Wednesday, June 03, 2009

From the Comments

Stephen Blackmoore commented on my post re: You Need Some Kindle-ing to Start a Fire and in the interest of furthering discussion on the topic and disseminating views, I brought it up to a post.

For the longest time people were saying the short story market was dead...I think perhaps its resurrection is all-digital.

Couldn't agree more. As magazine sales disintegrate more and more short fiction is appearing on the web. Sites like Plots With Guns ( and Thrilling Detective ( have always been web based, but even more traditional print mags are moving to the web as their markets collapse.

When the NY Times finds it could save money (and by money I mean millions) by giving its subscribers a Kindle and having them download the paper every day then you have to say the gong is ringing loud and clear.

And it's not just short fiction. Interesting post at Joe Konrath's blog about his releasing one of his novels onto the Kindle for $1.59.

And how he shot to a #1 bestseller with it.

I will investigate this further, and see what I find out. John August has already dissected some of the manipulation going on over at Kindle as to how something gets on their bestseller list. Certainly I'm not saying that anything underhanded is going on, just that the methodologies employed give readers a skewed idea of what "bestseller" really means on Kindle's charts.

He's not making huge money ($1250.00) by any means, but it's an experiment and he rightly points out that an advance for a first time novel is traditionally about $5K.

And since he's putting it out himself all he's losing is the cut Amazon takes.

He could easily make $5K in a few months if sales remain strong.

Sure, he's not going to get royalties, but as you say it's about marketing. He needs to keep his brand fresh and strong and if he does that and works to maintain it then the royalty issue becomes moot.

Well, if he's selling it on Kindle and has built an audience, then he could easily do a print version via Createspace with added material and so forth - for the collector types. Again, I have to slice through his post. But, it points a way for new writers to get their work out there which is both a blessing and a curse. I do think that editors and designers will become more more important in this new paradigm. At least for those wishing to produce something of professional quality that stands out from the pack of books available.

And I don't know about you, but an extra $15K couldn't hurt (3 novels at $5k each/ year) and the fact they will always be "in print" means they are working for you. Then of course, there's the translation rights for other territories, the media and merchandise tie-ins... you get the picture.

He makes an excellent point about the advance a novelist would get in that it can either be spent on whatever or looked at as a business loan for your company and rolled back into it.

And ahem, certainly their will be companies hiring writers to work on Kindle novels based on outlines. The pulp publishing novel. Strictly percentage based, but a way to put callouses on your fingertips. This is how Tom Swift and Nancy Drew were created.

There are a lot of different ways to go about this, obviously, and I know a lot of people who are freaking out about it.

Certainly no need to freak, just start making plans and executing them. If you're an established writer - this is a new market for your work. If you're a newbie writer who needs experience, this is an opportunity. If you're a webcomics person, this is a way to sell your comics while you gather material for the GN. If you're and editor or graphic designer this a chance to ply your skillset to people who will need your services.

It's past time that self-publishing raises the bar on its offerings and quality.

And if you're like me, you're already working on this and tying it into web video (movies and serials), audio, comics, social networking and merchandising.

Danni Daring TM and copyright (c) 2009 by Bill Cunningham and New Pulp Media. Artwork used for example purposes only - no rights implied.


Stephen Blackmoore said...

"When the NY Times finds it could save money (and by money I mean millions) by giving its subscribers a Kindle and having them download the paper every day then you have to say the gong is ringing loud and clear. "

That would be great, except I'm not sure they're going to go with it, myopic as newspapers tend to be. They would essentially be paying for other guys' subscriptions, too. Once you've got the Kindle you can put whatever you want on it. The NY Times takes the big hit and the Baltimore Sun rides on its coattails with a smaller cost per subscription.

Not saying that's an issue, but I can see that conversation coming up in a staff meeting. Hopefully it will get knocked down as the idiotic paranoia that it is.

Maybe if they branded it so you're always reminded that it's a NY Times Kindle that might help. They're going to need to do something to differentiate themselves to keep their brand in the forefront.

Interesting thing. There's an article in Los Angeles magazine ( by Mark Lacter about the fall of the Los Angeles Times that I think bears a closer look. One example on its sad, but inevitable demise in print is this little nugget:

"(A recruiting firm) found that search engine ads delivered 13,879 applicants at an average cost of $4.62 each. Newspaper and magazine ads delivered 852 applicants, at a cost of $354.96 each."

Comparing the costs of servers, maintenance and bandwidth with print just shows that the cost of doing the business model itself makes the business intractable.

"I will investigate this further, and see what I find out..."

Joe has quite a few bits and pieces about his Kindle experience as well as his experience in giving away books and stories online for free. Definitely worth a look.

"Well, if he's selling it on Kindle and has built an audience, then he could easily do a print version via Createspace"

In his case it was the other way around, he built up his audience with his "Jack Daniels" novels, though I could see things going the other way easily enough. I think what he put up to the Kindle, and I think in other format, was one of his trunk novels.

I met him a few years ago at a signing and he said something that's always stuck with me. We're talking about writing and the topic turns to me having a couple novels that are never going to see the light of day and he says, "Yeah, I got nine of those."

Knowing his style I'm sure most, if not all, of his trunk novels are very good. And if no one else will touch them any money he gets from his own releases is gravy. The initial investment in time and effort is done and gone.

I think the next five to ten years are going to be very interesting for all areas of publishing.

Now that Google's getting into the book game a Google based e-book reader won't be far behind. And considering their history of pretty much doing what they want as long as it feeds their ad revenue (and sometimes even when it doesn't) they're likely to come up with something that isn't Kindle's hacked together and proprietary format.

At some point they're going to have to play nice with each other and agree on a standard. Sony's going to be a joke and get frozen out of an decision making for the same reason they won the VCR battle. In buying MGM they had access to more movies for their VHS standard than anyone had for laser disc or Beta.

Now Amazon's got the upper hand. Not necessarily in content, as Sony's got access to quite a bit, but that Amazon has both the distribution and the infrastructure to support it. It's a one stop for reviews, sample pages, links to other similar books even if they're not digital. No matter what you're looking for they'll have it in some format.

So with Google coming onboard Amazon's going to actually have something resembling competition. It'll be interesting to see where it goes. If they're smart they'll come up with an Android Kindle like their iPhone app.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

You might also find this interesting.

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