So, I am finally getting…

So, I am finally getting on the ebook bandwagon. I have been really resistant to getting my stuff into ebook format, mostly because I am lazy. But Simone owes me five hours of hard labor (in trade for taking one of my local writing classes), and so today I met with her for an hour and put her on the job. She's going to:

  • contact my three small press publishers and find out if they're doing ebooks / audiobooks of my stuff, and if so, where I should link to, and if not, and they're not planning to do them in the next six months, can I have the rights back pretty please? (Does that seem like appropriate etiquette?)

  • try putting two of my stories into Kindle format (the two sequel stories to Bodies in Motion, "The Marrying Kind" and "Sequins")

  • ...and then we'll go from there.

Part of my hesitation has been not being sure what the best approach is. I have all kinds of questions:
  1. Do I take all the individual short stories (except possibly the ones from BiM, which I'm not sure I own anymore) and publish them for 99 cents each? (Less?)

  2. If I do that, do I take down the free web versions I have? Or is the web format sufficiently different from the Kindle / Nook / Ipad market that it won't matter much?

  3. Should I do little bundles of stories at a discount? (I.e., 15 erotica stories for $7 or some such?)

  4. Does it matter what genre they are? (I.e., just erotica? just mainstream? just SF/F?) What are my readers most interested in seeing me write more of?

  5. Is anyone interested in audiobook versions of my stuff? I.e., me reading it out loud.

  6. And if so, do I need to go rent a studio to do it all fancy, or can I just record it at home?

  7. If I did something like Bruce Boston, but less intense, committing to write a story a month for a year, delivered in ebook format to your mailbox, would anyone sign up? I'm kind of excited about writing a lot of short stories these days, but I am not excited about sending them out to magazines. This seems like a good compromise.

  8. And if I did it, how much should I charge for that? Does $10 for a dozen stories over a year seem reasonable? I don't think it'd be worth doing for less than that, since I'd probably be writing them at around 5000 - 10,000 words each, which is a day or two solid time commitment just for drafting.

There are probably more questions, but those will do to start. Help?

12 thoughts on “So, I am finally getting…”

  1. Some of these questions you can find for yourself by seeing how Amazon and B&N sell ebooks online. The erotica might be a good fit for ebooks, but even a bundle probably wouldn’t go for for that much, I’m afraid.

    I have an ereader, but as a writer I still fear this topic.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    There are plenty of ebook genre collections priced at around $9-$10, it looks like, although of course, I have no idea how many copies actually sell at that price point. Is there some particular reason you think a bundle wouldn’t go for $7, or was that just a gut reaction?

  3. Do you follow Tobias Buckell’s blog? He’s been experimenting with various price points with his stories and bundles of stories for a while now, and has also blogged about aggregate data from Kindle and Nook sales.

    If you do go with bundling stories (either in addition to or instead of singletons) it might be nice to have genre collections *and* samplers that include stories from a couple of different genres.

    As for audiobook, it would depend on where you sold them. Audible is the biggest distributor but their proprietary data format can’t be listened to on a linux computer. In fact, the one Audible book I bought over two years ago, I still haven’t listened to, because there’s no (legal) way for me to even transfer it to my iPod. Of course, depending on who your target audience is, you might not care about the listeners you’d lose going with Audible.

  4. I second Saira, get it touch with Tobias about how his collection did.

    That said (knowing I bought BiM and love your writing in general and own a Kindle):
    I would love an eBook of BiM. Getting them to make a Kindle version would make me happy. =p

    I think adding the 2 follow up stories to a BiM eBook offer as a free incentive would be neat. Barring that, those two stories as Amazon Freebies with a note about BiM (if eBook). I discover a lot of authors (and schlock) via the Amazon Kindle freebies.

    An Erotica collection (nicely formatted, see Tides from Other Worlds with Tobias) in eBook would be neat, IMO.

    I don’t know pricing. I’d pay $9.99 – $19.99 for 10-20ish short stories from an author I like for Kindle. I’d pay less if I knew I could get them for free, but I don’t know if I’d be pissed to find out after.

    I think web is different enough from Kindle (who has a web broswer but sorta sucks) but not necessarily iPad, as that has a good online browser. Potentially not do the free ones alone but as part of a bundle comprising half or less of the bundle?

    I have no opinion on Audio books, but I do like your voice.

  5. I think $12 or $15 for a dozen stories is good, as far as I am concerned. Maybe twice that for a paper copy. (I don’t have an e-reader.)

  6. Question 2 is the one that seems to have the easiest answer, so I’m gonna go with that one. No, I wouldn’t take down the free web versions. What I’d do is be sure to link to the Kindle / Nook / etc. versions on the story pages, and make it as easy as possible for readers to buy them.

    (Admittedly, I subscribe to the Doctorow/Coulton school of economics.)

    On a related note, do you read Courtney Milan’s blog? She’s negotiating some similar issues, and has smart things to say about them.

    Also, you are aware that there are Nook and Kindle versions of Bodies in Motion and Silence and the Word, right? (Also Kathryn in the City. I’m curious as to how well the conversion works, but not curious enough to pay the $10.99 to find out.)

  7. I work in publishing in NY, and am a writer myself. Some thoughts:

    If you are doing an e-book of a previously published title, price it lower than the cheapest available edition. So if the title is available from the publisher in both hardcover and paperback, price it lower than the paperback, at 80% or lower. That seems to be where the market is settling right now.

    Which is of more importance to you at this point: reaching a broader audience, or making more money? I know, I know, the ideal answer is both, but if you can only pick one? If it’s reaching a broader audience, the lower the price the better — Kindle users are willing to spend a couple of dollars on authors they’ve never heard of before, and you can get more new readers that way. There are a lot of Kindle titles available in the $.99-$2.99 range, and if you price your work much higher than that, you will miss out on that potential group.

    I can’t speak for all publishers, but I have worked for a few of the big ones, and from that perspective, I would say that unless your old titles’ contracts specifically mentioned e-book rights, the publishers don’t retain them. My current company’s policy was to contact each such author where we were interested in doing an e-book and say that we wanted to, and then add that clause to the contract. I think writing to your small publishers and asking them about their intent is a good idea. If they are really small publishers, they may not have been able to figure out how to approach doing e-books yet and will quickly affirm that you are free to go ahead. You can also ask your agent for his perspective on this.

  8. My reason for saying a bundle should be priced lower than you suggested is best answered by what the commenter above said. (“Kindle users are willing to spend a couple of dollars on authors they’ve never heard of before, and you can get more new readers that way. There are a lot of Kindle titles available in the $.99-$2.99 range, and if you price your work much higher than that, you will miss out on that potential group.”)

    I’ve been buying things for my nook, and noticing what things go for. At this point, what you want are new readers, who would then buy all your back catalog and then be super interested in your *next* book, for which they’d have to pay market price. And would, because by the time that comes out, they’ll be fans.

  9. I’ve been buying your books since Torn Shapes of Desire. I have an iPad, but don’t actually read much on it (though I do read some online HTML serials, some which cost, and bounce back and forth between my laptop and iPad), so I may not be your target market, or I may be an evolving one.

    1. I set up an account with one niche ebook vendor to read the serial of one author there. I put in $15 or $20 (tried to put in $20, found a bug in their system, probably dropped back to $15), have read 8 or 9 updates there at $.15 or so an episode and the author has dialed back his output because there isn’t traction there. This nudges me towards the “buy collections” side of things.

    2. I should probably pay for more than I read, but I do find excuses to send money to authors I enjoy if I can do that in fairly small ($10-20) non-recurring increments. I think having free versions lures readers in. Some authors seem to do okay by releasing serials an episode per week, but selling the entire book for $20.

    3. As mentioned, if you went with the $.99 per, I’d be buying the bundles.

    4. Characters that resonate, where you don’t shy away from the sex. I enjoy your erotica, I enjoy erotica generally, but past straight-up stroke stories I enjoy that authors of erotica are willing to actually tell stories that are less bogged down in characters mired in their cultural baggage. Not to dismiss cultural baggage, or struggles with it, I just enjoy when characters have the prospect of seeing further. What happens when Heath and Jake move to a coastal state, or aren’t generally losers, or…?

    Which, I guess, is why I also like SF.

    5. I’ve gotten into podcasts recently, I listen to Nobilis Erotica, Starship Sofa, a few others. I’d listen.

    6. I think they’re largely doing it with not much better than headsets in their basements or a spare closet.

    7&8. I don’t know Bruce Boston, but I think I’d try that out for ten bucks.

  10. I don’t think you need to go to a fancy studio for voice recording anymore. A friend who used to do voiceover work was just telling me that the industry is changing now, because you used to need to have connections to a studio and now all you need is an iPhone, because digital mikes have gotten so tiny and inexpensive.

    I can’t offer the same level of expertise as J, above, but if I were in your shoes, with a few projects poised and ready to get published, I’d bundle the stories and price them low-ish, and then market the hell out of them. Do interviews, write guest posts on publishing blogs, anything to get my name and titles in front of people’s faces.

  11. I recommend you read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog. He covers most of your questions and is doing so from experience (he and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch, both bestselling authors, have over 100 ebooks up between them, including collections).

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