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18 March 2011 @ 10:29 am
crowdfunding vs kindle  

So during the course of my crowdfunded events people have asked me why I don’t just write something straight for the e-reader market.

My biggest reason is “because crowdfunding pays me now, and an e-reader market story might not pay me at all.”

It probably would, mind you, but I don’t know how well. Right now with the crowdfunding stuff I’m getting what I’d consider market value for my short stories and novellas–somewhere around $500 for short stories and around $3K for novellas–and that’s an awful damned lot of $.99 or $1.99 downloads.

So the question, as far as I’m concerned, swiftly becomes “Can I do both? Can I crowdfund a project to get it written and pay for my initial investment in the story, and then turn it over to the Kindle (or whatever) as a longer-term money-maker?”

That, of course, depends on what you, the reader, thinks. There is as a rule a much larger initial investment in the crowdfunded projects than there is in waiting for the Kindle (or whatever) version. So I’m wondering what You, The Reader, thinks is a fair return on your investment:

- the sheer and utter glory of knowing you’ve helped permit something that wouldn’t have otherwise been created, be created
- advance access to the story, of course, but how much? a week? a month? three months? six?
- an opportunity to buy a limited edition physical chap book of the story at cost/include the cost of creating such a thing in the crowdfunding donation bottom line?
- other things I’m not thinking of?

Discuss! I’m interested!

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Megabitchmegabitch on March 18th, 2011 09:51 am (UTC)
I have become a kindle addict. I'm currently paying between £3.50 and £7 for a full length novel and consider that acceptable (the higher price usually for more recently issued items where I want it NOW!). My credit card invoice looks scary at first glance because of the many, many kindle purchases (this is because each book is listed as a seperate order rather than a few books in one order). I'm also the one clicking the "I would like to read this book on Kindle" on any book that I want that is not available there yet. I cannot buy US kindle books, if I try to I get a nice page that tells me that I can only buy Kindle books via the UK site, which is a pain when a book is on the US site but not the UK site (something to bear in mind).

Novellas I have seen are listed at between £0.70 and £2.49. Short stories are between £0.49 and £1.99.

Speaking as someone who has invested in your projects, I wouldn't mind if, for example, you made the story/stories available on Kindle say three to six months or so after I received my copy.

Kindle on my iPhone is scary scary - if I download a book by an author that I have never read before and find that I like the book and it's the first in a series, then as soon as I finish I click and d'load the next one, and the next one, and the next one... (I am currently waiting for the next installment of at least four different series) by the end of a week I'll have managed to buy a dozen books/novellas via Kindle. Kindle on any platform that has instant wifi or similar access to the net is something that one needs to keep control of. I think I am going to have to sort out a regular "gift voucher" for myself with Amazon to act as a Kindle allowance each month.

I do wish ebooks had the same VAT exemption as printed books, though.
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on March 18th, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
I like physical books, so I would be in the limited edition catchment, I think. But supporting a writer I admire also counts for a lot.
I think Diane Duane has done this with some of her books: it would be interesting to find out what her experiences have been.
All Over The Mapjemck on March 18th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
On the subject of not getting paid at all, you will be interested to learn that my first ebook, Irons in the Fire, was/is being offered for free on a torrenting website within 24 hours of official publication through legitimate channels.

That's entirely illegally and in utter breach of copyright, whatever weasel words and quasi-lawyerly obfuscation the thieves have plastered over the site.

No, I'm not saying where and yes, I have set my publishers' legal attack dogs on them. I'll report back in due course.
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on March 18th, 2011 12:48 pm (UTC)
If and when I do it, I'll make 'em available in all formats, or at least epub so everything'll read 'em. :)
lunamoon_dreamlunamoon_dream on March 19th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Kindles do not support the e-pub format
Rachierachie203 on March 18th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
As a ridiculous bibliophile I have spent much of my life purchasing books in much the manner megabitch described. As a bibliophile painfully getting by on a budget I have been frequenting my library often to support my reading habit, and only allow myself the occasional book purchase. For me, supporting your crowd-funded projects I fall in the category of "the sheer and utter glory of knowing you’ve helped permit something that wouldn’t have otherwise been created, be created" and ultimately it comes down to supporting an author I really like. In the vein of supporting a favored author, under the belief that supporting of said author results in more writing, I wouldn't be upset as an investor if that story/novella was later (3-6 months) made available in digital format. In fact, I may also purchase it again so that it happily sits in my kindle archive and is available to me whenever/wherever I want it. Also, as a fan, I want future readers to be able to discover your work and buy everything you've written, thus continuing to support an author I fangirl and in the great cycle of supply/demand increasing the likelihood of future works for me to read.
pgwfolcpgwfolc on March 18th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
I'll second most of what Rachie said.

To me, it doesn't even really matter when other people get to read it. I just love reading it. I want to support your work because you've earned it and because it means you'll make more lovely things for me to enjoy. And it means other people will get to enjoy it, too.

BTW, Rachie, are you familiar with MobileRead? Point your Kindle at http://www.mobileread.com/mobiguide and it will download a linked catalog of free public domain Kindle-format books.
Rachie: Slackerrachie203 on April 6th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
So in cleaning out my inbox I discovered I'd not responded to this. Whoops! Thanks so much for the link, I really appreciate it! :)
pgwfolcpgwfolc on April 6th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
lol, np. But glad it's appreciated. Never too late to say something nice. ;)
Geek of Weird Shit: fireygows on March 18th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
- advance access to the story, of course, but how much? a week? a month? three months? six?
- include the cost of creating such a thing in the crowdfunding donation bottom line?

A combo of these two things, with a 3-6 month lead time.
lunamoon_dreamlunamoon_dream on March 19th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
I don't see anything wrong with a combination of Crowdfund and e-publishing at a later date.

I love being able to carry a library of my favorite books around with me. Would you make the kindle/e-reader version avaliable world-wide? As an Australian kindle owner I have been finding that many of the books I wish to buy are just not avaliable for purchase in my country (Including your Strongbox Chronicles- Is there any chance of that changing? :P )
Amberleyamberley on March 19th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Build a e-backlist
As someone who's crowdfunded your stories in the past, I'd like to see them all available as e-books, on both Kindle and any other widespread formats. I don't care about advance access; my view is that the idea that rich people can read things a year ahead of people on a budget is a pernicious holdover from the failing business model of the physical object publishing industry.

Eventually I'd hope you'd become comfortable enough with the e-reader market to go straight to that and skip the crowdfunding step, but if you want to dip your toes into the pool instead of cannonballing, I don't see anything wrong with trying it that way.

I do think it's wacky to do exclusive crowdfunding where people who don't have the money or attention to buy it during a narrow window never ever get to see it. The people who are being really successful at e-books (J.A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking, dozens of others) are doing it on the strength of backlists, fully aware that once someone finds a new author they like they hunt down their previous books, and look forward to their new ones. Hocking is selling 100,000+ books a month. At 70% of $0.99-$3.99, that starts to add up into serious money.

There's a lot of work in producing a nice quality physical limited edition; if you were going to do that yourself you should look at the cost of your time in doing so, vs. spending that time writing more books. Build a huge base of fans, to hook Subterranean Press into doing a nifty limited edition.
ruford42 on March 21st, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
I'm confused...Which leaves me with a few questions.

Umm first (compound) question before the wife finds something to throw at me...Is it too late to signup for the latest crowdfunding project and is there any other way to pay than PayPal? :-)

Second, what are the real differences between the crowd funded projects and e-reader market?

You're already releasing the crowd funded projects in PDF, which AFAIK, most eReaders can read natively. I don't foresee a major issue in also making them available
in other formats such as prc, ePub or mobi to round out the availability...although then the issue is either have some sort of online store or pull your hair out trying to figure out which format to send to the subscribers.

The obvious big difference between your crowd funded short stories and novellas from the traditionally published stories is all the work done by other people. Reading through "Year of Miracles" left me missing the nice typesetting and fonts supplied by the nice people at Luna. I know we're buying the story and not the packaging of a graphic cover and fonts, but the right font can make it easier on the eyes and thus easier to enjoy.

Outside of artwork and fonts, I'm also curious are you working with an editor on these crowd funded projects?

I guess the third major difference between crowd funded
projects and normal e-book publishing is the amount of publicity drummed up by your agent and the publisher versus what's delivered by you.

I see two big advantages to the traditional ebook distributors like Amazon and B&N.

First, as a popular store front it give people a chance to discover your work. Since presently the main way to learn about the crowd funding projects has been to read your LJ, mizkit.com, cemurphy.net or to be on your mailing list. Which is wonderful and obviously I'm far from the only fan to enjoy it, but neither my wife or I would be reading these pages if I hadn't stumbled across Urban Shaman on a shelf one day.

Secondly, is the ease of purchase and library management with the big vendors such as the Kindle Store, NookBooks, or iBooks and how those are already designed to be accessible and managed either through a computer or from the dedicated eReader device. My mother-in-law received a wifi only Kindle for Christmas and we've had a visit froom her every time she wishes to load new books onto the Kindle as they don't have WiFi at their home and the process of purchasing and downloading a book to the computer via Amazon then copying it over via a micro-USB cable and telling the Kindle to read it...while not overly complex, is just more than what she wants to deal with.

That said, I wouldn't recommend having it turned over to the major distribution outlets without a little more of the polish we see in the work you've sold through publishers so that whether someone first picks up that they are left with as wonderful an impression as the rest of us have been...Granted, I think my impression would have been very different if I had picked up Inheritor's before Walker Papers or the Negotiator / Old Races...

As a possible intermediate step, have you considered joining a co-op book store like BookViewCafe.com as a way to distribute the current crowd funded projects?
Bryantbryant on March 24th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
Greg Stolze's crowdfunds are oriented towards getting the books out free -- people crowdfund his stuff and the result, as soon as the numbers are met, is a free download. These are mostly RPGs, but still...

So I've been experimenting with one of the Amazon lending services lately; lendle.me hooks up people willing to lend a given book with people willing to borrow a given book. My observation is that a lot of authors set their books at free for a week or so, and then push the price back up to $2.99 or $.99 or whatever. Everyone in the WORLD downloads the free Kindle books. You can tell because a lot of people have 'em for loan, but that's not the only effect: Richard Mabry is not a big name author, but his book is sitting at #2 on the thriller Kindle list (at a cost of $9.99) because it was free for a while. Freebies are a tool to get books on the bestseller lists.

I dunno, I can't really say cause I'm not in your shoes, but I think I'd be trying to figure out how to make Kindle work for me. There's only one Konrath and there's only one Hocking; cheering the successes is nice but you really want to know how many people are not succeeding with that model. On the other hand, the successes are doing pretty well.

And personally I would not mind if you put your existing crowdfunded products out as Kindle books.