A recent event in the music business caused me to take brief pause in my writing. Singer/songwriter Paul Simon is quitting the business. Now, I’m not the hugest of Paul Simon fans. I do like his music, and his impact on folk rock history is solidified. It’s the reason why he’s quitting that has me, as an artist, very worried.
Paul just released his 13th solo album. He states in interviews that he worked extremely hard on the songs and he thinks they are some of his best. But as the “drop” date neared, something horrible and unexpected happened. The entire album was already on the internet for free! All the hard work Paul put into the music was now available without cost to anyone who wanted to listen. You can imagine Paul’s disappointment and his feelings of “why bother doing it anymore?”. As an artist, I understand the creative urge and the inner desire and addiction to produce. The intensity can be all-consuming at times. I myself have recently come upon profound shock and disappointment.
At this post, I have written thirteen novels, eleven of which are published through Amazon. Four have hit #1 in their genres. One book, DROP OUT, even broke the top 100 in the entire Amazon store. You would think I’d be extremely proud of these accomplishments since the average indie author sells less than fifty copies, and I am… I am also saddened by what I discovered. I have become the Paul Simon of writers.
My books have been pirated. Over the last year, I’ve watched my sales slow and my royalties lessen. I’m not ignorant of the business, I know a book has only so much life in it, but when my KENP pages also began to dry up, I did a little research. With some internet digging, and ignoring the Google unsecure site warnings, anyone can now download my books in PDF for free. It was a shock at first, seeing my books in document form available to anyone with an internet device, but then the depressing reality sunk in. The notion of writing as a livable profession, like nearly every other art form, is going to disappear.
What can be done? I don’t see a solution. Encryption will only be hacked. Mass sharing of material will be the norm. A reader need only type a title into a search engine and the book will appear for them to read. It’s happened to music. It’s happened to photography. It’s happening to every art form. It’s a devastating blow to those of us who have spent decades perfecting our talents.
As a serious, obsessed, compulsive writer, I can only swim with the storm and continue to do what I do best. Nothing can stop the future and technology from advancing and changing our way of life. Art as a paying profession is dying. Unlike Paul Simon and his music, I am not going to quit writing… I can’t! But the dream of continued fame and fortune grows fainter as the time spent writing becomes more of a novelty and not a serious form of expression and escapism.