AuthorTube Drama and the rise of #arcsarefree
**Originally featured on my Wordpress site 5/27/2019**
For several days I've been following the apparent debacle that is AuthorTube. Little background: Yes, it exists and yes, there is drama. I know a young writer who has been an avid follower of AT for quite some time and has mentioned it to me several times over the few years I've known her. Despite always saying I would check it out, I never did. That's me. Sometimes I lack follow through. Well, often I lack follow through.
Anyway, last week this writer posted about an indie author who has added ARCs to her Patreon page. Instantly my interest is piqued because...you guessed it, ARCs are free. To add it to a "perk" on your Patreon page means that you are, indeed, charging for something that 99% of other readers who receive ARCs do not have to pay for. So I checked it out; watched a bunch of AuthorTube videos, read a bunch of threads on Twitter, and even went to this author's Patreon page.
For those of you unaware, allow me to explain what these things are:
1) ARC - otherwise known as Advanced Reader Copy, these are books made available to a certain number of people in return (usually) for an honest review ahead of publication. Right now I am reading through an ARC that I was given a couple of months ago by a fellow WF writer. I didn't pay for this ARC. I have never paid for an ARC. I've heard some people refer to ARCs as copies of an unfinished book. This is incorrect. Unfinished manuscripts go to beta readers. ARCs are the finished product that will be published. When an author gives you an ARC they are giving you the version that will be released to the public. **edit 6/8/2019: The ARC is a very close version of what will be released to the public. Usually the interior content is completed but the cover or back copy may be incomplete. Learn more here **
2) Patreon - This is a place where you can support an artist you love by purchasing a monthly subscription. I first learned of this platform when I started listening to podcasts. The Black Tapes, Tanis, The Last Movie, Alice Isn't Dead, etc. all ask for listeners to support them on Patreon. I have a Patreon account, though I haven't made it active yet. There are often several different tiers of membership. In exchange you receive perks only available to people subscribing to that particular tier. You can learn more about Patreon here.
3) AuthorTube - I can't provide much information on this, as I am only vaguely familiar with it at this point. However, if you go to YouTube and type AuthorTube in the search you will find numerous videos posted by (mostly) young writers. These videos include how-to, opinion pieces, and other facets of the writing process. In theory this is a fantastic resource.
What I found when I began researching this issue is that the writer in question, the one charging (essentially) $150 for an ARC, seems to have a history of charging for things she doesn't really have the credentials to be charging for. She claims to be an international bestselling author, but this is based on Amazon's rating of her. I'm not knocking Amazon's rating system, but it does change hourly. Sometimes minutely (yes, my word). So to claim that you are an international bestseller based off of one hour on Amazon's charts is shaky, at best. But this woman is charging more than $300 for writing workshops presented by her. She's even reported to have been charging $3000 for a specialized writing course. This is a woman who is not traditionally published and has not been recognized by the top bestselling lists in the world. I'm not paying her $5.00 for writing advice, let alone $300 or $3000!
But here's the rub; she's targeting new writers, young writers, the baby writers who haven't yet cut their teeth. These are the writers that, so help me, still ask what plot is. I'm probably being dramatic, but you get what I'm saying. She's charismatic, she's pretty, and she censors undesirable questions and responses. This, to me, is someone very dangerous to the pocketbooks and wallets of young writers. Both young in age and experience.
I'm not trying to bash her; I don't know her, I haven't read her work, and I certainly haven't paid for her programs, but I do know that charging for an ARC is wrong and blocking individuals for asking questions shows that you (likely) know it's wrong.
Now, as you can imagine this drama has spilled over. Some of these writers are out for blood. I'm not saying they shouldn't be, but I am saying that it really is counterproductive to give someone a one-star review three months before the book is available for purchase. What this author did is wrong, it shows that she doesn't value her readers and that she feels (for whatever reason) elevated above the rest of us, but when we take cheap shots against work that hasn't even released yet, that we haven't even read, we show a level of pettiness no one should really be comfortable with.
I leave you with two things:
1. ARCs are FREE. Period.
2. Be better.
Also, If you have a couple of hours this forum on guru gossiper makes a very interesting read.
Take care and keep writing!