Of the many labels I choose for myself author is among the most prominent. The joy of having something that I created read and enjoyed by others is one of life’s greatest pleasures for me. I’ve written several novels, still in draft form, that will eventually see the light of day. Like many authors I’ve sent query letters, researched the market, and got a fair number of rejection letters. But as my love of the free software and free culture movements grew my desire to submit my work to a traditional publisher waned.
In the traditional model you often hand over copyright to the publisher, especially as a new author, and are bound to release your work as All Rights Reserved. This runs counter to the ideals that I had grown to respect and enjoy which seems to leave me at a sort of crossroads. Down one road lies economic success and down the other road lies freedom. This does not necessarily have to be the case though and I am going to work towards the goal of having both.
I am polishing up one of my novels to be published within this academic year but rather than go the traditional route and give up my copyright I intend to release the book here on my website for free (gratis) under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. Additionally I will be self publishing e-books and print-on-demand hard copies for purchase (still under the CC-BY-SA license). In this way I can give my readers the freedoms they deserve while still making some money off of it.
I’m not sure how feasible this is as a long term plan but since I’m in graduate school right now and its not my primary way of making a living it can serve as a good experiment. I know I’m not the first author to offer their book for free nor am I the first to use a copyleft license. This isn’t even the first time that I’ve given away my works for free. You can find links to my works on the Internet Archive in my projects page.