Sunday, January 16, 2011

My writing week 4 (3)

Hi all,

New Article on Divine

I have another article up on Divine, this one is about studying online for my master of creative writing at the University of Canberra. If you are considering studying writing at the University of Canberra I have a more substantial appraisal of the masters course and its lecturers on my website.

The Divine editor made a few changes to my article, even though I rewrote it and edited it many times. Oh well, changes to my writing always make me anxious. Some of them I can see why, the reason for others is not so obvious. I will examine them again when my ego has stopped raging.

More Torchwood

I was rapt to read that they are making another ten episode mini-series of Torchwood. Television is running out of quality science fiction.

Cheap Books at Booko

I had a look at an Aussie website called Booko a couple of days ago. It is a site that automatically searches for the online prices, including delivery, of books. Just type in the title or author. I checked my last few purchases. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood cost me $24.99 at my local Collins Bookstore, I could have purchased it online at Abe books for $11.37. But Solar, by Ian McEwan, cost me $32.99 at the local bookstore, the cheapest online was $28.44 at Abe books again. But I still will buy from the local bookstore even if it is $10 cheaper online.

Booko did not have ebooks, so I could not gleefully type in titles and see that I could get them all free from somewhere.

Lengthy Ebook Article in The Age

Speaking of ebooks, which I tend to do a bit, there was a huge article on whether they would destroy publishing in last weeks Good Weekend in The Age. I could not find a link for it, but I recommend reading it. It mentioned a journo Malcolm Knox who reckons ebooks could be a boon for authors, all they have to do is spend all their time social networking – forget the writing – to convince people to buy their ebook (This is my sarcastic bent on his comments).

But it did say that Vicki Tyley, who had been unable to get published in the US, put her mystery ebook Thin Blood up on Amazon for the guru recommended price of $2.99 and sold in excess of 25,000 copies. It did not say, however, how many were purchased by US citizens. She has published three novels in Australia. Still her US agent says he is negotiating a print publishing deal.

The article compared e-readers and publisher Richard Walsh reviewed the Kindle. He read Stied Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on it, and said that it destroyed the formatting of newspaper articles within the novel. Because of Kindle’s homogenised text, that formatting was lost and confusion reigned. Interestingly, later in the article, Larson was mentioned as becoming the first author to sell over a million Kindle ebooks. So there must have been a lot of confused Kindle users.

Walsh also said he had difficulty flicking forward to the end of a chapter and backwards on the Kindle. I have found no such difficulty as I usually read it a linear fashion, but there is a goto menu that allows you to bring up a table of contents and head to the end of the chapter. From the tone of the review, I think Mr Walsh wanted to hate the Kindle.

The one thing the article forgots to mention was free ebooks. So there was no discussion on how the over three million ebooks, and growing, might impact on the publishing industry.

What I Got up to Last Week

I spent a bit of time researching my next article for Divine last week. It is on authors with disabilities. So may famous authors had disabilities, including two of the big three science fiction writers. As about 20% of the population will have a disability at some time of another, a particular writer having a disability should not be a surprise. I have lined up interviews with two Aussie writers for the article too, which I hope to do in the next two days.

I spent a bit of time watching the floods. I used to live in Albion in Brisbane, one of the suburbs affected. My Aunty Anne also lives next door to the Safeway in Toowoomba, but luckily it was above the flood waters.

Down here in Wangaratta, the humid wet weather has been sending me troppo. The only thing it is good for is growing tomatoes. I picked 60 kilograms of them last week. We are running out of people to give them too.

I also did a bit of editing of the novella. After reading a blog post by John Scalzi, in which he aims to write 2,000 words by noon each day, I am determined to write more. I think 1,000 a day would be a more realistic goal, especially with all those tomatoes to pick.



Vicki said...

Hi Graham

I did indeed publish Thin Blood on Smashwords, but that’s not where the volume of my ebook sales come from. The Amazon Kindle store is my main earner. Of the 35,000 ebooks I’ve now sold, all but about 6.5% were purchased by US citizens. (The 70% royalty rate only applies to US sales, dropping to 35% for other countries.)


Graham Clements said...

I just checked the Age article again, and it did indeed say that the majority of your sales were from Amazon. So I changed the post.

Obviously you have sold another 10,000 copies since the Age obtained its original number of 25,000.

That's about 33,000 copies sold in the US, which must add a bit of weight to getting published there.

But will the publishers over there put less weight on the sales because they were for $2.95 and not the price of bestselling authors ebooks of around $10?

I wish you well and hope you get a contract over there.

I do wonder whether your sales are the exception. It would be nice to hear of other authors doing as well with their $2.99 ebooks.

Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Graham,
Thanks for asking me to be part of your Divine interview. Am I allowed to give it away here?
About your daily target for your novella, I think 1K is a realistic expectation.
Good luck with your writing :))

Graham Clements said...

Yes Karen, you're allowed to plug my upcoming article on writers with a disability for

Vicki said...

Hi Graham

That 25,000 copies quoted by The Age was at the end of June (as stated in the article).

My sales are by no means the exception. Far from it. I see from your profile that you follow Joe Konrath’s blog. He is constantly refuting the “exception” theory. Here’s one post listing a number of writers doing exceptionally well at the $2.99 (or lower) price point.

I don’t think the US publishers put less weight on the sales because they were for $2.99. I have a US writer friend who has just been offered a publishing contract based on sales of her $0.99 ebook. And me? I hope to have news very soon.

Have a great weekend.


Graham Clements said...

Hi Vicki,

I had a look at the post by Joe Konrath. He lists 28 (if I counted right) authors who were selling well, many of them selling over a 1000 ebooks in November last year (the post was written in December).

I had a look at those authors ebooks on Amazon, many sell their ebooks for less than $2.95. Many sell in a range between 0.99 to $4.95 depending on age of the title. $2.95 could be the dominate price, but not by much.

The "professional" authors he lists generally sell their ebooks for anything up to $10.00, with the cheapest ones, $2.95 and under, being their older titles. This is one thing that will happen soon, the ebook market will be flooded by very cheap backlist copies from most authors.

Considering their are 12,000 authors trying to sell ebooks on Smashwords alone, and probably hundreds of thousands trying to
sell them on Amazon and other platforms, I would say 28 authors selling 1000 or so a month is an exception.

Obviously Konrath's list is nowhere near exhaustive. There are probably hundreds of authors selling ebooks at a range of prices who are doing well out of it. But still hundreds, as compared to hundreds of thousands, is still the exception.

As I am more interested in the Australian publishing industry surviving the cheap/free ebook avalanche, I will keep a look out for the sales of Australian ebooks. Specifically those publishing by newish authors who are trying to establish themselves by publishing an ebook.