On Selling Something

The other day when I posted about A Mary Carol, I dropped in, oh-so-casually, that "It is available to purchase as a downloadable PDF for $10."

I agonized over that sentence and its ramifications.

A dear friend of mine feigned horror when she learned that I would be selling my script. After all, up to this point I've given my liturgical work away. I've shared hymns and my previous Christmas pageant skit for free, with only the request that as the author I receive proper credit.

The times that I have been paid for work that the reader must in turn pay for, as in my book and my essays for subscription-only publications, there was a middleman who did the dirty work of taking and dispersing money.

By choosing to sell my script, I am choosing to make it a commodity, not a gift. And there's some sadness in this. I don't get to experience the joy of giving. And far fewer churches will stage A Mary Carol, whereas many churches have adapted The Best Story.

On the other hand, by choosing to sell my script, I am claiming that it has value. There's something pretty powerful about that.

Furthermore, by choosing to self-publish, I'm eliminating the middleman. Or middlemen, as the case may be. When people click "Buy Now" (and people did click buy now!!!), they are paying me directly.

You want to know something astounding about the economy of publishing? The paltry fee that PayPal takes is roughly equivalent to the royalty I received for each copy of my book sold on Amazon.

So I'm selling something. I don't think this is selling out. I will continue feel a bit sheepish, but I will also continue to believe that good writing - that good art of any kind - has value, including monetary value.

And I will continue to get a kick out of watching my PayPal balance creep up.

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