09/02/2010 05:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: Giving it Away for Free

In the last week, I have been asked three times to give away significant amounts of my time and expertise to people who are putting on programs or putting together materials for a good cause. In two out of the three cases, the people asking were actually fairly rude and demanding about what they wanted from me. And by the third request-- which came this morning -- I snapped.

Why is it that so many people think authors can give away so much of their time for free? Where do they suppose we get the books that they ask us to donate? How do they expect us to fund the time that it takes to prepare for their event, to get to their event, to perform at their event? It's the craziest thing! I would never ask my dentist to work for free, or my lawyer, or my hairdresser, and yet people seem to think that it's part of an author's job to do programs and events for free. Maybe they mistake all authors for best-selling authors. Maybe they think that because Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling make so much money, all authors are raking in the dough.

I like it that people want me to show up. I think it's wonderful that they think I have something to offer. I appreciate that they are trying to support worthy causes.

But for the foreseeable future? I'm saying no. I am, after all, trying to write a novel....