The Martian by Andy Weir, his first novel and soon to be a movie (click for trailer), was originally published on the author’s personal website without charge. You could read it free. That’s “free as in no money.”
At the request of his readers, he then made a Kindle version available for $0.99, the minimum Kindle would allow. This brought the novel to a much wider audience and as popularity continued to grow, he was approached by print (paper) publishers — I just finished reading the Broadway Books paperback edition from CostCo ($8.95) — and, ultimately, movie houses.
Somewhere along the way the “free” version was removed from his website — as the holder of the copyright, Andy would be perfectly within his rights to do so — and while this is pure speculation on my part, I dare say Kindle and his print publisher probably had some input in that regard. (I certainly would, were I them.)
Historically, traditional book publishers have stated that if you publish something on a website such as a blog, a short story or, as in this case, a full-blown novel, they aren’t interested because they can’t make a profit on otherwise “free” material.
That is no longer true.
Andy started that way, with a free version on his website, but he grew his work into print and now movie editions. I’m sure he’s being compensated (rewarded), and I hope it is handsomely. (The novel is absolutely top-notch!)
So hang in there bloggers and writers who post on websites. You may someday profit from your efforts.
I’ll be at the movie on opening day … and will gladly pay for my ticket!
A word about copyrights.
On your blog or website, include a statement of your copyright. While not legally required, for practical purposes it is a must.
If you examine my website http://www.flat5.net/, you’ll find a copyright notice in the header and again at the bottom. Those locations, how the copyright symbol (©) appears and the text that follows, are all as recommended and commonly practiced.
Should you someday determine that someone is using your material without your permission, you must take action. You don’t need a lawyer (yet) but you do need to contact the individuals responsible for using your work and tell them they are not allowed to do so. Tell them you hold the copyright to the material and that you have not granted them permission to use it. Tell them they must stop doing so immediately.
If you wish, you can then be gracious and grant that permission on the spot and, if you choose, without charge. It’s up to you.
I go one step further.
You can grant that permission with requirements such as, “You must say ‘reprinted by permission’ and you must provide a link to my website.”
That’s what I do. I have them include an attribution to me and a link to my website.
Finish off your communication with the formerly offending party by sending them a copy of the verbal agreement you’ve reached — email is fine — and then follow-up a few days later to make sure they make the changes they agreed to.
It’s your work. You own the rights to how it is used. You call the shots. It’s up to you. They must do what you say.
And remember that while it’s your material whether you include a copyright statement or not, you must still protect it.
Adding a copyright notice for the uninitiated is the first step.