you got to lose? Nothing, that’s what!


* Which probably isn’t saying much considering I feel a sense of achievement every time I manage to open a bag of crisps without spraying the furniture with processed potato goodness. Mmm…processed potato goodness…

** Overnight = Over-one-and-a-bit-years

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Blatant Plug


I know – the last time BATDIG part 1 was free on Amazon, you thought “I won’t have it now, that Sayer bloke probably won’t write part 2 anyway…” And you were almost right.

But, against your expectations, part 2 is out now, so why not dip into part 1 for free, gratis, dim arian and see how you get on?

You want to know what BATDIG is, don’t you? Of course you do!!

BATDIG part 1: available FREE from 30 May until 3 June in the Amazon Kindle store


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Now I’m 51


Well, now I feel like a real writer! After 5 days of my first novel being free to Amazon users (almost) everywhere, I have discovered that my fear was unfounded. It turns out I have written a book that you CAN give away!

A couple of days ago, I looked to see if there were any comments about BATDIG on Amazon and noticed that in the UK, the book reached the dizzy heights of #51 in the Science Fiction/Crime and Thrillers category. Within a couple of hours, it was falling down and now the position in that chart isn’t even showing. But out of all the books on Amazon, the book has surged to #44, 527. Does that position make me feel like a real writer? You bet!

It’s odd how these sorts of numbers affect humans – something purely digital influencing something so inherently analogue. It is maybe a testament to why humans have evolved the way they have: the ability to quantify everything so that, even if the method of quantification is arbitrary, the result is deeply meaningful.

So, are words under threat from the relentless march of numbers? After all, in this age of internet-connected lives, the only two words that carry weight are numbers: one and nought. They create the world we inhabit now.

Well, no words are fine. It’s all very well digitizing everything in sight but at some point, you need to convert it back. The universe isn’t really made up of ones and zeroes (probably). Indeed, if quantum physics is anything to go by, the universe is made up of ideas and experiments and strangeness. Just how I like my universes!

The debate about whether e-books will replace the printed word will no doubt continue until either someone develops batteries you can grow or we run out of space to put trees, books and e-readers (I am scared to think about the outcome of that!) or nobody reads anything anymore because stuff is beamed directly into our left parietal lobe. I think that e-books will mean that more people will have the opportunity to read and that has to be a good thing on balance.

Numbers and words are really just opposite sides of the same coin. At their heart, they are both about ideas. If you wholly embrace one, you have to at least acknowledge the role of the other. So, as much as writing and publishing BATDIG was an exciting thing to do, so was seeing that number – 51 – next to it on Amazon the other day.

And some more numbers to do with words that thrilled and amazed me too – over 5 days of giving away BATDIG, 133 people downloaded copies. Thank you one and all! I only hope you enjoy the words I wrote as much as I enjoyed seeing the numbers you added to.

Categories: BATDIG, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free BATDIG for all!

Available NOW!

Just a very quick post to say BATDIG part 1 is now free for five days (until midnight on the 26th June 2012, in fact) on Amazon – I have checked the site and there it is, in all its free glory but .com doesn’t seem to have caught up just yet. Apparently it can take hours for the various sites to show the promotion after the start date. And I thought technology was fast…

There’ll be another ‘proper’ post in a day or so – work and rain* are taking up my time at the moment. I also have the Stephen King book “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft” that I want to read now as it is apparently an excellent guide to writing amongst other things.

OK, advert over.


* We have new chickens that need to be separated from the old chickens but we have had so much rain that the old chickens can’t be let out for fear that they will float away (well, drown in the puddles. Sadly chickens are that stupid.). So we have had to construct an extra living space that can accommodate two chickens but be separate from the others, all in wind and rain. Maybe I’ll turn the whole thing into a novel…

Categories: BATDIG, Writing | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at