A Collaboration between Medium, Litographs (we make art from books) and science fiction author Cory Doctorow.

— Your Writing Prompt —

Why give away your work for free?

What do acclaimed authors Cory Doctorow, Paulo Coelho, Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Hugh Howey all have in common?

They give away their best work — for free.


The Writing Prompt: Over to You!

  • Tell us why you choose to give away your creative work for free. Or if you choose not to — what are your reasons?
  • What provoked you to start, or stop giving your creative work away?
  • Did you feel nervous before hitting publish? Has giving your work away led to serendipitous benefits?
  • Share your work! Attach a preview, include a design, embed a video, link to your project. Tell us about the gifts that you’ve put into the world.

Already have thoughts brewing? Fantastic! Skip to the end of this post and start writing your response. Otherwise keep reading for thoughts by Cory Doctorow, Seth Godin, Neil Gaiman and others…


Enter Cory Doctorow

“I’ve been giving away my books ever since my first novel came out, and boy has it ever made me a bunch of money…”

“When my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, was published by Tor Books in January 2003, I also put the entire electronic text of the novel on the Internet under a Creative Commons License that encouraged my readers to copy it far and wide. Within a day, there were 30,000 downloads from my site (and those downloaders were in turn free to make more copies).”

“My problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity, and free ebooks generate more sales than they displace.”

“Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’’t lost any sales, I’’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free e-book as a substitute for the printed book–those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the e-book as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales.

The thing about an e-book is that it’s a social object. It wants to be copied from friend to friend, transmitted between mobile devices, pasted into a mailing list. It begs to be converted to witty signatures at the bottom of e-mails. It is so fluid and intangible that it can spread itself over your whole life. Nothing sells books like a personal recommendation–when I worked in a bookstore, the sweetest words we could hear were “My friend suggested I pick up….”


“There has never been a time when more people were reading more words by more authors. I’d rather stake my future on a literature that people care about enough to steal than devote my life to a form that has no home in the dominant medium of the century.”

“The Internet is a literary world of written words. What a fine thing that is for writers.”
– Cory Doctorow

Here at Litographs we have collaborated with Cory to create this design entirely from the text of ‘Little Brother’. Learn more about that process here… or keep reading to find out how you can win one of these t-shirts for yourself.

Click on this image above to find more of Cory’s Little Brother totes and poster designs.

Below you will find more food for thought on the merits of giving things away shared by nine authors, entrepreneurs and photographers.

Explore Seth’s awesome free stuff & check out his Poke the Box Litograph design.
Grab the free 4-Hour Chef Audiobook bundle from Tim.
Explore Hugh’s free books here & check out his Litograph design for Sand.
Raid Neil’s treasure trove of Cool Stuff
Find the free e-pub versions of Paolo’s books.
Jeff’s Free guides on how to build an online audience.
Read Joshua’s free essays on minimalism
You may already be familiar with Matt’s open source blogging platform wordpress.org
Watch Chase’s free live-streamed Creative Live classes.

What have you given away for free?

Start writing your response below…

Once you have published your response, be sure to tweet starting with #IGiveAwayMyWorkBecause tagging @Litographs & @Doctorow.

Share your response far and wide. If it receives the most recommends by midnight PST on the 22nd July it will be also shared by @Medium @Litographs & @Doctorow. You’ll also be sent one of Cory’s t-shirts & some official Medium Swag!