“Like you would do for one that you love…”

“Untie for me your hired blue gown
Like you would do for one that you love”

Leonard Cohen – take this longing

This came out of talking to one of newer authors that I try to help as much as I can. Yes, even an idiot can teach, can support, can sometimes say the right things.

And the wrong things of course. I’m actually exceptionally talented at that. Beyond the ability of most mere mortal men. Anyway the author’s book is coming out from Baen and she was having a sudden not-used-to-Baen but the establishment traditional publishing/sycophant-of-the-same-world moment.

You know. Panic. Because it’s not quite… well, not at all like the way you thought it was supposed to be. Your book is about to be snippetted. Why, near half of it is going to be there for readers to sample… free. To the public. Those guys who just… show up. I mean not reviewers or anything. Just people.

And there are two things here. Firstly: “My book is not protected! It’s… it’s a public site.”

Our customers are not thieves – Jim Baen said. This fear by Trad Pub is projection, not reality.

Anyway: snippets.
No one steals half an egg. And secondly, the fear of theft is overblown one, trust me. If your product is a reasonable price (and from Baen it will be) the hassle factor of assembling a half-book from snippets is just ridiculous. Even downloading a possible-source-of-viruses for free is not something that the average Joe is going to do to save the cost of a couple of cups of coffee. Besides… in my experience the reader who enjoys your work… LIKES to reward you. If they feel it is worthwhile it makes them feel like they gave you a token of appreciation. Well, that’s true for me, anyway. Most readers when they discover that the author is getting 64 cents on that paperback are horrified. I’ve had not a few hit my tip jar saying the book gave them more pleasure than they paid for, will I get off my dead butt and write the next. Yesterday.

But what she was finding hard – after working long and hard on her book, giving it every ounce of her ability and all of her love – it’s a piece of her, and now she’s putting it out there for the public. Not an editor or a reviewer… just for anyone.

And this is the important part of writing, probably the most important part, which so many authors forget. A book that you offer for publication, or put up on Amazon is NOT to please you. Not unless you’re the only customer you ever hope to have. It’s NOT to please your editor, or the staff at the publishing house. They, bluntly, are yesterday’s men. Once they were the center of any writer’s universe. Peeve them and you were dead. If they belonged to a certain ‘tribe’ and kowtowing to that tribe was important to them, you kissed up or became a non-author. Not any more, although this hasn’t penetrated yet. New technology has made that an obsolete feature.

Pleasing a publisher and their hangers on, is now as useful as a buggy whip in a Mercedes Benz… if you fail to please the public. I have seen many a ‘I got wonderful reviews – but my series has been dropped – and it’s all coming from people who have been very loyal to their publisher and publisher’s tribal ideology.

They failed to engage with ‘just anyone’. With the PUBLIC. With the readers who could buy their book. That’s who you’re writing FOR. They give you money. They will buy your work – and these days, with, or without, your publisher getting a cut.

That is something that many authors fail to grasp – and not just new ones. I recently read a diatribe by Adam Troy Castro – who missed this completely (He was attacking John Wright, who seems to be engaging his readers… who aren’t part of his publisher’s tribe). I quote: “has been abusing his publisher in public and attacking his editors as people” which is a bad thing, according to Castro “being an asshole to the people who give you money is not a good career move.”

The latter part of that is certainly true. What Castro seems to have failed to figure out is that the money doesn’t actually come from the publisher. It comes from readers – the subset of the public who love your work. If you abuse them, you’re dead. If your publisher abuses them (which is a fair assessment)… lose your publisher. Reassure your readers that this is not your attitude. Your publisher being an asshole to the people who give you money. He takes quite a lot of that money for not being an asshole – and doing a good job (at least in theory, making sure the reader gets the best book possible. This is, sadly, is not always reality, as much as authors like to believe it.). Not being an asshole to people who give you money is good advice. But it is important to work out just who is giving money (the author is giving part of his income to the publisher and retailer. The reader is giving money TO THE AUTHOR that gets divvied up between the retailer, the publisher, and author), and who is taking it (the author, the publisher and the retailer. All need not to be an asshole to the reader. And the retailer and publisher need to be sure they provide value and manage not to be an asshole to author who actually produces the product. Parts of this are dispensable, and lousy value or bad behavior will mean the author who has loyal readers can do so). Traditional Publishing doesn’t seem to have grasped this nettle yet.

To move on:

As a writer – even an old hack like me, you are putting huge amount of yourself into your book. You are, like it or not, exposing yourself in a way that makes nudity look prudish. If you’re putting that book up there for the public, you can expect some of that public to read it. If you’re doing that, being that ‘naked’ about your innermost self… well if you’re doing for people you hate… you sure as hell don’t have much respect for yourself, do you?

When I write I do it as I would do for one that I love. For each and every reader who is, in a way, alone with me in their head. The reader who rewards me with the sincerest form of flattery for that. I do not write for people who are paid to edit it, or proof it, or even write reviews of it.

Write for readers. Love them, and you will succeed (and that’s not just about money, or numbers)

Talking of changing times, of obsolescence and the response to it… We’ve had an excellent post from Amanda Green , and Dorothy Grant about the change in e-book earnings. We’ve had the establishment lackeys pooh-poohing it, as they have to, because they write to please their publisher, to whom this news is anathema of the worst kind. However, perhaps it takes an engineer to see what is going on best. John Carlton does a great overview here – and brings up a fascinating reaction to these changing times, and the traditional publisher response to it.

You want to guess what a rational response would be?

Getting the right book to the right reader – matching product with customer?

Nope. A silly idea. The author has pleased the editor, that’s all that’s important.

Making e-books affordable and popular to save on the distribution and printing costs of paper?

Goodness NO! Their strategy is to PROTECT the print market by putting up the prices of their e-books.

Setting up a POD system in the remaining brick mortar stores so that people can have expert staff to help them find books?

Daft idea! Bookstore retail staff are not required to love or enjoy reading anymore. They must love retail.

Making sure that editorial, proofing, and marketing have a substantial edge on the services a self-publisher has, to make it worth Authors sticking to the Tradpub model, because their products sell enough units to make them more profitable at 17.5% of cover they get on those e-books as opposed to the 70% they get from Amazon?

Well. No. Editorial numbers are dropping. Proof quality is down. Publicity is mostly outsourced to… the Author, who is supposed to do it for free.

Moving from Manhattan to cheaper places for office space and livable staff salaries?

Wash your mouth out with soap!

No, they’re increasing their warehouse space – at huge expense, for paper books, by thousands and thousands of square feet.

Makes perfect sense… to someone. I am sure. Somewhere, someone MUST think it is a good idea.

Here’s my prediction: within the next five years, someone –probably Amazon – will drop the price of Print On Demand paper books to BELOW current paperback prices. They’ll probably offer you a choice of binding too (so you can have a hardcover if you want one) for considerably less than trade or hardback.

That will eat the remaining traditional publishers and chain bookstores AND all the warehouse space, just as the Indies are eating their e-book sales.

But don’t worry. They’ll keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market.

BTW. My thanks to the people who gave me such good advice about photographing the dolphins. I listened.dolphinJamie1

70 Comments

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70 responses to ““Like you would do for one that you love…”

  1. I’ve read three new, to me, authors after free first chapter samples. So yes it works. It’s a bit like the first sample is free and now you have to pay for more, but it allows one to sample stuff and find new delicacies to enjoy.

    • It definitely works. And it works two ways. Firstly you get people to try it, like it and buy it. Secondly you get people to try it, not like and not buy it. A customer who does not like what they paid for is a real millstone :-).

      • That is something people frequently forget. If you can winnow out non-customers quickly before they (and you) invest too much time, money and effort into the potential purchase that’s a win.

        Only a very few special assholes get upset with reading a snippet of a book they might buy and deciding they don’t like it. A lot of people get upset and leave 1* reviews when they buy a book without a snippet and find they hate it from somewhere in the middle of the first page

      • The Baen model: oh, you get that first book free. The second is fairly cheap. And now I’m paying full price for every other book as soon as it comes out because I’m hooked?

        That only works when you have aot of confidence in the readability of your authors. And makes Baen editors & editrices the only ones in recent years whot truly deserve that Hugo.

        • Bjorn Hasseler

          That’s an excellent point. A number of people have posted that they didn’t cast votes in the Hugo editor categories because they had no way to assess editors. The success of the “crack” model of marketing does indicate a high level of trust in author, editor, and publisher.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    Considering Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s ugly public behavior towards JCW’s wife, Castro has a lot of nerve. Of course, not a single person on the other side has condemned PNH for what he did. Not one.

  3. Someone is delusional about what the future of books are. Only time will time will tell, but given the evidence presented so far from the publishers, the last remaining bookstore chain and the earnings/sales reports, I think it’s likely the traditional publishers.

  4. While it’s true that one and all in the publishing chain need to not be assholes to the reader, the average reader thinks of the author as the sole source of the book. So for the average reader, the author is the only one whose behavior counts. And in the average reader’s mind, the publishing chain being the asshole is likely to be attributed to the author as well, because that is who the reader sees by name.

    So, yeah, best to not be tied to assholes, lest you too be marked with their taint.

    • Very, very true, Reziac. Great observation. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been blamed for covers (which I’d never been shown and had no input on), for proof reading, for bad delivery, for loose pages… Why would that not hold true for ‘your publisher is an asshole’?

  5. Amazing Adam Troy Castro commenting on somebody. Online at the SFF.net politics discussion board he feels it’s perfectly fine to berate and insult any Republican/conservative who disagrees with him. Then if a person isn’t nice in his reply the moderator bans that person He also feels it’s ok to lie about about that person online.

  6. Pingback: Whose Approval Matters to You? | Novel Ninja

  7. A few comments, that sort of touch on this.
    The first: PRICING
    Someone really needs to do an article on pricing here, because I see a lot of indies charging some very high prices for their ebooks. Oh, not the 14.99 that Ace and Penguin, and the like want to charge, but still fairly high for books aren’t terribly long. Yes, you make more money per copy, but are you selling enough copies to make up for the loss of sales you would have gotten at the ‘old standard’ price point of 2.99/3.99?
    I think we should have a discussion on this, as that price point is part of what helped me sell 20K books last year, and (hopefully) 40K this year. I got enough comments to the fact that my low price point brought in readers.

    The second: PIRATES!
    Yeah, I deal with this a lot. I’m pretty heavily pirated, as there are people who are too cheap to pay 2.99/3.99 for a book. Those same people seem to express surprise that you will stop writing if you’re not paid for it. I (used to – no longer) write scifi stories occasionally for the ‘anthro’ fandom. It paid poorly (because it’s not a big market for scifi), but I did it because I enjoyed it. But that fandom is now over 50 percent pirates, it’s become a major part of their ‘culture’. So I stopped (mid trilogy) as the piracy went to insane levels. The point being, if you want to be paid, versus just being read, you need to stay away from those ‘genres’ that have high piracy rates. The whole bit about pirates ‘buying’ your book if they like it, or leaving ‘positive reviews’ or putting money in your tip jar? BS. They don’t do it, people steal because they’re cheap and they’re selfish, they are not altruistic.

    Anyway, discuss?

    • Re: piracy, a lot of authors do not care because the thieves are not their customers. If they have a lot o f paying customers, who cares what everybody else is doing?

      OTOH, if you are not getting a good return on your investment of time and effort, it does not matter why; it just matters that you are not getting sales and making money.

      On the gripping hand, it seems foolish to stop mid-trilogy and deny oneself the long tail of sales. If anthro fans are not buying, perhaps one should market to other segments of the reading population instead, and regard any anthro sales as a lagniappe.

      Obviously it is hard to get over disappointment in a fandom one loved, but there are more fans and readers outside the organized fandoms than are in them, these days. With the huge number of paying fans of paranormal romances, urban fantasies, and regular sf/f who love shifters, there are probably a huge number of readers out there whom you have not tapped. Get them and have ongoing income.

      • I started out writing ‘anthro’ or ‘furry’ stories before I even knew it was a fandom, I was a Cordwainer Smith fan, among others of the same stripe. When I discovered that fandom, I started writing some stuff specifically for it (that I now have since put into an anthology and sold). There were a few good editors who I wrote for (their fanzines) and I learned a lot from one of them.

        Now, hard scifi is a tough sell these days, and ‘anthro’ or ‘furry’ scifi is an even harder sell. The return on your investment (Time, Cover Art, Editor) is low, and it takes time for it to generate, because the majority of people who will buy it are the members of that fandom. The average reader, won’t read it, because of the rather poor reputation of that fandom.

        Those are just the facts of that market.

        I wasn’t planning on writing a sequel to the rather large book I’d first written years ago, but there were a lot of requests, and over the years there were enough sales to generate an audience. I knew the return going in would be low, but decided to do it. Call it a ‘labor of love’ (always a mistake in business).

        Two months after I published it, it was so popular in the ‘fandom’ that a few fans decided to go back and pirate -everything- anthro I’d written (which is about 5 books), and post it all over the place. Sales for -all- of the anthro stuff I’d written over the years for that fandom went from ‘slow’ to ‘pitiful’ overnight. When I consequently posted that I was done writing for them, some whined and complained about ‘how could I stop writing just because I wasn’t getting paid’. The concept of artists getting paid for their work was inconceivable to them, literally.

        I know a lot of comic artists, who do stuff in the genre. Most of the successful ones do ‘go fund me’ for their work. They don’t do anything unless paid upfront, by their fans. Now I see why, pirating is rampant, and everyone there think artists should work for free. So the only way book 3 gets written, is if I get enough people interested to pay up front. Maybe in a few years there will be, but right now, there is no ‘long tail’, I’m not losing a dime by giving up on them, I am in fact making money by doing so.

        In my other writing, I get pirated as well (all my books are pirated within 12 hours of being published) but it’s only a small percentage of my ‘readers’ who pirate, so small that I really can’t gauge it, probably less than five percent. So I make a good return on my time and money invested there. So that is where I write, and that was the point of that second point, if you’re being pirated so heavily by a group of fans who love your work, but won’t pay for it, that you are losing money, then you should stop writing for them, and go write for the people who will pay you money.
        That, or get paid up front.

        • B. Durbin

          “some whined and complained about ‘how could I stop writing just because I wasn’t getting paid’. The concept of artists getting paid for their work was inconceivable to them, literally.”

          I think I’m just going to keep saying this every time a comment like this comes up. “Exposure is what you die from when you don’t get paid.” Hammer it into their little skulls long enough and SOME of them might get it.

    • Uncle Lar

      I have a passing acquaintance with the bootleg (ie pirate) culture. I’ve found them strangely protective of Baen. Requests for any Baen author typically get met with “it’s Baen, no DRM, affordable books, back off!”
      Tradpub stuff, not so much. Personally, I budget $54 each quarter for the full Baen output and set aside a bit each month to try new authors from Amazon through recommendations here, at ATH, Larry C. and a few other trusted folk.
      Pricing? Since the break at Amazon between 30 and 70% is at $2.99 I hold anything under that suspect unless it’s a short. If it’s more than $4.99 there has to be a compelling reason for me to need that particular item. And if I feel that the authors through their publishers are ripping me off I’m inclined to return the favor. Wait and buy used, get it from the library, borrow from a friend, all viable alternatives that pay the publishing house and unfortunately the author precisely sweet FA.
      True story: when Harry Potter was the hot new thing Scholastic, Rowling’s US publisher, was death on e-books, wouldn’t even consider them. I know for a fact that with each new release of at least her last three books there was a clean complete e-book on the usual sites within 24 hours. Seems that teams who objected to the ban split the work into chapters, scanned them, then reintegrated and posted. I was not involved in this, but watched with some interest. Personally, I purchased four copies of each of those last three with my Costco discount. One copy for myself and the rest for a teacher who was not only a fan, but liked to loan copies out to her students. Figured it was my obligation to aid and abet the dissemination of my affliction to the young.

      • Baen is pretty lucky then. I don’t DRM, and I keep my prices low.
        Hell, I asked the main pirate site to please take my stuff down after a couple of weeks, and at least write me reviews.

        They did neither of course. Oh, they gave me the ‘well, those who really like your books will buy them, we’re just helping you with exposure’ line. Which was complete tripe, witnessed by the fact that come book 5 of the series, they were still pirating. But at least they pretty much keep it to one site and don’t spread it far and wide, and they’re a small percentage. So I just live with it, not like I have a choice, right?

        But with the ‘furry’ fandom, I did have a choice, and for now, I’m taking it.

        • Uncle Lar

          Not faulting you in the least for your decision John. Only consolation I can offer is that the cheap bastards would never have paid real money in any case. I suspect a bunch of them don’t even really read what they scarf up. It’s just a game to them and free books is the way they keep score.

        • I think a lot of readers have very little idea of how authors get paid, let alone how much they get paid. In fact I think they often assume every author is a JK Rowling and don’t realize that most aren’t anything of the sort. It might do those particular pirates – or visitors to the site – some good if you documented how much (or how little) you actually got paid and even better if you added a clear note about if even N of the people who downloaded the book for free from the pirate site actually paid you the measly $2.99 you’d be able to devote mreo of your time to writing

          • THIS! This in spades, steam-shovel loads even. Most readers (especially Australians, paying AU$20+ for a paperback) are horrified to find what the Author gets paid – $0.64. They imagine that most authors are Richard Castle if not JK Rowlings. We NEED to break this illusion. On the other hand neither retail nor Traditional Publishing want us to. (There are clauses forbidding making contract info public in most writer contracts) – because it really, really makes them look bad.
            Fact: new author advances were around 5k for a book (and that was all you’d earn) in 2000.
            Fact: new author advances now… 4K is good. 2K happens.
            Fact: outside of the very few, even the luvvies will not get more than 12.5K for a book. For 90% of midlisters that’s 5-10K. And that is all they’ll ever see.

            Fact: I’m in the upper 10% of trad authors, in earning, with a 16 year career. Fact, over that career my best year was $35K. My first was 5K, my median around 17K. And I earn out and earn royalties.

            I find when people hit these realities, for a lot of them, piracy becomes heinous. It’s like robbing the desperate guy who does a great job of washing your car for a nickel, to feed his kids. It would be more effective than DRM… BUT most authors are touchy about revealing how ‘unsuccessful’ financially they are. (In relative terms they’re not.) Our society measures worth in money. Authors are thin skinned and insecure enough. And publishers and retail are in no hurry to say “well Joe Noob’s book earned gross 70 000 bucks, cost us 30 000 and we gave him 4000. Don’t steal from him.”

            • B. Durbin

              I once exploded a guy’s comment about “rich authors” (as in a lot of them) using HIS link to the top 100 paid authors. I pointed out that the data were gathered over a decade, so you had to divide by ten, some of the authors in question were dead (Shakespeare, for example), and once you’d gone to the bottom of the list, the person on the bottom was making just barely over 6 figures. And then I pointed out that if these were the top 100, every other author in this world of seven billion was making less.

              He’d never run the numbers. It had never occurred to him to do the math. And he stated afterwards that he’d been under a total misconception of what authors make.

              • B. Durbin

                It was something like this link, which means I was a bit off on my low end author (closer to high six figures than low.) But still, when you’re talking about the top 100, that means people below that aren’t millionaires by any stretch.

        • Ravenshrike

          Firstly, if you’re seeing 50% of downloads as pirated than the actual number of pirates(defined as someone who didn’t buy the book) is inherently less than 50% unless there was an uptake rate of zero. Secondly, the argument against digital copying is twofold. The fact that the vast majority of those who don’t buy it never would have bought it anyway, so you have lost nothing of import and possibly gained a certain number of paying customers and the fact that any form of DRM, especially as regards the written word, is utterly ineffectual at its stated purpose and solely increases cost and frustration. Thus the only important question is regardless of the piracy aspect, would you still be writing for the fandom?

      • Oh dear. Another person who thinks libraries don’t pay the publisher. Libraries not only pay, they pay MORE for the privilege of loaning it out, and they don’t do returns.

        You want star treatment, go with a collections manager/selector to ABA/BookExpo.

    • I am not an author (yet), but I write iOS apps for a living when I am working a day job. There are some statistics there that I suspect are relevant here.

      1) They found that there was very little difference in the purchase rates for $ 0.99 apps and $ 4.99 apps. In other words, a couple of extra bucks didn’t seem to deter people. They were all in the “impulse buy” range that allowed people to pick them up without much thought to the price.

      2) Anything MORE expensive than $ 4.99 seemed to kick in some kind of filter, and people began looking a lot more carefully at the thought of buying the app.

      3) People were less invested in apps for which they had paid less. If a person paid $ 0.99 for an app, they perceived the quality as less than the same app that they paid $ 2.99 or $ 4.99 for. In other words, even though the price didn’t have an effect on their decision to buy, they rationalized the purchase of the more expensive apps by assigning them a greater utility and capability than the same app at a lower price.

      All of this together has made me think that I will probably debut my first novel at $ 4.99. Of course, it is entirely possible that the buying rationale for ebooks and mobile phone apps are different enough that one can’t apply the conclusions from the app store world to Kindle books, but I am going to try it out and see what happens.

      David

      • Well, a lot of research was done by a number of people a few years back, and the sweet spot was found by them to be 2.99/3.99. Personally I would not recommend that you put your first book out at 4.99, because a lot of people are not prepared to risk 4.99 on an unknown author. I used to price just about everything at 2.99, and I still have the first book at my current series priced at that, and I’ve gotten a lot of emails telling me that at 2.99 they felt okay about taking a risk and reading it.

        I now have all of the sequels at 3.99, even though one of them is over 90K words long. I have struggled with the idea of raising prices to 4.99 (I did raise several from 2.99 to 3.99 early in the year), but my experience, and that of the authors I’ve talked with in the past, is that sales do tend to drop when you pass 3.99, and it seems to be enough of a drop that it can cost you. Yes, I do see authors charging more than I do, but I notice that their sales ranks are worse than mine, so I don’t think they’re doing better (I could be wrong of course).

        All I really know is that when I see a book at 4.99 and it’s less than 60K words, unless I know it’s by a good author, I won’t buy it, I feel it’s just priced too high. For ebooks priced higher than 4.99, it better be really good (and long) or I won’t buy it. 5.99 is usually my ceiling for an ebook and I rarely spend that, unless it’s a boxed set, or something equally big in size, but I don’t buy many 5.99 ebooks that are from indies, just publishers who tend to market at higher prices.

        Remember, apps (and music) are different than books. Those are things you use over and over. Most people only read a book once, so they seem to be stingier on price.

        • Well, that is one of the factors for the higher price. The current version (only one chapter left to go, YEAH! but then editing, SIGH) weighs in at 160k words. So, it is not like you aren’t going to be getting a lot of poundage for your money.

          • When your book first comes out of the gates, it gets the most notice it is ever going to get, because it’s NEW. So you really want to strike with a low price, like say 3.99 to get the people buying it, and to get those critically important reviews. To get people talking about you, to get Amazon to help promote you by putting your book on their charts. You can always raise the price up later (raising price a dollar after a book has been out a while really doesn’t seem to have much of an affect on sales, at least not that I’ve seen).

            You can always say ‘on sale for the first month’ and that may even drive more people to look at the sample in their urge to say a buck.
            Just my opinion, good luck!

    • John – those pirates – if they were unable to steal would they buy MY book?
      In my case I suspect not. So what have I lost?

      Pricing: I’m with you on this. Especially for new authors, anything over 4.99 is a waste of time IMO. First book, unknown, I’d start $2.99. I’m pricing mine – as I have a few readers at $3.99 for now. But this is still a changing field IMO.

      • Some would. These people have money, more than enough, but they’ll always try to steal something first, then buy it if they can’t.

        And in the fandom? Yes, most of them would. Because there are so few people creating for them, if they can’t steal it, they pay for it, because they want it. That’s why most of the work is now ‘pay up front’.

        • ‘Pay up front’ – that’s an interesting model and one I can see gaining traction in those markets. Of course it’s going to be necessary to have the following to get that.

          • There was the storyteller’s bowl approach a few years ago. It seemed to work for some folks, although the biggest problem was that the authors expected the fans would take time buying the next installment, and the fans usually overpaid and expected the next installment NOW! I’m also seeing quite a few anthologies and such going to Kickstarter, and I’ve at least seen people saying nice things about Patreon. So we’ve got some tools that are beginning to fill in that space.

            • Hmm. Speaking personally as a way I’d approach it: what do you think of the idea ‘I have the book, I’ll release it if/when I get X in pre-orders?

              • Makes sense to me? Heck, you could lay out a kickstarter program with “I have the book” and when this many preorders come in, I’ll get cover art and ship, and if we overrun by this much, we’ll do hardback instead of paperback… Let the fans decide just how much of a production run they want to pay for? I do think being able to say, “I already have the book so it will go directly into production” beats “I’m going to write the book as soon as you ante up enough, and then it will go into production.”

      • John – those pirates – if they were unable to steal would they buy MY book? In my case I suspect not. So what have I lost?

        That’s an interesting take. I was going to do an AA type comment because I’ve used DRM. The reason? I’m scared, but replying here is better. I don’t know if someone who would pirate my one book if it was DRM free would buy it because it does have DRM. I was really scared on that one, because quintuple checking my calculations and making the tables took quite a bit of effort.

        Part of my fear is because piracy has always been a thing for much of my life. There was piracy of opportunity, such as kids recording songs off the radio or at concerts; then there was piracy for greed, such as mass producing and selling pirated music; and then there was piracy for the challenge of the thing. And really, all DRM stops is piracy of opportunity, my stuff isn’t all that good that there’s a huge commercial demand, and cracking DRM isn’t much of an accomplishment to attract the third category of piracy.

        Yet I’m still fearful.

        “Hi. I’m Kevin. I have a problem. I use DRM.”

        • DRM doesn’t stop piracy. For pirates, DRM is barely a hiccup, if they want it they’ll get it. What it does do is keep the technology illiterate from moving it from one of their devices to another of their devices. A quick google search and 15 minutes installing/configuring and most people can have their entire eLibrary stripped of DRM. There are a few people I know that refuse to purchase anything with DRM.

          So, my mother can’t move her library from her Nooks to another device in the future, but I can move my library to any device I wish; even though half of our libraries are comprised of the same eBooks.

        • Those of us who’ve been reading ebooks for a while hate DRM with a passion because, eventually, it stops working and you can’t read whatever was protected by it.

          I’ve lost a bunch of books to DRM and I would have lost more except that I cracked it. To be honest I don’t miss the books I lost – I lost them mostly because I didn’t care to crack them – but the fact that had I not cracked the others means I would have lost them does kind of annoy.

          DRM is one of those things that sounds good until you think about the cost/benefit ratio

          Right now I think it is fair to say that there is basically 0 benefit. Pretty much ALL DRM schemes can be cracked in minutes by a knowledgeable pirate. So DRM fails all the time anyway in any practical sense. Moreover even if pirate A can’t crack the book he can readily find a place where pirate B can give him instructions or just a link to pirate C’s copy of the cracked book.

          OTOH when it doesn’t work for legitimate reader Z that reader is (justifiably) hopping mad and reader Z will leave scathing reviews about the shitty book that he couldn’t read all over the place so that non-readers Y & X may well decide to skip the book even though they might otherwise like it. Moreover reader Z will likely decide to boycott any sequels or works by the same author because he doesn’t want to get bitten again.

          So the cost of DRM is fairly high and the benefit is zero. Tell me why you want to do this?

          • Because Stephen King tried it years ago with an online chapter book that worked on the honor system, and discovered his readers had very little honor. Because some of Asimov’s books wound up on Scribed some time back. Because we all have been around casual piracy of some sort, maybe without realizing it. Because by some of the anti-DRM arguments you might as well not put locks on the door because people can break out a window. And because most of the “what people do” anti-DRM arguments are based on guesswork, not hard data.

            What is hard data are publishers like Tor who dropped DRM and noticed no difference in sales. While that meant that they didn’t lose any more from piracy, it also meant they didn’t see an increase in sales. This fits with David Freer’s argument that pirates unable to crack DRM wouldn’t buy his books anyway.

            BTW, if someone cites the quite true survey that there are more sales of non-DRM books than DRM books, note that it doesn’t take into account that most DRM books are overpriced because they come from traditional publishers. What part is due to no DRM and what part to lower price?

  8. Over on The Passive Voice, it was pointed out in the comments that the “increase” of warehouse space is part of an overall slashing of warehouse space by the big publishers, if you go back and look at the reports of warehouse closings from last year. (Possibly they have been moving to more modern and efficient warehouses, a la Amazon, but it may be putting a good face on slow ruin.)

    • Jeff Duntemann

      This puzzled me. It looks as though the big tradpubs were *sure* that if they hiked ebook prices via agency they’d make scads more money from print books because ebooks would not be putting pressure on industry pricing. (Hence the investment in more warehouse space.) And once again, it looks as though the big tradpubs assume that they’re the only publishers in the world. My books (and yours, and those of a great many other indies) are still putting pressure on industry pricing.

      Slow ruin indeed. Willful blindness is the most dangerous kind.

      • Well, they’re liberals, and dynamic analysis is beyond them. They’re the same folks who think they can raise taxes infinitely and keep getting more money.

    • Interesting. Spin rather than actuality. It could be.

  9. Chris Chittleborough

    Talking about Baen, I see we fans of Freer have something to look forward to in their April 2016 releases.

    • Woot! Thanks for pointing that out, Chris!

    • Oh. Well thank you for pointing it out! 🙂 I knew it was coming out out, obviously, but was under the impression it was June. (Sigh). You know, this is one area Baen is as bad as the rest. They leave 95% of the promotion to the authors, but keep us in the dark. Why the the trivial effort and elementary good sales technique of telling authors about covers, about release dates, about anything they can use to promote the book is SOOOO hard is beyond me.

  10. I started at $4.99, and as the second and now third books are out, I’ve dropped the prices on the first two to $1.99 and $2.99. It seems to be working to some extent. Pirates gonna pirate… We can either accept that today, or quit writing… I never got into this to support myself, but more to give me something productive to do while on travel. I’m also writing to a niche market, and I know I’ll never get the broad readership some folks enjoy. Just my $.02 worth…

    • I put my first indie book at 7.99 because of my other books with trad sources. However, it’s going to 3.99 when second book comes out and second book which is smaller will be 4.99 to begin with, then come down and first will go to 2.99 when third comes out 😉

    • I’m looking at a ‘release window’ of say 2 weeks, in which the new book will be ?3.99. It will then go to a bit more pricy ?4.99, until the next is out. And so on. I don’t know if that’ll work, but it’s an idea.

  11. Joe in PNG

    [rhetorical question]Does Tradpub not grok the whole ebook convenience thing? That I don’t want to head across town to a brick & mortar store to buy a book that may not be there? [/rhetorical question]

    I’ve realized that for many in the heights of tradpub, a book is a sort of status symbol, a thing to be seen with- call it Conspicuous Reading. A hardcover books is one of those things where it is obvious that one is reading the hip tome of the moment, and can call attention to that fact. When done, that book can be obviously displayed on the shelf with other books on the approved list for the purpose of impressing other literati hipster snobs.

    But a Kindle… whell, how can I show off what I’m reading with one of those?

    • Maybe they’ll push for a kindle with a ‘display cover’ (and you can read Freer, while the cover shows ‘if you were a dinosaur’ :-))

    • Wallpaper for your computer and posters for the walls? Take that cover art and turn it into fan goodies, then let them decorate. (Says the guy who has Shlock Mercenary calendar wallpaper on his computer, and is wearing A Few Good Men t-shirt…)

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  13. dgarsys

    I’m amazed at that Castro article – both for it’s (apparent) passive-agressive slam at JCW (which ignores any dick moves the publisher/editor made to precipitate issues) and for seeming to think that it’s the publishers who are the source of money in the equation.

    • Basically I suspect he’s a ‘Grace and favor’ author, given the lucrative tie-ins because he is sweetheart who runs off killing troublesome priests for them. Without pleasing the publishing establishment he’d have a handful of readers – most of the comments on his blog are from similar ‘client-authors’ not readers. So to him, yes, publishers ARE the source of money.

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  15. richardmcenroe

    Breaking news! Wendi has been signed to do a new SW novel! The announced title is, ‘ If You Were A Rancor, My Love.’