Creative Commons, Free e-Books, and the New Author

 Posted by Edwin H Rydberg

I’ve recently started a new web site LightSpeedDreams.net. Originally I bought the domain name because I liked the sound of it, and I took some time to decide what content I wanted to put on it. Finally, I’ve decided to populate the site with content of mine that I will release under Creative Commons license making it freely available for use, modification, and commercial distribution, as long as I remain listed as one of the authors/creators. Among other things, this will include mp3s, selected artwork, and selected short stories and novels.

Why?

1. In some cases the content I release would be difficult or impossible to sell.

  • Cases of work with other creators who have okayed the release but then become unreachable
  • Content that was created jointly with the understanding that it would be freely available
  • Fan Fiction that cannot be distributed for profit

2. The content acts as a free sample of my work for prospective readers and publishers.

3. The most important reason, however, is summed up by Cory Doctorow in the forward to Little Brother (on why he releases all his books as free, drm-free e-books):

For me — for pretty much every writer — the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity (thanks to Tim O’Reilly for this great aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today, the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free copy.

So, no, people stealing your work to read is not a problem most new authors face. People never reading your work because they haven’t heard of you is. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position where I can release all my work for free online, after all, I am trying to start a career as an author and I’ve not heard of any traditional publishers who will take on an author with no unpublished content. I feel I’m doing the next best thing by releasing selected works for free. On one hand, I think of it as a small portfolio sample. On the other hand, a bit like releasing some grown-up children into the world to see what becomes of them.

So, I hope you check out LightSpeedDreams.net and sample, use, modify the content I’ve posted. And please, whatever you do with it, let me know! I love to hear how my work has been used, and I’ll help you advertise with blurbs on my various sites.

And check out science fiction author and digital rights expert Cory Doctorow’s site www.craphound.com. The forward to Little Brother (winner of several YA awards and shortlisted for several more) explains the Creative Commons ideas far better than I could, so why not download a free copy from him (and if you like it, buy the print version).