Asleep at the wheel, that’s me. Dozy Dave the drongo here forgot to tell anyone he was having a countdown sale last week on GENIE OUT OF THE VAT. So I set out to make reparations – And I’m a fraction late to put it up today – so from tomorrow, there is a countdown sale on this collection – which includes GENIE, and CRAWLSPACE – Rats Bats and Vats universe stories – the first story the prequel to Rats Bats and Vats, and the next a novella set about 30 years on, with the war against the Khorozhet moved into space. A countdown sale means at 8.00 on Tuesday this $4.99 book will cost 99 cents. The price will increase in one cent increments until the $4.99 price is reached again in 4 days. So: the sooner you buy, the cheaper.
This came out from Amazon this week. I was fascinated to find various authors chiming in about what an evil thing Amazon was. Sigh. I mean the very idea that authors are worth as much as publishers, and that retailers should get less than either of those parties… is anathema to them. They seem to revel in proclaiming their inferiority (and therefore superiority to self-published authors, who lack publishers to be worth less than. Logic also ran but was not placed).
Personally, and being a stroppy bastard, it is anathema to me too, but not in the same way. Authors and readers are the two essential parts of this equation. If you’re doing it right, it means the OTHER PARTS – retail and publishing – or the services they’re supposed to provide, are interchangeable widgets, that need to be cost efficient and working damned hard to provide a reward which exceeds their cost. To explain this clearly: What an author needs from a traditional publisher is better value for that more or less 53% of the gross they now claim – for the additional tasks a self-publisher either has to do or outsource, than he can get himself. That means a range of services many providers can actually sell you, that Traditional publishing claimed to take care of for you (but often do/did next to none of – marketing, or do as ineptly as the average self pub -covers, editing, proofs, or drop the ball through sheer NAAFI (like the distribution, where time and again, I’ve had books not put on Amazon, wrongly release dated, with errors about authorship, and not getting around to reprinting when the next in the series releases, not getting it into major venues – to name just a few ‘need to try harder’ areas.) Now, I just dropped the ball, not putting up the Countdown. But it was my ball, and I suffered for doing so. And let’s not to mention opaque, glacial-slow accounting and other keep-authors-un-informed-and-thus-unable-to-help-themselves-or-us idiocy, which they need to lose yesterday. My blood-pressure won’t take too much thinking about what is either criminal exploitation or arrant stupidity (there are no other choices that I can see).
If traditional publishing wants even as much as 35% of the gross…let alone what they get now, they need to work harder, make my life – and readers lives – better and easier, and make me more that twice the sales I can without them. If they want more – they’re going to have make me more so that number stays at “I can do better with you than I can without you.” Yes. I am a grumpy old bastard. Can you see any faults in that logic? You think retailers or publishers are not potentially interchangeable widgets? Yes, I know they like being thought essential and unique, and they’re used to being told that, especially when they’ve had control of the gate between readers and writers, and had to do the minimum besides own the gate. But times change, publishing’s power is vastly diminished, and even retail will in time, be disintermediated by effective matching of customers with sellers. I’ve had Amazon described as a distribution company which does that efficiently. Yep. But it is evolving towards being a distribution hub, that links buyers with sellers – not only making finding your desired product easy – be it a book or wetsuit booties, or cordless drills – but it also runs analytics on these and shows buyers products that they may well buy.
When I hear of Harper Collins planning to enter the market too, I have to laugh. They’re a command-economy company, where they’ve told readers what they ought to like if they know what’s good for them. I just can’t see them suddenly learning to be a customer demand-driven, let alone linking the fact that I buy dive gear, DIY tools, and books of a particular strain of adventure, to offering me the kind of books I want to buy… Amazon already keeps offering me my own. That’s… pretty good targeting. I might even like one of them.
It seems to have been the ‘lets remember that coconut-flinging idiot week.‘
I have a story in this collection, NEVERMORE is a little revisit to the Goth Sex Kitten universe – Tom, the wizard’s apprentice who was once a cat.:
There are a couple of good tales in the collection – I particularly liked Claire McKenna’s Yard, and Liefe Shallcross the Blue Djinn’s wish is a pretty good twist. I was a bit disappointed in the usually exceptional Dirk Flinthart (who can, at times write Simak-ish Australian stories). This one had a logic fail – if you don’t know you haven’t got something, you won’t be upset by not having it.
I do urge you, dear readers, to drop in on these interviews, leave a comment, so they know you also know I’m alive. This is called positive feedback, which is not throwing up into your mouth when your girlfriend tell you ‘It’s positive’ while looking at a test-strip.
Finally Eric and I will be doing a Baen Podcast this week, about the re-release of SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS.
I am of course shocked by the bikini wearing woman on the cover. I am aware the purpose of covers is to get people to look at the book… but in the book the character does not do anything as depraved as wear a bikini, or at least not in public (you can do these sort of kinky things in private, even if people treat it with some disgust.) Lani was always respectably naked in public places, wearing body-paint and not pervy skin coverings.
Oh and as usual, the pictures are links.