Ian Sales discusses his experiences and sales after winning the BSFA for his self-published novella, Adrift on the Sea of Rains:
Commercially, Whippleshield Books has not been a “winner”. I’m okay with this – I didn’t set it up to make me pots of money. If anything, I expected it to be a financial burden for much of its life. Happily, it went into the black in March this year… but then the ecommerce annual fee came due and I also had to reprint Adrift on the Sea of Rains. But it’s been back in the black since the beginning of May and seems likely to remain there. Whether it’ll have earned enough to pay the cost of producing book three of the Apollo Quartet is a different matter, however. I’ve been funding Whippleshield Books out of my own pocket so far, so if it doesn’t it won’t affect my planned publishing schedule.
Ian throws out a handful of graphs, and gives some indication of where and how the majority of sales are coming about (hint: Kindle sales, gods help us all). There’s also some insight into what doesn’t affect sales, and observations about the luck factor of making it big in self-publishing. Worth a read, especially for self-publishers or writers still trying to decide which approach will work best for them.
Check it out here:
Look. It’s possible that I will never stop yelling at people about how DRM is expensive and doesn’t work, which is basically the business definition of ‘waste of time’. Until that time, I will continue to present you with evidence.
User ‘danps’ (sorry, I tried but couldn’t easily find any more attribution information), discusses how the publishing industry seemingly hasn’t learned anything from other media industries (this argument extends to the movie industry too, but that’s the same argument for another day):
Listeners hated DRM because it restricted their ability to enjoy the music they paid for. Towards the end of the last decade businesses began to realize that DRM could be a headache for them as well, so eventually they wised up. By the end of 2011 all the major music stores were DRM free.
Short version: It was a hassle and there were some growing pains, but in the end the industry figured out how to deliver its product in a way consumers were happy to pay for. Lessons learned, all’s well, hooray!
The lessons haven’t been learned as widely as some of us hoped; the book industry seems to have spent the last fifteen years in a state of suspended animation. It is in the process of making exactly the same kinds of mistakes the music industry was making a decade ago.
Danps describes his recent experience with a Barry Eisler sale on Amazon and comments:
The book industry isn’t there yet; it’s at odds with its customers. Readers want to be able to read the books they buy, publishers want locked down exclusives, and creators (even forward thinking ones like Eisler) are left to navigate those waters as best they can.
Read the rest here:
Abe Sauer says:
In March, I put together the fourth annual March Madne$$: The School Tuitions Of The NCAA Bracket. A popular piece, I watched as numerous sites reposted the work wholesale and sold ads against it.
That’s when I tried something new in the ongoing efforts of writers to get paid on the Internet. Instead of angry emails or cease and desist notes, I just sent invoices to site editors and managers.
His story touches on the hypocrisy of massive copyright-enforcing and -tantrumming media organisations, who blatantly repost, and often reformat, other writers’ articles and then sell ads against them.
In a way, too, it touches on sites such as this one, where I ramble a little about other articles I’ve found, and excerpt small sections. On the one hand, I’m not making any money here, but on the other, I am trying to make Literarium a useful source of writing-related information, hopefully so that when the software comes up you’ll take a look at it. So where do we draw the line? I draw the line at copying articles wholesale and spoiling the punchline, but is that enough?
Anyway, do have a read of Abe’s attempts to get money out of large companies who simply swiped his work but would never let anyone else do the same.
I wonder if this would work with those ebil e-book pirates. If you sent them a PayPal invoice for $3 for downloading your e-book, I wonder how many of them would be happy (or able) to pay? If someone does try that, please let me know.
Read about Abe’s invoicing extravaganza here:
The Colored Lens is an online and e-magazine publishing four to five short stories a quarter in speculative fiction genres, “ranging from fantasy, to science fiction, to slipstream or magical realism”.
The Colored Lens is looking for short stories that shift perspectives of how we see the world. We are specifically seeking stories that cause the reader reflect, not just on the story, but on how it relates to their own world.
We publish all varieties of speculative fiction, from alternate history, to high fantasy, to nuts and bolts hard science fiction, to dark fantasy, so long as it meets the guidelines above. Whatever the genre, the focus should be used to comment on our world and society rather than exclusively to keep the reader turning pages.
They’re after stories and non-fiction up to 10,000 words, with a preference for 500-5,000 words. Payment is a token $20 per story, with some variations based on length.
Read it here:
It’s not all writing advice, pushing anti-copyright agendas or posting silly comics here at the Literarium Blog: sometimes I find some story-inspiring stuff too. The awesome Tara Moss reposted this and I couldn’t help but link to it here. Also, the responsible artist is Dutch, so that makes it even more important. (NB: I am Dutch, hence the self-aggrandisement).
[Photographer Niki Feijen's] Disciple of Decay series features abandoned family homes that must once have been filled with conversation and laughter, but now house only the crumbling belongings of their former occupants.
One picture shows a bedroom that remains almost exactly as it was left, from the paintings hanging on the walls, to a television on a chest of drawers and a lace covering on the dressing table.
Another reveals a darkened living room with ornaments lining a sideboard, and a pair of shoes resting on the floor in front of an empty armchair.
The photos are great, and incredibly evocative. There are so many potential stories here, so click through to have a look at the photography:
Although this advice is specifically aimed at screenwriters (and from 2010), I read through and think it’s pretty useful general advice about constructing scenes.
[M]amet lays down an extremely sensible case for what makes good television, imploring [The Unit writers] to avoid expository writing for what he characterizes as authentic “drama.” Along the way, he refers repeatedly to the “blue-suited penguins” (probably the copious-note-givers at the network), while passing along some very useful advice (“any time two characters are talking about a third, the scene is a crock of shit”) and helpful writing exercises (“pretend the characters can’t speak and write a silent movie”). Screenwriters, take note: You may think you knew this already, but there’s nothing like Mamet for a good kick-in-the-ass reminder.
Read it here:
Usually I post stuff to help writers, but Literarium is for recording nifty writing services as well, so if you want to start such a business, this article seems helpful to me.
Liza Daley over at Medium talks about starting a new publishing venture. The bad news first:
I’m going to give you a winning formula for founding a successful publishing startup: go back in time and start it in 2008. If for some reason that’s not possible, it’s not going to be easy.
Failing your discovery of time travel, which might obviate the need to start anything ever again, she shares a list of useful tips which I think apply to plenty of other life activities:
Don’t be a jerk
Don’t work for jerks
Always be billing
And she offers some difficult tech problems that, if solved, will help you stand out in modern publishing:
Here’s what I didn’t do, and where I think the opportunities are: really hard problems. [...]
- High-fidelity automated conversion of paged media to reflowable media
- Portable, crossplatform identifiers
- Beautiful single-master book production
As usual, I’m just giving you section headings. If they sound like something that might help, click through and have a read. Also, just to reinforce my own opinions by acknowledging it when others agree with me:
DRM in general is pretty consistently a startup-killer. While you’re inventing the future please also take this embarrassment out back and shoot it.