Sunday, June 28, 2009

Paying in Caesar's Coin

There's a hidden perk to self publishing, one that some authors probably don't dig, but that I find very satisfying: being paid in kind. I suppose your feelings about it depend on whether you're trying to pay your bills with your writing or not. That would be nice, but I generally consider my print run a success once I've sold enough books for it to pay for itself. Because let's face it: having to pay to be published just doesn't cut it.

But back to my point. I love trading a book that I've essentially (with the help of a printer, and a few very, very, kind and talented friends) made from the ground up for things other than cash. I've traded for other books, for self produced music discs, homemade art, delicious lunches, even knowledge (it's hard to find in good condition).

This last week brought me something different in that the trade I took for one of my books (Carnival of Vulgarities) was once cash. Seventeen centuries ago, give or take. Yep, an antique Roman coin from around the time of Constantine (I think the portrait is one of his sons, but while it's in good enough shape to be extremely cool, most of the writing is pretty worn down). It's the oldest thing I've ever held in my hands, beating the book in my earlier post by about twelve hundred years. How could I say no to a trade like that? In a very real way, experiences like this are much better than signing a deal with a publisher. Cash is fleeting, very fleeting, but it's this sort of sharing that makes the task of writing worth doing.

Do you think FSG would pay me in denarii?

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