January 13th, 2011


Angles = Kickstarter project?

amberley asked if I’d thought of doing a Kickstarter project with Angles (or presumably anything else). I have, yes, of course, but I don’t know a whole lot about book *production*, just writing. I do know how much I get paid for a novel, so I figure that under any reasonable circumstances to produce a limited edition print book, I should probably at least double that number to account for production costs (editing, layout, cover art, interior art because what the hell, if I’m going to do it I might as well do it right, shipping, kickstarter’s percentage & probably many things I’m not thinking of), then probably add some percentage for just in case. That’s $30K on the shallow end, which takes into account I’m revising, not starting a novel from scratch.

That’s 10 times my most successful crowdfunding project. That’s a lot.

Now, Kickstarter has a much broader base to draw from than I do, and they don’t collect any money if the goal isn’t reached, so nobody’s out anything. They also have levels of donations, many of which people do entertaining things with. I can mostly only think of fun/ny things to do at the high end of the scale, but I imagine it would go something like this:

$10: a PDF of the book
$25: a PDF & a signed print edition of the book
$50: & your name in the acknowlegments
$100: & a print of the cover art
$500: & prints of the interior artwork
$1000: & four additional copies of the book to hoard until you can sell them for an obscene amount on eBay
$5000: & I will hand-deliver your signed edition to you
$7500: …and sing “You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings”
$10K+: …in public.

Another thing Kickstarter suggests is making a video to sell your product. This is high on the list of things I’m bad at. I’m also not sure how well “I’m too busy making a living writing books to revise this one book I really really love and need to get paid so I’ll actually do it” would go over as a reason for a project. :)

amberley also asked “If you can sell it direct (as a Kindle e-book or a limited physical edition or both) for enough money, why do you care about selling it to a traditional publisher?” to which the answer is largely that I still believe traditional publishing is the way to reach a wider audience. I can round up about 200 direct buyers from my blogs & other web presences. I can probably get to a lot more if a project pops up on Amazon/BN.com/etc as “by CE Murphy”, but ultimately, I think there’s nothing like browsing a bookstore and finding new titles there. Maybe someday that’ll change, but for now, I still think dead trees are the best way to sell books.

At some point I /will/ try doing a direct sales through Kindle/etc, but there’s also the matter of editing. I think my books are better when a professional editor’s had a go at them, and I’d just as soon not be in the position of paying somebody to edit a book when normally somebody pays me so they can edit my book. There’s a lot to this business that the publisher takes care of, and I don’t, by and large, want to go into business as a publisher myself.

(eta: my mother would like me to make it clear that this idea is nuts and I’m not going to do it. So just for the record: this idea is nuts, and I’m not going to do it. I’ll do the crowdfunded revisions, probably. That will be Quite Sufficient. :))

(x-posted from the essential kit)

Inheritors’ Cycle update

I’ve had a number of people ask over the past couple of years whether there would be more books about Belinda and Javier (THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, THE PRETENDER’S CROWN). I finally have an update about that, and the answer is, “Not for the foreseeable future.”

This is a business decision, not a lack of enthusiasm. The people who have contacted me about the Inheritors’ Cycle have loved it, as do I, as does my publisher. But let me try to explain what happens in the life cycle of a book (and writer).

THE QUEEN’S BASTARD sold pretty well; THE PRETENDER’S CROWN, rather less so. Therein lies the problem.

When bookstores order books to put on their shelves, they look at the last book a writer has produced. If that book sold 10 copies at their store, then they’ll probably order 9 copies of the next book. Maybe even eleven. It doesn’t matter if it’s part of the same series. All that matters is who wrote it.

So if the last book sold 3 copies, they’ll order two. And it still doesn’t matter if it’s a different series. They’ll order two, and that means only 2 people are going to be able to grab it off the shelf when it comes in. And they might say, “Great, those sold, we’ll order two more!”–but if there’d been 10 in the first place, and 10 people had snatched them up, they’d be ordering 10 more.

So if PRETENDER’S CROWN sold 3 copies, the bookstores aren’t going to say “Oh, different series, these ones move faster!” when DEMON HUNTS comes out. They’re going to say, “Oh, she only sold 3 books last time, let’s not order more than that.”

You can see the potential knock-on effect this has on a writer’s career.

So at the moment, both the larger part of my reputation as a writer and the market is interested in urban fantasy, not alternate history epic sci-fantasy. That’s what’s selling for me, and it’s what my publishers are interested in, and it is therefore what I’m interested in.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope the worm will eventually turn and I’ll have the opportunity to go back and write more in that world. But for now, well, this is how I pay rent, so I’m pitching urban fantasy ideas, and we’ll see how that goes.

(x-posted from the essential kit)