This is a roundabout sort of thing, but bear with me.
Trollsmyth's post Capitalism, bitches! is itself a link to the author of the blog Hack & Slash, who has stated recently that he's giving up free publishing because he doesn't get enough appreciation for it. And that his documents have been downloaded thousands of times and the only license he uses is that if you use it for anything, he'd like it if you let him know so he can get paid in warm fuzzies instead of cash money.
It's one that leaves me with mixed feelings, to be totally honest.
Personally, I'd like to be able to get away with charging money for what I produce. But I'm in a rough spot. I'm not terribly experienced (decades of life compared to decades of experience is the sort of deficit I'm talking about- when a 20-something guy and a 50-something guy have both been DMing since they were 13, there's just a teensy bit of difference in the meaning), I don't have art, and, well, I don't want to charge any money. The stage I'm at with my products, I'm happier trying what works and doing what I can. Think of it as my portfolio, if you like. These things that get produced are experiments in design and in content. I'd always wondered if I could make my own Player's Guide, so I did. I'd always wondered what it would be like to make my own adventure, so I did. (My long-coming second module Dark Skies Above Us, will probably never be finished since I formatted my computer and seriously didn't think about it until right now).
But on the other hand, what sort of need for attention is this? If the entire reason I was publishing things was to get attention from other people, I'd quit right now. It's probably hard to imagine, but shit- ideas won't stop coming. Some days I'm like a fire hose of stuff, constantly thinking about barbarians and theives and wizards and dragons and monsters and stuff and wouldn't it be cool if instead of having wizards, we had shamans and all their magic was spirit-y and they could totally shapeshift and by the way this game is sort of polynesian and the fighters are all wearing loincloths and using boomerangs and long knives and yeah, I know that the boomerang is austrialian, but it's a cool image, right? And so the adventuring party is in this deep cave and there are these lizardmen and they're all like "the deep one comes to swallow you all whole!" and the party doesn't care until the cave starts filling up with water and what the hell do they do?
Seriously, a fire hose.
So on one side, I'm sorry that he's been embittered to charge money for his products, or has lost the joy of flinging one's ideas into the careless void because ideas are meant to be spread. On the other hand, I'm glad that he's gonna make a little bit of money on the side for his efforts- there's no reason not to get paid for one's time, and I hope without the slightest trace of irony that he becomes extremely successful. Or at least can pay the bills with it.
Best of luck!
EDITED: Goodness, I didn't even give this post a title. How sloppy. ;)
01 May 2011
To Sell or Not To Sell: Is that the Question?
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Don't misunderstand - the reason I produce the .pdf's was primarily for use in my own campaigns. I shared them out of a sense of community and goodwill.
I'm not embittered, I had been thinking about this for a while. Honestly, it was when I sort of noticed that all the big blogs charge at least a little for anything they produce. I felt that I was devaluing my own work by not charging for things.
I did ask that people comment on my work, and I did get some very nice comments. But when that's all I ask and I was getting a .01% response rate, I decided that clearly there's an interest for what I do, and I have no way to "enforce" feedback or community involvement.
It's a short shift from there, to charging.
First, I will always release some part of stuff for free, and keep whatever I've made free forever.
Second, I'm still producing and writing about the same rate as I always did - I'm not going into business as an "RPG publisher" I'm just going to ask a small pittance for people to get my stuff. I figure if 1% buy, I'll be a hundredaire. :-) My blog and content are not going to disappear just because I'm going to charge instead of release stuff for free.