Interesting Reading

The interview with KOBO CEO Michael Servinis, though short, is worth the read. He’s talking about the speed that everything is happening and how authors have choices now.

Worth the read if you are following this new world of publishing. And Kobo is a major player in this new world.

Interview

Also, on Konrath’s site Henry Perez the thriller writer is talking about his experience with Amazon sales. It’s worth the read, plus what Joe says afterwards. But I wanted to quote two of Henry’s paragraphs here to follow up on the last New World of Publishing chapter.

Henry Perez said:

“Ideally, authors should a have a foot in both conventional publishing and e-books, including Amazon exclusives—especially Amazon exclusives. The good news is that being rejected or dropped by New York publishers is no longer a death sentence, not for a book, a series, and certainly not for an author.

Every author, regardless of their success level, now has a powerful outlet for their work. E-books are more than just a tool, though, they represent an important and necessary market for every author. Miss out on the e-book readers, and you’re missing out on the future.”

Hmmmmm….wish I had said it that well.

Full article at Konrath’s blog.

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10 Responses to Interesting Reading

  1. PV Lundqvist says:

    I’ve had good success over at Kobo. Less than Amazon, but far above all the other ebook retailers.

    I don’t know what they’re doing right (besides powering Border’s estore), but they are doing it.

  2. Konrath’s blog has some other observations, the long-term effects of which I am not sure he’s aware yet…

    Some background: I used to do indie game development, mostly in the art field, but also in general production. I did some work in mini, indie-level MMORPGs. A few years ago, it was fairly easy for a small development company to ‘break in’ and make a game on a shoestring, put it out there, and still do OK. Only a few years later, the game dev scene has “advanced” to the point where even free to play (as opposed to subscription based) games have high production values requiring a staff of 50-100 (or more) people to create them.

    When things started heading this way, many indie devs went to the iphone instead, and began generating apps; or they went into flash games and started producing the host of little games you see on Facebook and the like. However there again we’re seeing an upward trend in production values, and eventually – not this year, or likely next, but soon – we’ll see those areas dominated by large and well staffed companies.

    What does this have to do with writing? Konrath commented “Ebooks are more than just putting your run-of-the-mill stories into a digital format. They can actually do more than print books, and offer artists new, exciting opportunities. And we haven’t even broached on the “enriched ebook” possibilities with audio and video.” (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/08/on-beyond-ebooks.html). And he’s right.

    Now take this observation where it logically goes… Someone eventually will begin putting out ebooks. Not ebook reprints of print novels, but true ebooks, that take advantage of the medium in new ways. They will have flash. They will have bang. And we’re a culture that increasingly desires flash and bang in our entertainment. I’m not sure exactly how it’ll come about, but I am picturing something of a merging between cinema and novel.

    Once down that road you have begun, forever will it etc, etc. Novels will become multimedia productions. Production value on high end novels will soar, with companies putting millions of dollars into a multimedia novel. And – not overnight, not this year, and not next, but eventually – this medium too will become dominated by larger business. Artists (the writing and the 3D sort) will still have roles, but the productions will require a staff, not one person typing in their living room.

    Dean, you commented that there isn’t a boat to miss, in reply to my comment on your last blog entry. Reading this and thinking where it is likely to lead, I think there actually is. Nothing stays static, and I don’t think the present situation, nice as it is starting to look, will remain static either. In the longer term, the ebook revolution might not just mean the end of publishing as we know it – but also the end of the novel as we have seen it before.

    • dwsmith says:

      Kevin,

      No doubt that enriched or enhanced stories will find their home in electronic publishing. I already wrote two novels this year for publishers doing just that. (They were full novels that will have the enriched aspects and one of them I wrote a ton of extra stuff to help fill in.) Comic writers have done the same for years, writing script for artists and so on. Sure, there’s a huge world there that is just starting to develop. No argument at all.

      But will those type of books change all of print publishing? Oh, heaven’s no. It will be a nice addition but the reader imagination is hard to beat and that’s what good writing gives readers. Clear images in the reader’s imagination.

      (And I am puzzled, how many people do you think it now takes to get a book from a writer to B&N stores? There are dozens in that teamwork along the way. Always has been. So right now what has changed is that authors can get that same book with no help to the same location. So it’s gone the other way from what you are suggesting.)

      This talk about the standard novel is dead has come along now four or five times in my writing life so far. Actually, what is interesting is that this new world of electronics might hurt the novel in one area, and that’s length. The short story is the best form for many of the devices and is showing a huge increase in sales. If anything happens to the novel in the next fifty years, it will get shorter is all.

      Actually novels used to be in the 40-60,000 word range for the most part until price points drove them longer for value added a couple of decades past.

      So can anyone miss a boat right now? Nope, don’t think so. But there are vast new opportunities opening up not only in the delivery system of novels, but also in brand new ways stories can be delivered in what.

      By the way, it used to take a large team to get a novel into a decent audio book for authors. Now an author can do it with some good equipment. The numbers needed to get a book from the author to the reader has gone down and for a time will keep going down. Again, great comments and thanks, Kevin. Much appreciated.

  3. You’ve given me a huge amount to think about in the last couple of days (with your revision articles as much as anything on ebooks), so thank *you*.

    I agree completely that – right now – we’re seeing a burst of ability for an author to “self-do” everything, get their novel into ebook form and up for purchase solo. I suspect though that we’ll eventually see some movement away from “basic books”, and we’ll see large teams with big budgets move in to create those “high production value” (read: high cost) ebooks.

    How well will the traditional novel form hold on when that happens? I honestly don’t know; I think it will hold, if for no other reason than it’s been around so many years that it’s an ingrained part of our culture. But then, I would have said that about paper books as well, ten years ago.

    Again, thanks for the great and thought provoking reads. And now back to practicing revision in creative voice… ;)

    • dwsmith says:

      What is interesting Kevin is that publishers have done studies and readers hate the enhanced books so far, even on iPads. They just want a simple reading experience instead of links and crap jumping out at them every time they move. So far the enhanced book is a niche market and as a reader my gut sense is it will remain one.

  4. Ty Johnston says:

    I don’t think it’s impossible that enhanced e-books could eventually come to dominate, but I’d think it would be another 25 to 100 years down the road. It’d take that long for current generations to die out, those accustomed to standard prose reading. And I’m not even sure it could happen then.

  5. Mark says:

    “The short story is the best form for many of the devices and is showing a huge increase in sales.”

    Can you expound on this a bit? Where are you getting this information? And are these selling as individual stories or in collections?

    And I was just thinking along similar lines. I think novellas are more attractive now. There was no way to write a single novella and sell it as a standalone before, unless you were Stephen King and trying to serialize a book like he did with The Green Mile.

    Oh, and as an aside, I know you price your short stories at $0.99. That seems a bit high to me for one story, though I know I’m something of a cheapskate. Have you ever thought about bundling three stories together for that price?

    • dwsmith says:

      Mark,

      $0.99 is the lowest besides free a lot of the sites will allow. And actually, it’s pretty standard price when you divide a subscription to Asimov’s by the number of stories over a year. Pretty close to the same number. And it’s just not me, it’s pretty much everyone who is putting up short stories. Although, that said, Kris and I are doing what we call Five Pack (and that’s how WMG is publishing them) with five short stories with some theme holding them together lightly for $2.99. For example, this next week I think WMG is getting out my Five Pack called Five from the Jukebox which is a book of my jukebox stories. Actually my first collection ever. The five packs will also be trade paper books later on.

      And Kris and I both agree with you that novellas (short novels) are attractive now. She’s been selling them for years to Asimov’s and in the current double issue her novella is the cover story, but for the rest of us, they are hard to sell. Now in this new world they are fantastic.

      More later on the short story comeback. Might be a major post. Now off to pick up Kris from the airport in Portland. She’s been in Germany this entire time and took two full days to get back.

  6. @Kevin – There’s a vast difference in the media between books, interactive fiction, and movies. They all tell stories, but very differently. Not to get all McLuhanesque (“the medium is the message”), but the man had a point. (Ask anyone who’s tried to convert a short story or novel into a script, or vice versa.) Some things are better left to the imagination (“I pushed away from the console and stomped back to the living area to sulk, er, think. Stomping isn’t easy in zero-G; the result wasn’t satisfying.”) and some things are easier to show on-screen rather than tell.

    So I agree with Dean, there’ll always be a demand for text-only stories (perhaps with the occasional static illustration or map). There’s a different and probably overlapping demand for more interactive stories, with flashy graphics. (Apparently not so much without — the old text-only “interactive fiction” adventures like Colossal Cave, Zork and their successors took a permanent turn for the graphic with Myst et seq.)

    But it’s already the case that authors can and do sell game and movie rights to their stories — or write works for hire for game companies and movies. So I don’t see a huge change happening there, except that some of the players may change as companies come and go with the new media.

    When AI technology develops to the point where you can feed a text story to a program and have it generate a film or game from it, then we’ll see a profound change — because at that point the AI could probably write the dang story, too.

    • dwsmith says:

      I agree with Alastair. I had a fun experience once. I had to come up with an original Star Trek story set in complete Klingon warship. Then I had to convert it to an interactive live action game in full-length movie script form that Frakes directed at Paramount. I wrote the script but in typical Hollywood fashion didn’t get script credit because at the time I wasn’t a member of the Guild. Then Pocket hired me to do a novelization of the screen play I wrote, only set in the world of DS-9. Trust me, all three elements of that same story were very, very different to write. Movie/game turned out to be a failed experiment called Klingon, but the book ended up pretty good.

      In e-pub discussions, we are not talking about changing the nature of story, just the nature of the distribution system to readers of story.

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