Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:07
jane, i'm with you --- i may not always have been commissioned to do something, but i have always had a gut feeling of "X might want this/this might work for Y". and these days i dont have that feeling about anything --- and i ignore my instincts at my peril. i just dont feel i have the equiv of a huge amway donwnstream network; i hate feeling of arm-twisting people into buying/reading my work.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:19
Well, get used to it, because that's the future, as we'll discuss when it's time to stir the music biz into this gumbo. Meanwhile, I refer to mine as a "thingle," because it's not an official Single (and is selling like it isn't, too!), but I was offered 70% except for sales in the .de and .uk stores, where I have to accept 30%.
Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:26
As soon as I finish the book I;m working on, I'm going to do something for the Atavist. It's such a great idea (the magazine I mean), the people are wonderful, the production values rule, and they even pay a little up front, or at least they said they would. I can't get similarly excited about kindle singles. It seems like it would be like working for Wal-Mart.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:27
#52 This is a broader theme running across a lot of media distribution platforms from music, to publishing to journalism in both the transition to digital as well as the collapse of 'old systems'.
Jacques Leslie (jacques) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:40
The Atavist is paying me $5K upfront, but beyond that it will pay me only 35% of sales, compared to Amazon's 70%. On the other hand, the story will appear on a number of platforms, including both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:44
That's exactly the deal we discussed, although we also left open a question about expenses, as the piece requires big travel. Seems to me there was a story in there about Amazon trying to squash the Atavist, but I can;t remember what it was. As for uncurated self-publishing, like Lulu or XLibris, a quick look at the ads that run in teh new York Review of Books (and possibly elsewhere) make me think that these companies are predatory upon authors in ways that the traditional publishers could only dream of. Which doesn't mean you can't use them more than they use you, but I don't think that's happening with most of their writers.
Sharon Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:50
<scribbled by slf Fri 5 Aug 11 21:51>
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 5 Aug 11 15:50
I'm curious about the pricing. Forgive me for not having all of the links at hand, but just starting to collect them: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Haiku-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B0057IYMF4/ Jane's $0.99 Single (editorial acceptance & pricing by KS program) http://www.amazon.com/War-Wounds-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B004Q7CHHM/ Jacques' $1.99 Single (editorial acceptance & pricing by KS program) http://www.amazon.com/Bar-End-Regime-ebook/dp/B005DYLXXG/ Ed's $3.99 Kindle Edition (self-published, was it self-priced?) http://www.amazon.com/Arm-Leg-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B005F0YTE8/ Past Inkwell guest author and WELL extended-family-member Emma Span's $0.99 Single (editorial acceptance & pricing by KS program) So the first question I have is why are Jacques and Ed charging more, and is there any way of knowing what effect that has on your sales?
Jacques Leslie (jacques) Fri 5 Aug 11 16:30
To end, type . (a period) on a line by itself All the KS authors get to choose their own price. I talked about pricing with the KS editor before they'd drawn any conclusions from pricing, in late February. The editor told me that most pieces around the length of mine (6,000 words) were going for $1.99, so I opted for that. By the time Jane submitted her piece a couple of months later, KS had much more experience with pricing, and had apparently concluded that the lower price was easily justified by greater sales. So Jane was advised to sell her piece at $.99 even though it's a lot longer than mine. So Jane went with $.99. I would have done the same if I'd had the same information (not that I have great regrets about how things turned out). Beyond the general conclusions that KS came to, it's impossible to know how a different price would have affected sales, of course.
Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 17:59
That's all right... I talked it over with people in the Well also, and heard good arguments for both sides. That the piece was "worth" more than 99 cents made sense, but so did offering it very low and hoping that would lead twice as many people to take a chance on it. The comment that swayed my heart though wasn't actually financial--it was one person's saying that it felt "generous to your readers" to practically give it away. I liked that, liked the feeling of it. As is it, I think it is probably true that more people bought it at under a dollar than would have at $2--but there is really no way to test the premise. The very highest selling Singles have been priced higher (Three Cups of Deceit, the Baldacci fiction one) and I suspect that if the Singles editor thinks something is going to be a really high seller, he'd suggest the $1.99 or even $2.99 price. How does price setting work at The Atavist? Re something above--I think this will probably be the only Kindle Single I do. It's the only piece I've ever done that quite fit this particular shoe, and while that could happen again in the future, I can't quite imagine how or when. I don't think I would set out to create one from scratch--this was a piece already written, that just needed to find its right form of going into the world. But I wouldn't hesitate if someone had a piece that was potentially right for a Single to tell them my experience with it has been a good one, and that they should try it if it feels right for what they have. One thing about the Singles rather than Atavist or Byliner.com is that its door is open to a broader range of things. I couldn't imagine the editors at those places breaking out in laughter if they'd gotten a submission about a 17th c Japanese poet in their inboxes. (oops, I mean, couldn't imagine them NOT breaking out in laughter) Those are very defined venues. The Singles is much more rangy, though mine is thus far by far the most literary thing they've yet done. My doing this was an experiment, and their doing it must have been an experiment too. No one could have been more surprised than I was when it was actually taken.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 6 Aug 11 05:46
I created a hashtag on Twitter to promote our discussion, it is #KS,etc. Feel free to promote our topic via your networks, the more the merrier.
Gary Gach (jonl) Sat 6 Aug 11 21:09
Via email from Gary Gach: reading topic closely, & with keen interest, and gratitudes -- a technopeasent (<ggg>) asks : " if i pay amazon 99¢ for 'the heart of haiku,' but don't have a kindle, or cellphone, or any of that, have i bought a pig in a poke? or can i read it in word in my macbook?" (in any event, i'll post that link to it in the haiku corner i host for tricycle, <jh>; & it seems most of the reviews are from prior jane readers). btw, there's a survey of e-readers online : http://www.bookfanatics.com/video/video/listTagged?tag=eBookReaderReviews
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 7 Aug 11 02:30
The fine print, from Kindle Singles: Anyone can submit original work to Kindle Singles. We've showcased writing from both new and established voices--from bestselling novelists to previously unpublished writers. We're looking for compelling ideas expressed at their natural length--writing that doesn't easily fall into the conventional space limitations of magazines or print books. Kindle Singles are typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words. A Kindle Single can be on any topic. So far we've posted fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives, and profiles, and we're expanding our selection every week. We're looking for high-quality writing, fresh and original ideas, and well-executed stories in all genres and subjects. How to submit We will consider ebooks recently published via Kindle Direct Publishing, manuscript submissions, or pitches. To nominate your self-published book, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the title, ASIN, and a brief summary. If the work is not yet published, you can submit a manuscript or a detailed pitch for your Kindle Single. Send as much material as you have available to email@example.com and include your name and a writing sample. Writers or publishers wishing to propose an idea for a Kindle Single can write to our editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Selection process Each submission is carefully reviewed by our editors. Once your submission is received, we will read and respond within two weeks. If we are interested in your submission or pitch, we will provide you with further instructions on how to submit your title via Kindle Direct Publishing and any additional next steps. Rights and Royalties Accepted Kindle Singles are published using the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, which means that the author earns royalties on each sale. Kindle Singles must have list prices between $0.99 and $4.99, and authors can choose the 70% royalty option for their accepted titles, even when the list price is below $2.99. All other Terms and Conditions of Kindle Direct Publishing will also apply to content sold as a Kindle Single. Writers retain all rights to their work when accepted and published in Kindle Singles. We will consider Kindle Singles from authors, publishers, and agents, and you will need to confirm that you have the rights to publish the work you upload. If accepted, your Kindle Single must be made available in all territories where you have rights, so Kindle customers around the world have the option to purchase your title. Like all Kindle books, Kindle Singles are buyable and readable across the entire Kindle family of devices, as well as on our Free Kindle Reading Apps (Kindle for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, Mac, PC, BlackBerry, Android, etc.). Kindle Singles Criteria Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words List price: $0.99 to $4.99 Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work Not published on any public website in its entirety We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children's books.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 7 Aug 11 02:35
Gary, thanks for the link and post to Tricycle. Yes, if you have the Kindle app on your Mac, you can read it....on Word, I'm not so sure....any Mac folks here that have tried that? This, from KDP: With Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) you can self-publish your books on the Amazon Kindle Store. It's free, fast, and easy. Books self-published through KDP can participate in the 70% royalty program and are available for purchase on Kindle devices and Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. With KDP, you can self-publish books in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and specify pricing in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros. You will also find useful information on our active community forum
Ed Ward (captward) Sun 7 Aug 11 02:49
Mac guy here: no, you can't read Kindle stuff in Word, but if you don't already have the app (I have one for my iPhone and for my laptop), when you go to a Kindle book to download it, you'll find all the various apps there for quick and free download. After you download it, you can buy my book. Err, a book.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 7 Aug 11 05:33
LOL, thanks Ed.
Ed Ward (captward) Sun 7 Aug 11 05:57
I'm about to try something new when I go on vacation next week. Some time ago, I signed up for the University of Chicago's free e-book program: one of their books each month. I was curious what they were publishing more than anything. Well, last month they delivered something that really interested me -- the first in the Judge Dee series that Dutch guy wrote. So I downloaded it only to find that I also had to download something called Adobe Digital Editions. As you might expect, this is an app which doesn't play well with others: there's no provision for putting it on my iPhone, the first place I ever read an entire novel (Red Mars, for those keeping track at home, and yes, it was sort of a stinker but a good road book), nor is there a provision for converting it to a Kindle-readable format -- or any other kind of format. The interface looks nice, though, and I also found this month's book, a travel book about land art, interesting for the book I'm going to be writing, so I nabbed it, too. So we'll see how this adventure goes. Not sure how to link to the U Chi freeb program, though.
Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sun 7 Aug 11 07:37
Gary, thanks for that. (I'm about to go offline for a week by the way, to teach a poetry workshop at Tassajara, so thinking about the community at Tricycle for this is brilliant, thank you.) While your question's already answered, I'll just say, once a person has downloaded the free app for reading these on a Mac, PC, Android, or whatever, you can even download a FREE SAMPLE of all these books before committing the 99 cents. So they are the opposite of a pig in a poke--you can tell what they are before paying even one penny, let alone 99 of them. Beyond that, they are returnable. If a person hates their Kindle Single, they can have a refund. (Presumably Amazon would notice repeat offenders who are just reading and returning everything in sight--but no Tricycle community member would do that.) You're right that a lot of the reviews are by people already familiar with my other books. I've been kind of happy to see the ones that aren't still think it's worth five stars. What's interesting to me is that most of the buyers are not people who know my work at all--it's people who buy other Kindle Singles and bought this one. (You can tell that by the "people who bought this also bought" feature on the book's page--it always comes up as other Kindle Singles or at least other e-books on haiku and such, not my own books.) Anyhow, fabulous if you could let the Tricycle group, or any other Buddhist-poetry-interested crowd know this exists, once you've read it and if you like it enough to do that. There's a lot of Buddhism tucked in there along the way, since you can't read Basho or haiku fully without that background expanding the 17 syllables to their full meaning. Sorry to go on so long about this one question-- now back to the ongoing discussion of these formats in general. Just think: if I owned a Kindle, I could load it with a full library, bring it into Tassajara, and with its long battery life, read there for a month, it sounds. I wonder if anyone's brought one down for the winter yet.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 7 Aug 11 10:41
> We who participate in capitalist culture at all end up in fuzzy terrain a > lot of the time. Oh yes, that is so true. And in this realm as in all others, ideological purity can be a tedious bore. And counterproductive, too.
Ned Wall (nedwall) Sun 7 Aug 11 11:45
Here's a link to the current University of Chicago Press free e-book: <http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/freeEbook.html>. I entered my email address in the box and received a link to download the current book, but the email doesn't say anything about notifications of future free e-books. At the bottom of the page it says "Check back next month for another free e-book!" Adobe Digital Editions is used by some (many?) libraries to manage their e-book collections and opened when I downloaded the book. Loading it to my Nook was simple. The UChicago Press free e-books aren't (currently) available for Kindle. From the e-book download page: "(Unfortunately, Kindles will not be able to display this file.)" <captward>, several iPhone apps are listed on <http://blogs.adobe.com/digitalpublishing/supported-devices>, but I've never used them.
Joe Cottonwood (joecot) Sun 7 Aug 11 11:48
I've got 5 ebooks out there plus an ongoing blog, so maybe my experience would be relevant here. Three of my ebooks are simply re-releases of published novels that are out-of-print. One is a simultaneous ebook and print novel. One, my newest, is ebook only. The ebooks are available through Smashwords. Last month, all 5 of them were in the Smashwords top 10 bestseller lists for their respective categories (literary fiction for two, children's lit for two, young adult for one). They've probably dropped a little since July ended - I had a promotion going that ended July 31. It's not for money other than beer money (literally). Every 3 months, Smashwords sends me enough to buy a couple of cases of beer from Costco, and that's exactly how I spend it. Just to keep it real. When you self-publish with Smashwords, you devalue yourself to some extent because you are surrounded by dreadful drek. The good stuff only gets found if it has good reviews or good sales or good self-promotion. My print novel (Clear Heart) is available as a Kindle edition. Smashwords makes my other novels available in Kindle format, but I should probably make them simultaneously available as official Amazon Kindle editions so they'd be listed on the Amazon website. I'd get better exposure that way. More to say, but that's a start...
Ed Ward (captward) Sun 7 Aug 11 11:51
Yeah, it looks real tedious, and anyway, I can't find the books I've downloaded! I mean they're there when I open the ADE app, but I don't know where they downloaded to. No biggie; I'm trying a bunch of these. I found I'd also downloaded an app called Stanza to my iPhone. All I've got to read there are the instructions and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, though. Interesting slippage there!
Joe Cottonwood (joecot) Sun 7 Aug 11 12:07
I'd like to respond to some blog-bashing that was posted previously. Blogs need not be chatty or badly-written. And they don't vanish overnight. A few of my posts are still visited dozens - or hundreds - of times a week, 3 years after I wrote them, because they show up near the top of search engine results for certain topics such as "scooter board ramp" or "Terry Adams poet." I'm currently writing a book with the first draft being a blog. I'm sort of crowd-sourcing the editing. It's a memoir of my career as a contractor, with daily posts about the people I've met - the human side of construction. The blog is called "365-Jobs" (the dash became necessary because somebody already has a job-finding website called 365 Jobs). After I've posted 365 entries, or possibly a few more, I'll choose the best 100 or so and gather them into a book called "100 Jobs" or whatever number makes the cut. Obviously this wouldn't work if I were writing a novel, but for short discreet essays it's wonderful. I experiment with different styles, different voices, and get statistical feedback of how popular each piece is in addition to reader comments and email. I'm getting a pretty good of idea of what works and what readers want.
Ed Ward (captward) Sun 7 Aug 11 12:26
I agree about blogs. I've been blogging for years, and have done some of my best writing there. Not the kind of thing you could sell to someone, but something you could point someone to if they wanted to see if you could write or not. I've got a number I read every day that have a very high standard of literacy or challenging content. Who's been bashing blogs here? C'mon, you coward, let's go out back!
Paulina Borsook (loris) Sun 7 Aug 11 13:16
i am not a coward and i stand by my general aversion to blogs. however, fisticuffs i would rather avoid; intelligent people can disagree
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