Sunday, March 15, 2009

The TANSTAAFL Principle at Work

Once upon a time, there were aspiring fantasy artists trying to get noticed and move their careers forward. Then along came a book publisher specializing in Fantasy Art Books who would publish their work and "give them credit" in the book in return! Wow! Free advertising! Sound's great doesn't it? Except for the TANSTAAFL principle. Because the book publisher is selling your art and you're not getting a penny, not one dime, for the thousands or even millions of books sold. But the publisher IS. Please don't give away your art, it's what keeps starving artists starving.

I'm bringing this up because I just got an email asking me for that very thing. I KNOW this publishers from years of talking to other artists, and the artists never see a dime. Here is the email received and my response. Guess what? The person sending this email is getting paid, but the artist's will not be.

Dear Beth

I am writing to you on behalf of the editors of a forthcoming book, The Fantasy Art Bible, which is due to be published by Quarto Plc in the Fall 2009.

I have a letter prepared by Quarto containing details of the book and their request. May I send it to you please?

with kind regards

(Name Withheld)

Dear (Name Withheld),

I've heard all about Quarto and I know that they don't pay the artists for the Art Books that they create, sell, and pocket money for. I'm a fine artist and I don't give my art away for other people to profit off of. As an Empath and a Healer, I'm always astounded that people are involved in stealing the dreams of artists who have already sacrificed so much of their time and energy just to create the work itself.

Then comes Quarto to make the innocent believe that by being published in a book will make their work more authentic or find a wider market, and that they should be honored just to be included. It doesn't work that way. It's a hateful and abusive business that you're in, and if you don't change your life and leave the company, may Karma come back to bite you in the ass. In the immortal words of Isaac Asimov "There Ain't Know Such Thing as a Free Lunch" so please take me off of your contact list.

Beth Hansen-Buth

As you can tell, I feel pretty strongly about this situation. Please do not give up your power, even if a more famous artist out there does. While I withheld the name of the person who wrote to me, Quarto is the publisher in question and should be avoided by all artists like the plague. They are making a profit at your expense. So don't fall for their song and dance and give them access to your talent. You don't need it. This is really just a Con to get something for nothing, from artists who can least afford it.


Simon said...

This post reminds me of movie credits. It used to be people walked out of the movie when the end credits started rolling, because there wasn't anything more to see, and I guess replaying the movie score wasn't interesting enough.
Then movies started adding little visual things to the credits, and often a little something after.
(Aside: The computer game _Fable_ did something like this too...)
So now people stay to see if there's anything after the movie. But are they reading the credits? When has it mattered whether they do?
They saw the movie. That's what they came for. They got it, there's nothing left for them.
Credits need to be shown to people who are looking for credits. But who are they?

Meredith said...

I read the credits :)

It's kind of sad they're been able to keep working like that for years and of course I've been in their books. Can't really judge what exposure I got, and maybe it was good when starting out. Now I have my own book which might have been the result of one of those.