Friday, September 6, 2013

Emerging Markets and Other Publishing Ephemera

I really shouldn't have stayed up until two a.m. to work on Blood Sacrifice. The problem is that the book's done in my head, but since I can't beam images directly to readers' brains, I have to actually write down what happens.

And I really want to work Zombie Goddess, which isn't quite done in my head. I'm already fifteen pages into that novel, so hopefully it won't take over a year to finish the f***ing thing. Keep your fingers crossed. I might have it done by Christmas.

Ah, such is the life of a writer!

Several odds and ends have happened over the last week that don't require a full post, but are worth a mention.

Amazon has started a new program called Kindle Matchbook. Basically, it offers your print book and the same e-book for one low price. It shows that Amazon is thinking of the customer first, something the BPHs and other retailers just aren't getting. I generally buy the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital packages for movies (if they're available), so it makes perfect sense to me. I just need to get my act together and release print versions of my books.

Over at Smashwords, Mark Coker has introduced two new markets, FlipKart and Oyster.

Flipkart is an Indian online bookseller. I don't know about anyone else, but my Asian sales have sucked. I understand that India has the largest English-speaking population in Asia, but I'm not sure my style of books will fly there due to language, violence and sex. This one of those "we'll see" things.

Oyster is a booklending service on par with Netflix for TV shows and movies, i.e. unlimited consumption for one low price per month. On the consumer side, I LOVE the idea. From the provider side, I have a lot of concerns, especially when Smashwords arbitrarily signs everyone up for the service without detailing how we are to be compensated. If you don't believe me, go check out your Channel Manager. I've opted out of the program until I get more details.

Writer Paul Cook tried to stir the bigotry fire in sci-fi/fantasy once again with a misogynistic opinion piece at Amazing Stories, then got pissed off when the heat fried his ass. Here's my take:

1) "There's girl cooties on my sci-fi" was old back in the '70's when I started reading SF as a kid. Get over yourself, Paul.

2) He didn't even compare hard sf to hard sf. He pulled science fantasy and steampunk out of his ass to compare to Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, which is military SF, not romance as he claims. WTF?

The scary part is that this guy teaches literature, but can't tell the difference between subgenres in his field.

Okays, folks, I'm off to get a pizza to munch on while I try to tie up this novel. Hang loose and have a great weekend!


  1. I'm kind of WTF?? at Coker signing an agreement, then promising to let his writers know all about it at least 72 hours before it all goes live. Umm, what? He keeps saying it's an "author friendly" agreement, but if it's that great, why won't he just post about it? o_O

    On the Matchbook thing, what I heard was that if you buy the paper book, you're eligible to buy the e-book at a reduced rate, no more than $2.99 and possibly down to free. I guess you could call that a package. Since they're making every paper book you've ever bought from Amazon eligible for this program, that's a pretty cool deal for the readers. From the writers' POV, it's... iffy. On the one hand, we want to do things that'll make readers happy. On the other and, if you make, say, four dollars for every sale of an electronic edition of a book, and a dollar for every sale of a paper edition, then letting folks buy your e-book for $2.99 if they buy the paperback first means you get a buck for the paperback and a little over $2 for the e-book, so you're losing about a dollar for each sale of the pair, versus just selling someone the e-book. And if your e-book is free with the paper sale, then you're losing about 80% of your income there. If that person is really into paper books and wouldn't have bought the e-book without the deal, then you're ahead with any price on the e-book, and even with a paper sale, sure. But...? I don't know.

    I sell hardly any paper books -- very common in my genre -- so I'd have to sell a LOT of paper books to people who would normally not buy my books at all, to make up for the income hit.

    Angie, pondering

  2. Personally, I'm beginning to wonder if Mark's hanging out with the Apple execs a little too much. If the agreement with Oyster is a done deal, then why all the secrecy when it comes to your vendors? My guess is that it is really bad or it is so good he's afraid Amazon will make significant changes to the Kindle Lending Library to match Oyster's terms. But I'm neither a glass-half-full nor a glass-half-empty person. I'm the "OMG! We're all gonna die of dehydration!" type person. LOL

    As for MatchBook, it's always been a balancing act for retailers, mark-up vs. quantity of sales. It's hard to hit that sweet spot without significant marketing info, which most of us don't have. Indie writers are going to have to study and work a little harder on that angle. You have to ask yourself are you really "losing" money on a sale you wouldn't have made unless you had the two for one deal. Indie writers are going to have to examine their pricing structures for both print and e-books. Right now, most of them are guessing and/or trying to significantly undercut trad published books.

    Despite Amazon's rah-rah announcement, most BPHs aren't jumping on the p-and-e bandwagon because they fear they'll hasten the demise of print. That gives indies a little time to figure out how to maximize profit without pissing off our customer base.

  3. Wait a cotton pickin' minute. You can't beam images directly into a reader's brain? Imagine if you really could. Spooky.

    Happy Pizza Eating.

  4. I'm more afraid of what I'd pick up from other people's brains, my dear Whisk!

  5. Right, if some significant number of the P+E sales were to people who wouldn't have bought at all if they had to buy one or both separately, then you're making a profit. I'm just not sure it'll work that way, especially in a genre where P is traditionally on the order of 15% or so of E. :P