IVP - Andy Unedited - How to Kill Off Writing

October 29, 2013

How to Kill Off Writing

What's the best way to hurt the local agriculture market in a country full of starving people? Indiscriminantly give away tons of free food. Relief organizations have learned the hard way that if they want to create a self-sustaining market of locally grown produce, they can't always bring in truckloads of rice from other countries.

What's the best way to kill of newspapers? Give away the news for free. Book publishers know this and have worked assiduously to avoid the same fate.

Tim Kreider money.jpgmakes a plea in a recent New York Times Op Ed for writers to stop listening to the same smooth, silky pitch, "They won't be paying you in money, man, because you're getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure." Yet if that exposure doesn't actually lead to income, what's the point?

"I've been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn't ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler," writes Kreider, "to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing."

Why can people get away with this? Kreider tells us it is because some people are willing to do it.

If we think it is valuable (and it is) to nurture a society with a bounty of quality, thoughtful, artful writers, neither can information be free (see here) nor can writing always be free. In select cases, it can be shrewd to give away some writing or sell it at a discount. But to recklessly do so all the time is self defeating.

At IVP we pay our authors and writers. We want to encourage them to do more. We have set up our business model to make this possible. It's a good thing for the author, for the reader, for the church and for society.

Hey, as part of my job here, they're even paying me to write this blog!


Posted by Andy Le Peau at October 29, 2013 10:46 AM Bookmark and Share


Hey man.... can I get paid to read this blog!!!??????

Comment by: Lou Quetel at October 29, 2013 10:36 PM

This is a very important truth that Christian writers (especially) need to hear. We are so eager to share the hope within us… that we leap into any and all opportunities, regardless of fair compensation.

It's one thing for people with adequate incomes who approach writing as an avocation... quite another for those who feel called to writing as their life's vocation.

Comment by: Rob Stroud at October 29, 2013 11:17 PM

Seems somewhat ironic that I got a notice for a free IVP e-book in my RSS feed today!
: )


Comment by: James at October 30, 2013 9:14 AM

Right, James. Like I said, "IIn select cases, it can be shrewd to give away some writing or sell it at a discount." Of course, IVP only gives away free e-books shrewdly. Never indiscriminantly. No, no, no.

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at October 30, 2013 9:43 AM

Now there's an enterprising idea!

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at October 30, 2013 9:44 AM

I agree, Rob. And I think it is especially important in countries where Christian publishing is in a fledgling state. If the country or language group is flooded with free material translated from other languages, then there is no incentive for developing indigenous writers and an infrastructure to support them. Ironically, such free literature can hurt the local church and retard its growth rather than help it.

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at October 30, 2013 9:47 AM

I lost the link to a fine response by an author who routinely is asked by developing (unpublished as yet) authors to read manuscripts, who says:

Don't ask me just to "look it over." If you don't offer to pay me for my time or ask what I'd charge to read your manuscript–instead working on my writing projects–don't expect me to read it for free.

Let's keep on compensating authors. Thanks for the post, Andy.

Comment by: Mike Karim at October 30, 2013 12:43 PM

Thanks, Mike. Yes, it's awkward, especially when dealing with friends. But it's also fair.

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at October 30, 2013 1:06 PM

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.