Tuesday, June 02, 2009

You Need Some Kindle-ing to Start a Fire

Many of you have been reading John August's posts lately about his short story, "The Variant" that was released by John via several online download portals including Amazon's Kindle.

It's an important step forward, just like Whedon's DR. HORRIBLE was for video and reinforces several precepts we hold near and dear here at Pulp 2.0:

1. You can do it yourself.

2. Branding is important. John says he wouldn't have been as successful if he hadn't had a rep as the screenwriter of (insert Tim Burton or McG movie here).

3. More and more opportunities are happening every day that allow you to make money with your creative content - stories, books, comics, video, audio, merchandise...

4. This is where the industry(s) is (are) transitioning.

But also - let's talk about what this means as it relates to the future forms of media. There's a lot of cool nuggets buried underneath this release...

Note how John released a short story online and people bought it. Not a book or a magazine, but a byte-sized chunk of content. If one were to look back at the music industry you could see this falls right in line with what people are consuming via the web - singles. It's one of the things that has made Itunes so successful as a business model.

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

"Magazines" will simply be areas on the web where similarly themed stories will be stored. People will pay for stories they like based on the logline and a preview and the reputation of the writer/artist (I'm definitely including comics in this scenario, gang) and the tastemaker editors and publishers.

But most importantly there's a revitalized market for self-contained short stories where there was a bloated print corpse in the traditional markets.

This isn't new, I and several others have written for Astonishing Adventures. Other publishers have original genre fiction online...

But right now, based on the numbers that August has and where the bulk of the money comes from, it looks like the economics of it are beginning to catch up to our vision.

Thoughts in the comments, please.


Roger Alford said...

I've been anxiously reading every post. Gold mine of info. I've been working on a collection of 5-6 of my stories that have appeared in Astonishing Adventures. Now I'm rethinking if I should just put them out as singles. Or both? I'd never even thought of selling just one story until this. I really like the .99 price point -- perfectly matches the iTunes model. And comic books.

Roger Alford said...

I mean comic books as in a single story, not the .99 price.

Cunningham said...

Well, the big controversy in webcomics has always been that you had to wait until you had enough material to collect into a trade before you could make "real money" on it...

Now, not so much.

And I too like the model where the author can control pricing up or down depending on the market conditions, initiating a "sale" or "special."

Stephen Blackmoore said...

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 (http://plotswithguns.com) and Thrilling Detective (http://thrillingdetective.com) have always been web based, but even more traditional print mags are moving to the web as their markets collapse.

And it's not just short fiction. Interesting post at Joe Konrath's blog (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/05/more-on-amazon-kindle.html)about his releasing one of his novels onto the Kindle for $1.59.

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

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.

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.

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.

But I'm exciting. It's a pretty cool time to be alive.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Whoops. Last line was supposed to say, "I'm excited."

Sure, I'm exciting but only with a couple bottle of whiskey and some dynamite.