E book – an evolutionary step or a fork in the story road?

taking a walk around my neighbourhood in Prague one windy day last week, I found myself reflecting upon the online month long self destructing launch of my first self-published E book, Greylands, in the light of the sales figures I had just rounded up for the first time.

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the launch took place late last year and the story of my decision to self publish the out of print Greylands as an E book is reasonably well known.

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why did I do it?

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i wanted to see what it would take in time and money, in expertise and stress to turn a print book into an Ebook. I wanted to find out if it was inevitable that the layouts of E books were so lousy. I wanted to find out if it was mind bogglingly time consuming or hideously expensive or requiring stunningly difficult technological knowhow. I wanted to see if I could believe that Ebooks really were taking off as all the hype suggested, and were destined to make print books (libraries, book shops, book buses, book sellers, bookshelves) obsolete. 

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or not…

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if you don’t know the back story, I invite you to delve into the virtual cellar of this blog and dust off the archived Greylands Launch site with its thirty fantastic essays about E books by book folk ranging from writers to publishers, editors, artists, book shop owners, teachers, government people, journalists, kids … well, you name it.  The list of essayists is a who’s who of publishing.

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the point is that everyone HAD an opinion, and the essays and the sometimes feisty discussions unfolding under them contain a wealth of information about all aspects of E book publishing and anyone wanting to know how to put up an E book, could do no better than to read through the essays and their discussion threads. In truth, I was damned proud of what I had pulled together – a worthy, useful offering- not just empty fluff or puff, which is what a lot of hype is, when you strip off the razzle dazzle.

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as a result of my experiment, I learned a lot. In the first place, exactly how to do turn a ‘real’ book into an Ebook .

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 the actual business of putting turning an out of print paper book into an Ebook was difficult to begin with, because I am a Luddite with a dislike of having to learn new technology. I had to get over this reluctance to engage, and believe me, it was not easy. For people who are cyber savvy, it will not be difficult. For people like me, I want to reassure you that it is just possible.

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step one  was to  scan the book, since I no longer has a file of the out of print text. Lacking a scanner, and knowing something better would be required than the ones my friends had, I had my PA find a service. It did not take her long to track one down. The scanning was done by a company called Advance Record Management, in Corio, and the cost was $75  and one of my last remaining print copies of the book, because the process would destroy it. The last few copies I had, had been handed over when the book was optioned a while back. (That is something no one tells you, either- that if the book is optioned, the people optioning it are going to want a few copies. Another wise thing to do is to keep a final copy of the book on file, in case someone wants to option it or reprint it or turn it into an Ebook or a graphic novel-  no one tells you that, either)

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 i corrected the scanned file using my a borrowed print copy, taking in the mistakes my PA and a helpful fan had found on their read through of the scanned version.  The more eyes the better because everyone misses something and scanning introduced a multitude of mistakes, some of which could be fixed with a global change and some that could only be found by plodding  through the whole thing the hard way. The worst are mistakes were those that turned one word into another, sbecause they could not be picked up by a spell check. Once I was satisfied , I sent the file to a guy in India called Paul, whose written English in his response to my inquiry had been alarmingly idiosyncratic. But he had been recommended to me by the owner of a small and very good independent publishing house that had used him, and he was cheap. Only $45 to convert the word file into mobi and epub files.

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crossing over the river on one of the many bridges spanning the Vltava, a slight wind whipping my hair into my face, I note how easily I now think in these terms which were such a mystery to me at the start of this process:  mobi, epub, conversion. Learning about a process is learning a language that enables you to think more clearly about it.

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after an exchange of emails, Indian Paul agreed to make any corrections I wanted at no additional cost.   I might have managed the conversion myself- everyone told me so, and I had actually started the process, but for me it was astoundingly time consuming, hence the decision to  delegate.  Once Indian Paul had completed his conversion, I read though the file and sent a list of corrections, which he duly fixed. That was all very simple and smooth. In fact ironically, the hardest thing was to find a way to pay him – we finally managed it using Paypal, however the payment was never collected, so it reverted to me. My PA is still trying to figure out how to pay him.

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so, I had learned it was doable, and not too expensive to delegate some of the aspects I would find difficult or loathsome.  In fact,I later realised it could be costless and simpler still if you had the word file of an unpublished ms. More on that later.  For a self publisher, there could be no more money involved in putting up an Ebook than the cost of a good editor  which only a fool would eschew.

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having got the corrected epub and mobi files back from Indian Paul,  I got a kindle to test the download on- it being the cheapest kind of Ereader available and apparently simple to operate.  In fact, I requested it for Christmas, so it cost me nothing. Having got the kindle, I then had to set up an account with Amazon, so that I could enroll myself in Kindle Direct. I managed this without too much pain on Christmas day, and managed to download some books.  The immediacy and ease of bookbuying, and the cheapness of the books thrilled me.  I was in the middle of a binge of downloading when it struck me that this was what everyone who had got a kindle or an ipad or a kobo was doing. I wondered if, like me, most of what they were downloading were copies of beloved books I own, that I was elated to have in a form that I could keep with me at all times.

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i know now, though I did not know it then, that some reading devices require an E pub file and some require a mobi.  At that point I was annoyed to realise that I could not download my own books.  This may sound narcissistic, but in fact I wanted to have with with me to check things while I was working on the final book.   Turned out Penguin only had Epub files that worked on Kobo, with whom they seemed to have had some kind of deal. I was really annoyed at this and not backward in saying so, but these days many of my books are also now on Kindle.

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having uploaded the mobi file, which is the format Amazon requires, I learned that  needed a cover. I asked my partner, Jan Stolba, who is a very fine photographer (indeed all of the photos in today’s blog are his) and has done record and cd cover graphics, to make me a book cover for Greylands. He made four, which we finally narrowed down to one. We then uploaded it and various other required details.  I did not yet make it available. Having gone to all that trouble, I wanted to build some interest in the release. To this end I had a trailer made by Alchemedia, figuring the expense would be worth it. ( You can see the trailer with its original sound track in the archive.) Another generous and savvy friend offered kindly to build me a month-long launch site and manage it for me. I was incredibly grateful for her offer which ended up with her  basically spending a month of her life outside of a demanding day job, watch-dogging the launch. (One of the best things about that month was her companionship throughout- writing is such a bloody lonely business)  Looking for something to keep people coming back for the month, I asked  friends and colleagues for essays on The Ebook Evolution, which I called a debate, to ensure the pieces would be punchy. I had my personal assistant gathering them all and chasing them for pics and images, while I edited the essays and fielded any rewrites, and turned bio material into personal and anecdotal intros that I thought were the least I could do for them. I was touched and amazed by the depth of the essays and with the work and care people put into them,and into monitoring the site and interacting with readers, once their pieces went up. 

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i had almost all of the essays and bios ready to go before the launch site went live, and the month long launch was wildly successful if it can be judged based on how many people visited and revisited and how many people tweeted about it and reviewed it and commented, day after day, as each new essay went up. (You can read all of the comments under the essays, in the archived version.) And there was a very gratifying dismay when people realised that I really meant it when I said the site would vanish at the end of the month.

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of course you would not be able to run such a launch every time you launched an E book- way too time consuming and too much calling in of favors, for an uncertain return. That was a once only kind of effort, because it was an experiment.  But perhaps if I had launched a new book, which had never seen a print life, it might have stirred up enough interest in people who like my writing for me not to need such an effort. But how would they hear about it? Tweeting?  Facebook? Mass emails?  An ad? Suffice it to say that I do not want to publicize and promote my own books. I want to spend my time writing. That was not something I confirmed so much as reconfirmed for myself.

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 i had launched Greylands one third of the way through the month of July in 2012 on Amazon as an Ebook at $5.99. A couple of weeks later, with the help of two savvy friends, I also put it up on Book.ish and Smashwords. I put it up on Amazon alone, and on Smashwords with the help of a friend (discovering in the process that with this site, I had only to load up a word file, and the site would grind it out in mobi and in epub files- so no Indian Paul was needed for a conversion – mind you, there would be no one to correct the file, either)  But I had trouble and am still having trouble loading up the correct cover image size, for the Smashwords site to sell the book on its premium list. But it was pretty easy to follow the prompts wto upload book and a cover. One of the people behind Book.ish, put it up for me on this site, using the word file I sent, so it cost me no effort but a very tiny cut of the $5.99 that will ( or won’t) be made per book.

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 Amazon was the hardest to upload a book to, but this may be because I did it myself, and knew nothing. I did not manage, however, to get the notoriously elusive US tax exemption, so I pay a whopping 46% tax.  I am told I can claim this, somehow. I will try that, in due course and I will try again to get the exemption. But it is so very time-consuming to prepare an application that one can’t help but feel that its sole purpose is to provide serious discouragement.

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 my feeling at the end of the launch month was that the best thing about publishing Greylands as an E book, other than the fantastic and vigorous online debate about Ebooks, was that the process stirred up a whole lot of renewed interest in the book. It was re reviewed all over again- you can read both the old reviews from when it first came out, and the new ones from its re release, in the archive. It was again optioned  for a movie, the older option having lapsed, and it was even turned into a ‘real’ book again by the small but vigorous independent publishing house, Ford Street. I announced this at the end of the launch month, and just recently, I recorded Greylands with Bolinda as an audio book.  I am pretty sure that none of these things would have happened, if I had not taken steps to re released the book.

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i am now in the labyrinth of streets around the old town, and every now and then, I see  the river.  Eventually I walk along the riverbank, thinking to take a look at the site where a gas explosion occurred a few days earlier, injuring more than 40people and smashing the windows out of a lot of buildings. It seems slightly creepy that my daughter and I went to try out our first yoga class just a few doors away from the site of the explosion a couple of days earlier.

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there are a few swans gliding along on the grey water, and I wonder if it is true that swans mate for life. If wolves do, and how we know that. I see a man fishing and wonder if he will eat what he catches; if there is anything to catch. As always, I try to imagine what this city would look like, if I went back in time to when there was no city here.

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 ‘May day is a day honoring workers,’ someone says, passing me. ‘…jako party’ someone else says to a man pushing a pram.

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i see a girl sitting on a chair facing the water. She is eating buchty and reading on her ipad. My mind shifts inward. I think about the site a friend alerted me to, where all of my books are available as free downloads. I went to the site and looked.  I downloaded a book to see how it worked.  It was easy and the book is whole and perfect. I had known from people more concerned and alert that many of my books were available on dozens of pirate sites. Every other minute it seemed someone was emailing me about another one. To begin with, it all seemed so ephemeral that it was hard to get upset over it.  I didn’t feel much of anything, really. But for some reason, seeing all my books, even the latest, downloadable, it finally hit home that there was a direct connection between the pirates and the drop in my income. The scary thing is that a publisher will act to have your book taken down as soon as you let them know about a pirate site, but the sites are like hydra heads. The minute you chop one down, there are more springing up. It DOES puzzle me a bit why someone would actually bother to set up a pirate website- what do they get out of it, after all, if the downloads are free? But whatever the reason, quite honestly, I can’t see how it is ever going to be stopped. Certainly the current slamming the gate after the horse has bolted method of takedowns when somehow reports a pirate is not going to do it.  Most likely it will be a technical fix- someone will figure out how to make it so a book cannot be read other than on the device for which it has been purchased, or on a device licensed to a certain purchaser.Which makes an Ebook even less flexible in one way, than it is right now. Certainly you can’t hand it to a friend to read- you can buy them a copy for their kindle or ipad, or lend them your whole device, but then what are YOU going to read?

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but- if E books are destined to be the only form of book available on the evolutionary reading road, as some suggest, why would anyone bother to pay when they can download a freebie? Which means that, unable to make a living, all writers will become part timers who do it for love and ONLY for love. I would still write, and so would a lot of people.  But a lot would stop, and some of those might be writers we would be sorry to lose. Some might say that writers should write for love and not for money.  Then real literature will return in the void left by  books written for money, which will blow away like so many dead leaves.

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speaking of money, what did  I make for the Ebook of Greylands on those sites? Breaking the  taboo that stops writers talking about what they earn (mostly because it is so little that they feel ashamed)  this is what I have sold:

Book.ish

 I earned $50, which is about 8 books.

Smashwords

 3 sold to date-  (but 60 downloads of the freebie sample)

 Total  earnings,  $14.07

 Amazon

 I sold 106 books at 70% of $5.99

I can be a little more specific and break the figures down month by month with Amazon, because of the way the Kindle Direct site works). So, the sales were as follows:

2013

4 sold in April

 4 sold March

 9 sold in February

 19 sold in January

 2012

 9 sold in December

 9 sold in November

 14 sold in October

 9 sold in September

 13 sold in August

 14 sold in July (it came out halfway through the month )

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keep in mind that this is a book that had a good healthy life in its first incarnation from Penguin, so a lot of people who read me, had already read it. But the interesting thing is the way it has continued to sell.  And note the hike in January sales – my guess: people got Kindles and ipads as gifts and some of them did what I had done, having a binge.

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am I disappointed?  Not at all. Because this is a book that had a good life, and this was an experiment from which I learned a lot. Besides, the whole business stirred up enough interest that Greylands was optioned again and turned into a print book and into an audio book. 

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will I do it again? Most likely not. Because it did not earn enough money for me to want to bother.  I would rather let the publishers do it, and take advantage of their ability to publicise me.  Nor did it earn enough to tempt me to into turning a new and unpublished book into an Ebook. Not unless my publishers fail me spectacularly or refuse a book or drop me from their list altogether. In which case of course I would do it. What I will do, however, is to ensure in future contracts, that my print rights are tied to Ebook rights, so that both will revert to me at some point, when sales fall under a certain amount or when the book it out of traditional print. Another possibility, and it seems the publishers are open to it, is to ask for the print rights to revert when the book goes out of print in its traditional form, but leave the Ebook rights with them.

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because, with several months less time for sales than the Ebook r, the Ford street re print, distributed by Pan Macmillan, sold over 900 books! (Just as an aside,  Green Money Dreams, also re released by Allen and Unwin with a gorgeous new cover, sold even more books than Greylands and was also reviewed widely all over again.  So clearly it is possible for a book to achieve a second, if modest incarnation, as a traditional reprint. Aside from all else, my experience shows that there is more certainty of income from this source than from uploading the book as an Ebook..)

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 so, there are the figures, and my conclusions to date.  I resolve, as police turn me away from Narodni Trida where there is still rubble being cleared, to revisit the figures in a year, to see what they tell me.  I make my way down some stone steps and walk back along the river, wondering what sort of food is served in these floating beer pubs.  The ide of eating or drinking on a boat is romantic, but somehow I am never enticed. The wind is stronger now and whips the water into the occasional white frill. I wonder how rough the river would be, without the locks.

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i think how, at Bologna this year, the hype about Ebooks was bigger than ever. There was an enormous E book cafe where there had once been a film rights centre, that now shifted upstairs. Everyone on the Australian stand moaned about the noise from the nearby overbearingly nationalistic China stand, and beyond that, at the endless droning of presenters in the Ebook cafe, offering their thoughts and ideas and products.  I wandered up to listen to a few of the talks, but where last year I had felt vaguely excited by the E book stir, this year it sounded like empty rhetoric, and yet you could smell money in the air, or the hunger for it, anyway. It seemed to me people were saying the same things over and over, and that there had been said last year. And again, I saw nothing that excited me as a writer- nothing that I thought could help me tell a story better. Nothing that I wanted between my words and a reader’s imagination. All the enhanced stuff seemed like so much distraction. Walking against the tide, which seems to be flowing more swiftly as rain begins to fall again, I open my umbrella and think that perhaps the Ebook evolution is really a storm whipped up by people with money- not publishers or writers or editors or bookshops, but the money people behind the techs that invented all the expensive, shiny devices with all of their add ons and cool accessories. Perhaps what is driving this whole Ebook revolution is not the hunger of readers for new and better ways to read, but the need for the companies like Apple and Kobo and Amazon for substance to give purpose and reason  and soul to all that expensive hardware.

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the trouble is – the beauty is- that this soul and substance, this ephemeral, mysterious matter that comes from creators, no matter how hard the money men wish it, cannot be produced as if it were easily packaged boxes of Wheaties. Nor can it be sold to readers in that way.  (The fall of chain after chain proved that- great individual bookstores fell because someone far away decreed certain books were to be sold from all of the stores, regardless of the idiosyncrasies of different readers, different communities)

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as I jump on a packed tram to escape the blustering storm that has blown up, rain smearing the windows so the castle looming over the city seems to melt, I think of something someone said to me decades ago, when I was a young journalist  interviewing an educator of teachers. He was talking about computers and the perception that teachers had to learn how to use them and schools had to buy them and make students learn how to use them, because they were the future.  He said that this perception was a self perpetuating prophecy; that believing in and acting on it would bring it to pass. ‘The reality is that a gifted teacher could use an aardvark as a teaching aid, and teach brilliantly.  The computer is only a tool. Someone has to do something with it, to give it value and purpose.

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12 Responses

    1. Bec says:

      Thanks for sharing this!

      I’ve recently experimented with self-publishing – I started in late January and just passed 300 sales, which I am thrilled with, for a little novella from a total unknown.

      The thing I find hardest is the self-promotion. I’m just not all that comfortable with the whole HEY LOOK AT ME! side of things. If I just leave the book alone, then it might get a sale every day or two or three (it’s priced lower than yours, $2.99, so a bit more in the impulse buy zone), but if I throw some attention at it and promote then I get a flurry of sales, move up the ranks, then sink again 🙂 (E.g. I just had a sale, where I reduced the price to $0.99, ran an ad for $10 with an email list – they announce bargain books to their subscribers, and then sold 60 copies in 24 hours. At 99c, I’m not exactly making much money, but more readers makes me happy 🙂

      As to the pesky US tax thing… I put it off for awhile, but now kicking myself when I got my first payment and missing 30%! But I finally did it, and it wasn’t very hard – the trick is to get an EIN, not an ITIN. The ITIN causes the headaches. For the EIN, you just need to make one phone call to the IRS, or if you hate phones like me, then you can fill out a one page form and fax it to them. I got my EIN faxed back to me a week later, and now I don’t give a foreign government 30% of my money.

      This link is a little old, but I think it’s still accurate: http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/

      • interesting, Bec. I see that I might do better if I put in some effort. I was told over and over by friends who have done it, to make it free for a week and all sorts of things such as dropping the price and letting it be ‘loaned’ for a period, but somehow it seemed like one effort too many, and then, like you, I find the look-at-ome thing hard to do. But the EIN /ITIN thing suggestion is very interesting- I will ask my PA to try it again and I might even drop the price to see what happens…

    2. […] part of this post, I just want to draw your attention to a new blog post by Isobelle Carmody: Ebook an Evolutionary Step or a Fork in the Story Road? which has a really clever title. After my own ebook post I found her post most enlightening. As I […]

      • Your comments and the Ebook post were interesting, Daniel. And tanks for letting people know about the archived launch site. I did have one thought reading your post, though not specifically in response to it. A lot of people are writing to me or tweeting generally in the states, seeking copies of The Sending, which Random are publishing only as a E book, and which as far as I understand, blocks my Oz publishers from being able to sell the books in print form there. I think this is because originally the contract signed with Random was for both print and Ebook form, and it was their decision not to offer it as a print book. That is something I will seek to redress when I am signing another contract. If a publisher chooses only to offer the books in E form, then I must have the right and the option to try to have them published in print form as well.

      • Daniel says:

        I’m more than glad to promote the archived launch site, there were some really great discussions there!

        It is quite unfortunate that in such a globalised society, it’s still hard to get a book from the other side of the world. For outside of Australia, the shipping costs seem monstrous from what I’ve heard to get The Sending, and most can’t afford to get the book shipped out from an Australian publisher. Though, somehow, shipping is miraculously free if you are sending it to Australia through some companies…

        It’s just a shame that Random House didn’t publish it as a physical book. And it’s even worse that they still have the rights, even though they aren’t offering it as a print book, something definitely to look at with another contract! It’s your book, so you should have much more control on how and where it is published, but, alas, this is the way book publishing looks like it works. Maybe one day, we’ll get something right, and you can easily get any book you want, wherever you are, and whatever publisher has the rights.

    3. Min says:

      Lovely, interesting post. A couple of things I thought of from it:

      – There is no way to stop piracy or illegal file sharing – the hydra analogy is incredibly apt. The moment any regulations or deterrents come in, people find ways to bypass them all, under the excuse of ‘free information for everybody’. Those who want to pirate will always be able to pirate.
      But, I believe piracy can be minimalised, by making it far easier to buy the legitimate product (whether it be book, software, tv show, etc). Look at iTunes – once upon a time people were pirating music left, right and centre – now iTunes has made incredibly quick and easy to buy music legitimately. It is now ‘too hard’ to pirate music, at least in my opinion, because it takes longer to find, convert and listen to. The same will happen with publishing to be sure. As it stands right now, I prefer the service Booki.sh offers over Amazon’s (or even direct through Penguin’s website) – recently went through the process of buying The Sending eBook on both – and Booki.sh is just so much easier and convenient.

      – Talking of piracy, there was a game in the news online yesterday that you might get a laugh out of. They released their (purchasable) game online, then – they themselves – uploaded a ‘cracked’ version to the file sharing websites. They got the figures – 94% of people playing their game hadn’t paid a cent for it and had obtained it ‘illegally’. The thing was, the cracked version of the game was actually set to fail, in-game – nothing malicious, more ironic when you see what the nature of the game is – here’s the full story: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-04-29-game-dev-tycoon-forces-those-who-pirate-the-game-to-unwittingly-fail-from-piracy

      – We were talking about publishing at work the other day and someone was saying that the trend publishing houses are in seems to be to buy completely ready-for-sale novels. Publishing houses want the finished product in the market as quickly as possible, not to have to give the author an advance and wait for them to write it, then go through the finishing processes, THEN finally promote and sell. That’s why there’s all these fanfiction writers getting published (and mass-marketed) – their product is essentially ready, and already reviewed, if they just tweak it a bit. That was the discussion anyway – it’s hideous if it’s actually true, but there has to be a way to make that system work for the author, if it’s what’s truly happening.
      The only way I can think of is for authors to crowdfund their novels; that way fans, or interested parties attracted to the campaign, pay for the advance the writer needs to live off in order to write the book. “I can’t take the time to write this, unless I can raise $x”. The perk to the donators would be a finished copy of the book for donating $x, or an acknowledgements page specifically mentioning them all in the back for donating $y, or something. There could even be deals with publishing houses, where if a percentage of the crowdfunding goal is pledged by the public, the publisher pays the rest.
      Yes, this would be much harder for up-and-coming authors, but the truth with any crowdfunding project is you get as much out of it as you give; there are many success stories of unknown film makers crowdfunding their entire films through careful, clever marketing and funding provided by the public. It’s much harder but every job has it’s good and bad sides, and if it meant a writer could stop life and write write write, it’d be worth it.

    4. On cracking any form of software or protection systems – nothing can’t be cracked. (Technically known as reverse engineering, the subject matter and techniques are available in a flood of ink on paper books & eBooks)
      File sharing sites with links to books and software make money by running Google adds and from file storage sites that pay for the traffic they generate. To get maximum download speeds people pay a monthly subscription to the file storage companies. So in the case of your pirated books everyone makes money but not you. As for music downloads they are simple to find. A reputable company took a lengthy survey over time of a large sample group and found a large number of pirate downloaders went out and bought a physical copy of the music that they liked out numbering the none pirate downloaders. For bands, touring is how they make their money. The constant idea that pirated music is ruining the music business is financed by the record industry. Reminds me of “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changing.”
      ebooks are sold too cheaply, eBook authors are the clothing workers of Bangladesh. *Alchemetica*

      • It is true that Ebooks can be very cheap, but the price I was selling Greylands at seemed very reasonable to me, as being self published, it means I would earn almost the whole amount, which is more than the percentage I would earn as a writer, from a single traditionally published print on paper book.
        But I totally agree that at this point, there are no ways to prevent pirating, and I can only hope that the experience of the music industry is also the way things work in the book industry- ie people download freebies then buy what they have liked. Certainly I download/buy both books and music easily and the prices are low enough that I probably buy a lot more one track at a time and if the books were more expensive. Impatience is also part of it. I wanted to hear the Tim Finn hobbit song and was hunting for a full version, and when I could only find cut off versions to listen to, I thought, what the hell, and bought it.

    5. I thought I best clarify my 1:13 am post when I was falling asleep. What I meant by “eBooks are sold too cheaply, eBook authors are the clothing workers of Bangladesh” is that society has this demand to buy things at the cheapest price. Amazon is the equivalent to the clothing manufacturers like Mango, Target, Big W that get their clothes made in Bangladesh. I wonder where Kindles are made.

      “Technically known as reverse engineering, the subject matter and techniques are available in a flood of ink on paper books & eBooks” was meant as an irony as the very thing you want protected is disseminating how to unprotect it.

      “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changing.” is really a reference to (albeit obtuse) the continuing trend towards convergence of software and hardware.

      • I wonder where kindles are made too. I will see if I can find out.But I would love to hear more from you on the trend towards the convergence of software and hardware- what does that mean?

    6. Nikarra says:

      I think he’s trying to say that because things are becoming more accesible and available on different platforms, it’s only going to become easier to pirate whatever is trying to be sold through these more novel platforms. We’re able to surf the net on our televisions and our phones, programs are being designed now to be used with certain devices but are being marketed at large audiences instead of niches (eg: iOS, Android systems, etc). Plus there’s cloud storage… Companies are coning up with ways of making money by making their products easier to obtain, so it’s just going to inspire pirates to exploit this.

      Crowd funding does work splendidly if you’re already kind of established, or you are willing to market the bejeezus out of yourself. I think if you’re self publishing though it works better if you’ve already started the project and just need the funds to continue doing so rather than going “hey, I’m gonna write this great big thing, I haven’t started yet but would you donate anyway”. You may be a very credible person and want to start something big, but things change and sometimes you’re just not able to start everything that you want to create.

      By-the-by, would Random every consider releasing Scatterlings as an e-book or is it something you’d consider doing? I know the stress probably outweighs the benefit but personally I think that because you did it so long ago and it’s been out of print so long that people would approach it as if it was new. (It’s fairly rare to find it in a library, and my copy was lent to and lost by a friend.)

      • Nikarra, thanks for your interesting comments. I think you are right about getting a good response if you are prepared to do a lot of self promotion, and I will certainly try crowd funding down the track. Maybe see if I can raise just enough to produce a book in print, with each person receiving a copy but I would like to use this as a way of raising funds for an animal charity. I also wanted to say that your comments about Scatterlings pleased me very much because it will be re released as a print book by Ford Street next year – I think it is available now as an E book from Penguin but they have allowed me to have the print rights back. I am pretty excited to think of that being in print again after so many years, and once it IS in print, I will offer it to Bolinda to see if they are interested in having it as an audio book.

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